Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Where everybody knows your name...

Hey, I know it's been awhile since I rapped at ya. I've just been busy getting into all kinds of non-shenanigans. Work has been full tilt this week and since I just got back, there was a lot of catching up to do. This sunday Beijing Ultimate Summer League (BUSL) officially started. I'm captaining one of the four teams along with Happy Rat. You may remember him from the China Open post. He's the Kazak dude being tossed in the air after victory in the finals. Our shirt color is blue and our team name is "Go Blue Yourself", which is definitely a nod to Arrested Development. It's funny even if you haven't seen the show. Tobias painted himself blue to try out for the Blue Man Group and tells his family "I just blue myself" to get the role. Comedy gold.

It's been raining for a few days now and it only just let up today, Wednesday. Tuesday night was one of the most enjoyable games of Ultimate in a while. Steady downpour the whole evening and 25 people out to mark the occasion. We were sopping wet and it was spectacular. For obvious reasons, I have no pictures of the event.

Today I took a few pictures of the hotel employee housing. These three buildings are the barracks behind the hotel, sheltered from street view by a 10 foot wall. The whole compound probably has 70 rooms, but I suggest very few have the luxury of a private room. They likely put 2 or 3 in each small room. These pictures are taken from a window on the 7th floor.

This is all very interesting to me. From what I can see, which is limited to the 7th floor staff, the lobby, the "guards" standing at attention outside, the restaurant (one of 2), and the management, there are 50 people working here. In all seriousness, there are probably closer to 200. There is so much staff here that people are mostly just standing around. Which means I get extra attention when I come around. If this hotel were in the states, it would be run by no more than 40 total employees, and only 15 at a time (including housekeeping). Again, China definitely keeps it's people employed. I wouldn't be surprised if every person in those barracks knows who I am. I haven't seen another foreigner in this place ever, and I've been here for almost 2 months.

Tonight I went to my favorite little local place and had another killer and cheap dinner. The place was packed this time and I got one of the last tables in the house. I flaunted my honed restaurant Chinese and got my meal, pictured below. A big plate of Chicken and Zucchini in a brown sauce, a bowl of rice, two cornbread patties, and a 22oz bottle of beer. This one cost 19 kuai, which is about $2.75. It would have been plenty for 2 people, as I finished about half of it and was stuffed.

Then the waiter came up and babbled something to me. I caught a few words but had to ask him to repeat slowly. I have a hard time hearing english in a loud room, so chinese requires considerable effort. "Can these three men back here share this table with you?" Sure. Why not. I was just chilling with a book and feeling all proud that I hadn't drawn too much attention to myself yet. Normally I can bring this place to a hush just by walking in. Anyway, these guys were cool, and they let me be for a while. They bought me another beer to thank me. They probably assumed I didn't speak Chinese so they didn't try. Until I spoke Chinese. The next 20 minutes were spent asking and answering the following questions:

  • Where are you from? (That was a warm up)
  • How long have you been here? (Also pretty standard)
  • Are you full already?
  • Do you eat this kind of food in America?
  • How much would this meal cost in America?

Yeah, good times. That last one was particularly tricky. They took turns repeating the question. They always spoke the part I already understood slowly, and then blazed through the tricky part. And then I would stare. And they would repeat. And I would repeat. And they'd say yes! good! yes! Your Chinese is so good!

And I'd have no idea what i just said.

And that's how you learn Chinese!


No comments: