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This post is about a handful of recent experiences I’ve had:

-Two nights ago, my boss was in town and took me and the other foreign teachers out to dinner at a Chinese porridge house that specialized in delicacies of the northern regions of the country. The waitresses wore filly aprons and plaid kerchiefs on their heads. We ordered a chicken porridge so that everyone would be comfortable, but I really wanted to try to the snake meat porridge. My boss told me that it tastes like chicken, but doesn’t everyone say that? I have to know for sure!

The other things we ordered:

Banana flavored “Indian bread” which was similar to naan, but not really the same thing. The banana was really delicious.

Frog and vegetable stir fry! The frogs were small and whole, a little chewy, a little bony, and very much like…I hate to say it…chicken.

Bao (stuffed and steamed dough balls or rolls) filled with lotus seed paste. These bao were made in a pig-shaped mold and complete with little black eyes and pink bows.

The restaurant also served fried duck tongue. I WILL come back to try it, along with the snake porridge.

-We’ve had some very stormy weather lately. It’s rains cats and dogs on a daily basis and lightning and thunder often accompany it. One morning last week, The sky actually got darker instead of lighter as the morning progressed. By 8AM, the sky was as black as night. The buildings lit up, the lamps in the school went on. It was insane. Shortly after, lightning struck down in the middle of the courtyard of the school!! TWICE!!! That’s roughly two hundred feet from my desk!!! The second strike was purple. I was very impressed.

-On Thursday, we had a fire drill in the kindergarten. The teachers were instructed to usher the kids downstairs into the courtyard to watch a fire demonstration conducted by one of the school bus drivers. The driver threw a bunch of leaves and sticks into barrels, poured gasoline all over them, and then ignited them. Turns out he had no idea what he was doing and lit his hair on fire. TWICE. His downfall was that he tried to light the torch on fire over the barrel full of highly flammable substances, but didn’t anticipate the enormity of the flame that would follow. The whole school was laughing at him. I think the kids thought it was a game. Needless to say, the driver wasn’t at all amused by his huge loss of face…and hair. I was irritated by a teacher who was directing her students to pose one at a time in the foreground of the flaming barrels with one hand making a peace sign and the other holding a washcloth to the face. Besides watching the driver make a fool out of himself during a fire-safety demonstration, I enjoyed the opportunity to use a fire extinguisher to put the fires out. I saluted the little Katie in me who was always tempted to take the fire extinguisher out of the case in the cafeteria of my elementary school. I was too afraid of getting in trouble to grab it, but man did I want to.

-Yesterday, one of the Chinese English teachers got drunk at work. It was an accident, of course. One of the parents of her students gave her a bottle of some spirit that is supposed to be good for women’s health. The teacher had been feeling ill and looking a little pale, and the gift was a nice gesture. The teacher rarely drinks, but she felt obligated to enjoy some of it in front of the parent, so she took a shot. After that she was cowering in the corner and complaining of dizziness. She started glowing bright red and the whole shebang.

-I’m finally getting used to seeing kids peeing (and pooping) in public. Right in front of the school is a popular spot. On several occasions, I’ve seen a mom pick up her child from school and drop his pants as soon as they get through the gate so that he can relieve himself. I saw a lady holding her toddler over a trashcan while he pooped in the Guangzhou metro station last month.

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