Friday, November 21, 2008

random thoughts evading an all encapsulating title...

Firstly, apologies for my hiatus. Again. One reason is that I am just so busy these days that I just never seem to have the chance to write. Then, one week becomes two, and then three... and well I'm sure you've all grasped the concept of time and how it flies- even when you are not having fun!
Secondly, I started this blog as an outlet and a point of interest for all the weird and wacky things I see here in China. But after having lived in Shanghai now for over three years (has it really been that long?) I tend to feel more and more that I just don't see the things that are totally wacky to the rest of the world. This, combined with a lack of time to write, has resulted in a rather stagnant blog of late.
The weird and wacky things are still happening though, and I have recently decided that I need to make more time to document them before they one day seem lie just a dim past dream. I don't want to look back one day and think, wait a minute- did the repair man really stand on the ledge of a 13th floor window with no safety belt? Did I really know people called Peter Pan, Shiny and Sun Ray? Could I really have been charged in a restaurant for Ass Pie? At least I'll have this blog to look back on one day and realise that all those weird and wacky things did happen.
In truth I have become accustomed to many things, but some stuff still surprises me. For example I was in the back of a taxi the last week when I noticed a new shop had opened in my neighbourhood. Judging by the shelves of random roots and pickled/dried animal parts I assumed it to be a traditional Chinese medicine dispensary.
That, however did not quite explain the 7 foot tall stuffed deer that was standing outside the door. The fully grown antlers led me to believe it was male, and just when I start thinking "Oh how sad, someone shot Bambi's daddy", I look to the other side of the door to see a fully stuffed little fawn. I guess it's more merciful this way- Bambi can't miss his dad if he is stuffed and on display with him for all eternity on a busy footpath on Fahuazhen Rd, Shanghai!
Unfortunately when I went back to take a photo of the surprising Shanghai wildlife, the large deer had disappeared, replaced only by another small fawn. Either he was too cumbersome to move in and out of the shop each day, or someone sold him as a cure for arthritis.
Meanwhile, speaking of traditional Chinese cures, I am suffering from Labyrinthitis again. It is not as bad as the last time I had it, but is still very disconcerting and not to mention nauseating. My Chinese co-teacher told me yesterday that when her aunt was suffering from the same condition (a condition I might add that has no effective medicinal treatments other than time), her local physician advised her to eat a fresh human placenta to cure it. When she decided against the idea, her family procured one for her anyway (I didn't ask how but I have heard that they are big on the abortion clinic black market- and I wish I was kidding about that). They boiled the placenta into a soup and fed it to her without her knowledge. My co-teacher suggested that I do the same, as it cured her aunt. Or perhaps time did, as this condition tends to only last a few days to a couple of weeks anyway.
In anycase, I won't be going for dinner at her house any time soon.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Alive and... well...

Ok I am alive. Sorry for my complete lack of activity here over the last month- I started school again (teaching) in August and got caught up in the hectic exhaustion of teaching twenty 3 year olds. As you do.

I also started French classes again. I'm not sure who thought it would be a good idea to work full-time, and then do 6 hours of language classes two nights a week. By the time I get to class after work I can barely remember my own name, let alone how to conjugate for the passé composé! I figure, so long as I don't go completely mad in the meantime, it's all good.

That's the alive portion covered. As for the 'well': I went to the doctor this morning with yet another cold and suspected chest infection and the first thing he said when I walked in the door was: "You must be a teacher". Yep.

So there you have it: Alive and relatively well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Flooded in Shanghai

This was the situation in Shanghai this morning as I tried to hail a taxi:
(the ambient noise is pretty loud so you might want to turn down your speaker volume)

The scooter in the foreground is actually on the footpath.

After a torrential downpour in the early ours of the morning, most of Shanghai was under a foot or two of water. I waited for a taxi, and then tried to get a bus, for an hour and a half before I gave up.

To make things worse, today was the first day of school for my kindergarten class, and neither myself or my co-teacher has been able to show up. On the first day of school last year I tripped over and tore a tendon in my foot, and this year I got flooded in.

Good times!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lost in Translation

This is what happens when you rely on automatic internet translation services:

Apparently it's a restaurant in Beijing who wanted to write their Chinese business name in English.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This is not an advertisment

Before I start, I just want to say that this is not an advertisement... just tip sharing between myself and any curly-haired readers that happen to be out there. If you are not interested in curl-care, I suggest you do yourself a favour and skip this post!

I have struggled to tame my frizzy curls into something like the Julia-Roberts-Nicole-Kidman-natural-beauty that abounds in Hollywood. Of course, it never occurred to the younger me that they had a stylist to do that for them before every shoot. I couldn't understand how their hair looked glossy and perfect, whereas mine was fly-away frizzy. And of course I recognise that my hair is not the curliest out there, but it's still pretty damn curly. Not 'fro' curly but definitely Muppet curly. While in the 80s it was ok to verge on the frizz, sometime during the 90s it became only acceptible to have curly hair, if each curl was in a nicely tamed and defined set- what I like to call The Hollywood Curl. Anything less than this and, well, it was just considered lazy that you didn't bother to straighten it.

