September 21, 2006 - Guyuan, China
Life, 45 Minutes at a Time
The school is only 100 feet from my apartment as the crow flies. Over a short wall studded with homebrew barbed wire - shards of broken glass set into concrete - is the schoolyard. Between classes the students play badminton and flirt, running back and forth on the walkways between their dorms.
Sitting here in my office I hear the bell going off every period, from 6:30AM until 11:00PM. Every 45 minutes a new period. Every 45 minutes a bell.
The start of this week a new ritual began. Between each class, in the ten or fifteen minute break, a song plays over the loudspeakers.
The crackly recorded voice of a sweet, young Chinese girl floats over the wall.
Its sounds as if the microphone has been set next to a phonograph. If you listen hard enough I swear you can hear the needle scratch as it sets down and works into its long groove.
The young girl sighs, “Yi - Er - San - Si - Wu - Leo.”
Over and over again. Counting from one to six.
It has started playing in my dreams.
At least I can now count to six in Mandarin, now if I could just get them to start playing Mandarin lessons I’d be all set.
your blog is frickin hilarious. Well done!
Ah, I know the bells and the loudspeaker well...but our loudspeaker plays a plethora of different sounds, from propaganda-esque readings to pop music (every sha-la-la-la, every whoa-ooh-oh-oh)... In fact, I have an appointment on saturday to go to the broadcasting room--they want me to read some compositions in english over the loudspeaker--just the latest in a recent rush of public and press appearances. :)
Regarding "The Cult of Capsaicin". I ate a whole, garden-fresh (organic!), habenero pepper at work a couple of days ago. How could such a small, delightfully colored object cause so much ravaging devastation?