张健和我hosted a wedding luncheon for his coworkers and acquaintances. It’s more apt to say that he hosted it, and I tagged along as the other half of our wedding party. This luncheon was for coworkers and acquaintances that will not be able to make it to our February fifth ceremony in ZJ’s hometown. I’m not going to elaborate too much here as I plan to recollect the event in a later post, complete with photos.
Thanksgivukkah at Village Cafe. We celebrated what has become a regular tradition of Thanksgiving at Village Cafe. This year it was organized by several parties, and not myself. The group included BYU teachers, Americans, Sara and Sandro, a Korean, Japanese, and Thai teacher amongst a number of colleagues and friends of colleagues. ZJ was the only Chinese in attendance. I had a chance to converse, although limited, with some Fulbright grad school scholars. We didn’t actually do anything Hanukkah-related this year, and I didn’t even make latkes. Nevertheless, it was still Hanukkah during Thanksgiving so it’s still appropriate to refer to the day as Thanksgivukkah.
Outings including Delhi Darbar lunch, 3-D Art exhibit, Le Ban Bakery feast, Green Molly dinner, shopping, tennis and badminton. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a number of outings. We went to Delhi Darbar, the Indian place at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, about two weeks ago. On our walk there, coincidentally, we ran into Cherie and her kids. Cherie’s husband, David, is the new Fulbright scholar at XISU. Cherie is also a professor back in the States, but currently on sabbatical. She, along with her kids, Mina and Jules, joined us for lunch. Mina and Jules attend a recently opened international school here, and they always have lots to talk about. We ended up spending most of the afternoon lounging around, eating, and then walking around the Pagoda. We (ZJ and I) also spent some of that weekend entertaining Mina and Jules by playing a board game, reminiscent of Settlers of Catan meets Risk.
In addition, if you’ve seen My Facebook profile, you probably noticed the 3-D images. A mall downtown had set up this gallery of sorts, and if you reposted about it on your WeChat friend circles, then you’d be able to acquire free admission. Some of ZJ’s coworkers went and after seeing the images, thought it might be entertaining, at the very least, to go, especially if free. There were all kinds of scenery, from the Beatles to Kung Fu panda, Shrek, aquariums, dinosaurs, fun house mirrors, nature scenery all painted with a 3-D paint that somehow enhances the experience. Although we went on a Wednesday, in an attempt to avoid the crowds, there was certainly no way of avoiding people from capturing our pictures, and since ZJ brought his Nikon, we had to count on the kindness of strangers to take pictures for us, with less than fruitful results. All in all, it was still fun to go on a 3-D art journey.
We also discovered some new eating haunts: LeBan Bakery and a Vietnamese restaurant. ZJ also gets half off select restaurants on Wednesdays so we had a chance to dine at one of the rotating sushi bar chains at a substantially lower price. We managed to get half off the pastries and loaves we purchased at LeBan, a French bakery and cafe in Gaoxin. The Vietnamese place ended up being a bust, as it was a little overpriced and they seemed to be out of stock of some of their particularly enticing items.
XISU’s semester begins to draw to a close. I have my final week of classes next week and intend to submit my grades before the new year. My students are submitting final assessments in the form of papers, a mutually beneficial option.
The department has disclosed my spring semester’s courses. They have assigned me English News Writing to grad students, Intercultural Communication to sophomores, and a Language correction course to freshman. Although I’m not entirely sure what the intention or purpose is of the final course, it at least gives me the mandatory minimum of twelve teaching hours, leaving me able to say no to any extra work they attempt to assign me.
Thievery dominated my headlines last week. On December 9, an unknown assailant stole Jason’s locked bike from inside the first floor of the stairwell of the apartments. On the previous evening, after coming back from dinner with John, Cherie, Mina and Jules, a suspicious-looking character lurked around outside the main gate of our stairwell, and when addressed by Cherie or I, in both English and Chinese, did not attempt to reply. We still don’t know when exactly the perpetrator took the bike, but it had to be some time between four and eleven in the morning. No one claims to have seen anything or let anyone in. Although thievery so several kinds in all too common in China, especially in Xi’an (students have always warned me to remain vigilant in crowded areas), it was locked and within the confines of the main gate of our stairwell! Only residents including myself, John, Leanna, Sara and Sandro, and Peter (the other foreign teacher in my department) as well as the foreign residence attendant and Rao Ying, the school liaison for any apartment-related concerns, should have key access to this stairwell. After reporting to Lin Zhu the events that unfolded, we went to the police station. I can’t even begin to express how ludicrously useless going there turned out to be. We filed a report, in my name, because the Chinese police could care less about what happens to their own people, and were told to “await” their call. I ended up posting notices outside each stairwells’ door, as there are six stairwells in the two foreign residence buildings.
Pollution has been increasingly bullish the last three days. The AQI has been through the roof, registering in the mid 400s and encroaching on 500. I don’t know the rhyme or reason for the particularly troubling air quality, but ZJ mentioned that last week Beijing and Shanghai fell victim to the same disturbingly high index, and a western wind has brought their troubles to our doorstep. It’s likely then that these high-indexed days will eventually move on in search of a more far flung region to pester. Not even more than two weeks ago, we had blue skies and sunshine. 我才就是命！