Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Just Flew In

Back to Boston is the theme here...after 2.5 years (although I call it 3 years) living in China because quite frankly a day in China is like 1.5 days in regular life.  Time takes longer when it's life as opposed to say, a holiday because everything is harder when it's regular life.  There is no hotel gift shop in real life with all the little essentials you might have forgotten.

There is a store that might have diapers, but maybe not the kind you are familiar with and they might have that variety next week (of course that's when you begin to understand Chinese, so not a day 1 item).  The same scenario is played out with peanut butter and I don't even mean the imported variety, Chinese Skippy is cool with us.  Tampons...for a while you could find a few and then none and now someone has finally filled that gap with some entrepreneurial spirit.

But if I thought finding products at a relatively established expat grocery store was hard, and believe me it was, then understanding Chinese, Mandarin with only 4 tones was like learning to speak Latin..that's right, seemed impossible.  That being said, plenty of my expat friends could utter a few driving phrases "straight ahead", "turn right", "turn left", "stop here" and then there were the adventurous ones that could get some haggling done at a market for handbags as my mouth hung open in awe.  After all I could barely manage "dwoh shao chien?" (how much?) and then have to use the calculator to negotiate to which extent I would get ripped off.  The laowai discount was always at least 5 times more than what they vendor sold it to an Asian looking person..c'est la vie...live and learn to haggle harder I suppose.

My favorite things that I won't miss are the old grandma comments suggesting that my Boston born kids "must be cold" ta leng, "are they cold?" ta leng ma?, "not wearing enough clothes" ta maiyo yifu because the children weren't wearing at least 3 to 4 layers of clothing inside, never mind outside.  Outside, children had to be so over bundled that they shouldn't be able to move at all...necessitating the extra (6th and 7th) layers. 
  • squatty potties
  • spitting
My things I won't miss list is short...and maybe grown shorter in the past week as I sort of savor the experience of seeing everyone's knickers drying and dripping as I walk down the street or old men touching my blonde haired child or that old woman who once fed my baby a mystery food faster than I could say "oh good lord no".

The experience of living in China is one I'll have forever and while I relish the memories who doesn't love a place like Target?

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