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Mon Feb 13, 2012, 10:53 AM

Life in China for an ex-pat (first in a series)

I have lived here for four years now. My father and I have sent these to our friends.

BTW, those who were wondering. Last time I posted about China, my father had been diagnosed with Stage 3 renal failure due to his bladder being killed off by an enlarged prostate and urea backing up into his bloodstream. I wish to update on his condition after six months of healing.

He is fine. He has a permanent medical device implanted into his body that allows the body to get rid of the urea into a bad that he needs to drain every time it fills. When it was first put in, he drained 19 liters of urea in four days. He just had his tests and everything is now normal. We dodged a MAJOR bullet.

Now, the series on life in China.

The first episode of my journal should be read with the theme from “Dragnet” playing......

This is the city – Nanjing China – home of the dumbest police on the planet and the second-dumbest criminals on the planet. It was a dark night when some stupid guy decided to make a withdrawal at the ATM machine. After withdrawing his cash, One Dumb Crook shoots him and steals his money – all recorded by several video cameras. Within a day his photo is plastered all over Nanjing and thanks to Yahoo, all over the world, and the manhunt is on. All of Nanjing's 13,000 police officers are dedicated to apprehending the felon and bringing him to justice. All they have is a hundred photos of him – front view, side view, top view, bottom view. They even know what brand sneakers he wears. Let's go get him.

The orders to the police – find him. Do whatever it takes, but find him. Search the intercity trains, search the Metro, search the taxis. Search everywhere, but find him. Let no one get past you until you are absolutely sure he is not the suspect. Description – Chinese male, approximately 75 kilos, approximately 170 cm tall, approximately 30 years old.

Armed with photos and the wanted posters, our intrepid Keystone Kops sally forth. Coming home from Yangzhou last week was my mother. The police give her the once-over, the twice-over. Is THAT the suspect? Maybe in the past week the suspect went to a doctor and added 20 kilos of weight, 30 years of age, changed race to Caucasian and had a sex change operation!

Coming home from the train station tonight was me. Maybe he's the suspect – maybe in the past 2 weeks our perp grew two feet, added 50 kilos and had a race-change operation. After all, we all know perps take taxis, so let's spend a lot of time making sure this 6 foot 2 inch 275 pound American isn't really a 5 foot 6 inch 150 pound Chinese in disguise. Meanwhile, many cars with CHINESE occupants zoom by without going through the checkpoint.

Going out to buy dinner, my father got onto the Metro and there was Dudley Do-Right looking for his man. He looks at me, then at the WANTED poster, then me again, then the WANTED poster again, then me a third time, then the WANTED poster a third time. Finally, not knowing whether he speaks English or not, I blurt out “What do you think, Sherlock? I'm twice his age, twice his weight and American. Think I'm him?” I had to translate. The cop shook his head and walked away, hopefully realized how dumb he is.

So where is our intrepid thief/murderer? No one knows,but there are reports he has been seen in Hubei Province (about 400 miles away). Does that stop or even deter the Chinese police? Of course not, they will keep looking for him in Jiangsu Province until they find him here. Now they are looking for him in Shanghai, even though Shanghai is the OPPOSITE direction of Hubei.

With Spring Festival rapidly approaching, China is a MESS. Half of the people in China are traveling to visit the other half. Intercity transportation is crowded beyond capacity. The lines for train tickets have been endless for weeks. In two weeks the process reverses itself and everyone returns.

Spring Festival requires planning, because with all the people visiting or being visited, guess what they are NOT doing – working!!! China will literally shut down for two weeks. That means “I hope you stocked up on food, or know a hundred different recipes for whatever you have in your home or can catch or trap on your own” Whatever stores are open seem to stock only two things - milk and fruit – both in boxes piled high on the sidewalk. As you want down the street you see,piled six feet high and fifty feet long – boxes – the Great Wall of Milk or the Great Wall of Fruit – depending on what is in the boxes.

Another Spring Festival custom is the fireworks. Every year there is a war zone in China – with every idiot either selling or buying fireworks. Of course, when you buy the fireworks you intend to set them off. Where? This is China – wherever the hell you feel like it. Like, maybe, inside a subway station (that would explain the signs in the subway stations telling people not to set off fireworks there). Of course, it is a lost cause telling people not to do something here. Rules are made to control the village idiot – the smart people don't need rules because they can figure out for themselves what is dangerous and what is safe. It's the village (or City or Province) Idiot that the rules are made for. The problem is.... these rules seem to have started a contest to see how stupid people can become.

What part of “If you are selling fireworks, don't smoke near the fireworks you're selling” is hard to understand? The corollary to this question is “What is the blast radius for the explosion this idiot who is smoking while selling fireworks sets off?”

Question – where is the best place to stop what you are doing and send a text message? Answer (in China) at the entrance to an escalator in a crowded subway station. That way you get trampled to death by the largest herd of people possible in as short a time as possible. Think of hamburger on the sidewalk with a cell phone stuck in it.

Question – what do you do when you are in an elevator and the door opens? Answer (in China) – think about it. Ponder the possibilities. Consider the ramifications. Philosophize over the potential list of actions you can take. Did I say “start walking and exit the elevator”? No, because that would never occur to someone here in China (except if they have a Mei Guo Ren (美国人, Chinese for American) behind them in a huge hurry – then they get a helping shove out the door followed by a long list of expletives explaining why our intrepid idiot's family never evolved intellectually beyond a fern).

Question – what is the easiest way to get a large suitcase up a stairway? (this is a multiple choice question). Your possible answers are (a) pull it up the stairs (b) push it up the stairs or ( c ) use the ramp next to the stairs. If you answered ( c ) you obviously do not live in China.

Question – where is the best place to set off your fireworks? In China, the closer to your car's gas thank the better. That way you get two explosions for the price of one.

For those of you who remember how the American housing bubble started, we live in an apartment condo project where no more than 30% of the condos have been sold. So what is the solution? Build another complex across the street, a third next door and a couple of dozen within 2 kilometers. After all, 10,000 unsold condos is 10,000 times better than 1 unsold condo.


I will post others.

再见 (goodbye) for now.

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Reply Life in China for an ex-pat (first in a series) (Original post)
Suji to Seoul Feb 2012 OP
OffWithTheirHeads Feb 2012 #1
geardaddy Feb 2012 #2
Bucky Feb 2012 #3
Suich Feb 2012 #4

Response to Suji to Seoul (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2012, 12:15 PM

1. I love it! Please do more.

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Response to Suji to Seoul (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2012, 01:36 PM

2. Excellent!

I lived in Beijing from 1984-85. I haven't been back the PRC since. I would love to see the changes.

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Response to Suji to Seoul (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2012, 01:42 PM

3. Interesting series idea.

As a history teacher, I'd like to hear about any memorials or remnants there are from the 1937 massacre.

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Response to Suji to Seoul (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2012, 05:53 PM

4. Funny!

I look forward to reading more!

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