Sunday, August 4, 2013

人山人海 "People Mountain, People Sea"

It has been many weeks since I last posted. I decided to leave my position in Changchun as Director of Studies for Perfect English's Adult Branch (aka "The Culture Club"), because I had been there for two and a half years and was ready for a new adventure.

I have left behind some fabulous students, who sent me off with great gifts of pu'er tea and a new handkerchief (just in time for I have had a summer cold for a week). The top English student in sophomore year at the top high school in Northeast China even gave me a traditional bamboo slat version of Sun Tsu's Art of War. I did not get a chance to say good-bye to my 13 year-old VIP student to whom I taught most of The Way Things Work and whom I helped prepare to pass the Grade 9 Trinity exam with distinction because he was in Canada and then Hainan for a rocket competition!

Deborah, my partner in crime, and I decided we wanted to see another part of the country before we possibly return to America...possibly together.

I will work for New Oriental, "the largest provider of private educational services in China. New Oriental teaches skills that give students a crucial competitive advantage in the workplace and help to improve their quality of life. Their wide range of educational programs, services and products include English and other foreign language training, overseas and domestic test preparation courses, all-subjects after school tutoring, primary and secondary school education, educational content and software as well as online education." End of corporate spiel.

I understand that I will get some opportunity as one of only a very few foreign experts employed by the company, to teach history, SSAT prep, and TOEFL classes for prep school-bound Chinese middle schoolers.

Deborah and I have moved into a fairly small apartment in the Dongzhimen neighborhood of Dongcheng District of Beijing (北京). The city's name translates into North Capital; Nanjing (formerly Nanking) is South Capital. I have visited the city probably eight times previously, most of which have been documented on this blog. I love it here and will continue to soak it up. I will be making a lot more money, but Deborah won't let me spend any of it...but we will get to that in a moment!

Lampan, Adils, and Torbjorn all assembled!
Tomorrow will be 91 F and today was hot, too. The air now at 1 AM is unhealthy with 157 on the 2.5 micron particulate matter scale. I am sitting in my new Torbjorn at my new Adils lit by my new Lampan, which are three of the five things that I was permitted to buy at IKEA. For the record, I am not a shopper, but I had never been to IKEA and it was an orgy of consumerism which I was eager to join.

While we waited for more than forty minutes for a taxi in the sort of Disneyland snaking queue that you also find at train stations and airports in China, the rest of the experience was just marvelous. We walked there from some ginormous five-story place where the cheapest desks started at 1000 RMB and then, at this Swedish mega-store, we spent less than US $100 on five fairly significant things. I have participated in the death of craftsmanship and enjoyed it. I have drunk of the cup of consumerism and reeled home to assemble an office with a screwdriver and bike wrench!

There is a saying in Chinese, "People mountain, people sea."  It was Saturday and there were thousands of people plowing through the circus, but some (more than the three pictured here) were tired!

Shoes off. Yuck!
Not just testing the pillow.
Mom and boy out cold!







Me posing with something I was not allowed to buy, but would have been a fun, retro way to display photographs. 
The first floor is a help yourself frenzy. 
This was the queue for the taxi or pedicab, if you dared.
It is now 2 PM. The crickets and cicadas are still chirping. The collective din of people's AC whirring and the swish of passing cars are all I can hear. I refuse to use the AC, just as I refuse to use the dryer function in our single-unit washer-dryer. It is enough that I enjoyed IKEA, is it not? I will follow the lead of the sleepers at IKEA and sign off.