Home > Uncategorized > Halloween in Shenzhen with Li Hui

Halloween in Shenzhen with Li Hui

I just got back from my first run on the track for a couple of weeks. Over the last couple weeks of my cold I went out about four times, but ran in the village where I knew I wouldn’t push myself. Out there I saw a snake, one dead and one alive, on the white concrete road. The critters I’ve been seeing are increasing in intensity. Jessica and I followed a praying mantis across the hallway that bounced as it walked. “It looks sick!” One of the Chinese professors said, coming up behind us. He ran into the bathroom and back, his palms cupped with water, which he threw over the poor green bug. He walked away, looking satisfied, and Jessica and I choked on our laughter as we ran back into our office. One of my students, in the meantime, gave me a canister full of yellow pills (that look and taste like candy), and instructed me to take 20 after every meal. “Twenty??” I said. “Ershi?” I said it in Mandarin just to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake. “Yes,” she said. “They’re small.” Maybe it’s because I took them at the tail end of the cold anyway, but my voice is back and I’m feeling much better. It also may have something to do with the extreme pampering that happened this weekend at the spa in Shenzhen, a two hour bus ride away, and China’s first special economic zone. The women who worked in the locker room were completely baffled, though, as we changed into gypsies, Lara Croft, foreign-devils, and as I smeared gold paint all over myself. I went as a good-fortune cat, one of the golden cats that are in many shops all over Asia, whose arms wish you good luck as they bob up and down. Jocelyn wrote characters on the inside of my forearm, and every Chinese person who stared at the crazy waiguoren got a good laugh as we took the metro to Coco Park to meet with other English teachers for pizza and beer. After scrambling for melty pizza and dancing to all the American top 40 hits, we went back to the center and enjoyed cockroach-free showers. I finally got that massage and afterward was allowed to sleep in the bed where I’d received it—this along with a pedicure and all the free dragonfruit I could eat was about 248 kuai (about 36 USD). Now I see why people stick around China for so long…at least after they start getting paid over the American equivalent to minimum wage (not quite there yet). I’ve got some bruises, and it was a little bit painful, but I already feel more relaxed. One thing’s for sure, when I have a cold my club suffers. Trying to get thirty-five already shy kids to belt out, “I’m bringing sexy back!” is no easy task. Trying to get them to do it when I sound like Bea Arthur underwater is almost impossible. This week I’m going to start them on a new song (or a section of a new song, anyway) and then see if they melt into their desktops. I’m thinking the “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” part of “All these things that I’ve Done” by the Killers. It’s about as close as I’m willing to get to the hyper-emotional ballads that are so popular here. Today I got my Chinese name: Li Hui. In China, the surname is first—Li, a famous emperor from the Tang dynasty (third tone) and Hui, my first name means “kind-hearted” (second tone–sounds like “Way”). I’m very flattered, but I hope that isn’t the Chinese equivalent to “has a good personality.”

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