When I was a kid, though still curly, my hair lacked the strength it has now and so it was much easier to manage. Then puberty hit. Oh boy. My nickname for many years was witch, because that's just what I looked like- long dark outta control frizzy hair. How I would have done ANYTHING for Hollywood curls.

I learned from a young age that hair products were my friend, yet none of them (even the really expensive ones that always seem to have a man's name as their brand) ever really seemed to work. On top of that they leave your hair feeling heavy, greasy, hard or sticky... sometimes all four.


A stylist friend introduced me to 'Potion 9' by Sebastian (see another man's name!). For once this product actually worked. Usually my hair freaks out when I put a new product on it- taking a few days to be beaten into submission- but this was instant. I smoothed a little through, took a few sections of hair on the top of my head either side of my part and curled them around my finger while the hair was wet, and then walked out of the house.

Miraculously, I had Hollywood hair.

It feels soft and natural, and leaves your hair glossy with each curl still defined. It's a bit expensive (around $15-20 for a big tube, but you really only need to use a little).

I apologise to any reader with beautiful, silky, straight locks, who by now is ready to poke their own eyes out from boredom. However, as my own mum doesn't have such curly hair, everything I know about curl maintenance I learned via experimentation or through friends. Therefore I feel honor-bound to share the product.

An after photo >>>
I tried to find a good frizzy before shot, but I'm so horrified of my hair like that I never kept any real shockers on my pc. The red sections help to show just how the curls stay tamed and defined.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Holiday snaps

Some selective colour holiday snaps from our recent trip to Narita (Japan), New York, Montreal and Quebec City.

Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii

Like many people, I look forward to embarrassing the hell out of my future children. As far as I am concerned it remains a fundamental right of parents world-wide.

However, naming my child 'Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii', as one New Zealand couple did, plainly crosses the line.

Judge Murfitt, who made written findings on the issue public, cited other names such as Number 16 Bus Shelter, Violence and Benson and Hedges (twins).

"Recently, for the first time in my experience as a Family Court judge, the name of a child described in text language has emerged," he said.

On that occasion the mother had named her daughter O.crnia but was prepared to concede to a condition of a parenting order so it could be adjusted to Oceania.

Murfitt said he was concerned such names presented a social hurdle for children.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Manny Palooza 2008 - Quebec City

Quebec City

A blurry late night photo of the lights of Quebec City, taken across the St Lawrence River from Levis:

A little piece of Europe, plonked right into North America:

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel dating from 1892- we'll stay there when we win the lottery:

Exploring the archaeological dig site of the Intendant's Palace:

So much to see...

"Battle stations! Fire in the hole!"

See more of Manny on Manny's Mondays

Manny Palooza 2008 - Road trip to Quebec City

Road Trip, Montreal to Quebec City

Proudly navigating again:

Backseat driving:

At a random village in Quebec:

Meeting the locals... moments before Phil discovered the hard way that this is actually a highly electrified fence:

Stopped at St Hubert's- a great Quebec institution...

St Hubert's is famous for another great Quebec institution- Poutine!
(Poutine, for those poor souls unfamiliar with this miracle of culinary delight, consists of chips (fries) with curd cheese, covered in gravy.... mmmmm....)

Safety first:

Escaping the blinding rain at Tim Hortons, another Canadian landmark:

Tim Hortons is apparently famous for its Tim Bits (doughnut holes)

"Mmmmm... sugar...."

"Lost, perhaps? I told you to turn right, but nooo... you had to go left... humpf!"

Manny Palooza 2008 - Montreal

Montreal, Canada

Manny navigates from NY to Montreal:

On Saint Denis St:

At the Sunday Tam Tams:

Yet another church.... Saint Catherine St, I believe:

Just For Laughs Comedy festival- The Nasty Show:

Just for Laughs, Late Night Down Under show:

See more of Manny on Manny's Mondays

Manny Palooza 2008 - New York

New York, New York...

Central Park (above and below)

Outside the Metropolitan Museum:

In the Guggenheim Museum:

Riding the subway:


Greenwich Village:

Having a coffee in Greenwich Village before the drive to Montreal:

See more of Manny at Manny's Mondays

Show me the Manny

Manny is back- this time showing off his recent adventures in Japan, New York, Montreal and Quebec City.

Starting with.... Narita, Japan:

Waiting to ride the subway from Tokyo International Airport to Narita city.

On the streets in the city (town) of Narita

At the temple complex in Narita (above and below)