Live from Dalian to share with you some recently observed comedies of errors – all somewhat related to the cultural nuances of living in China (but of course!).
Lesson number one: do not under any circumstances leave space heaters unattended in classrooms full of children. Even (and maybe most especially) when they are under your desk. This may result in your coat (the one that rested on your chair) going up in smoke and almost flames. Then these children will run into the hallway yelling ‘fire’, which is of course exactly what they should do. Panic will ensue and you will be left with a crispy coat and smoky classroom. And all this in less than five minutes! Most importantly, remember that China has very different safety standards for space heaters, ones that would make such contraptions no where close to legal in Canada.
Lesson number two: When trying to move a car with 6 other men communication becomes very important! Last week our entire school tried to board buses and drive to our auditorium for an assembly. Unfortunately, there was one car that parked in the way and blocked our exit path. After trying to find the driver with zero luck our principal and Chinese driving staff attempted to ‘bounce, bounce, move…bounce, bounce, move…” the car out of the way. Apparently it would have worked but the coordination was off and without a common language….well what was already difficult became impossible. I however, thoroughly enjoyed watching this process from an upstairs window!
Lesson number three: Just don’t get tattoos in a language different from your own. Or at the VERY least get a native speaker to check the spelling…content…etc. So many just go wrong. Or are awkward. I do however, understand the appeal to tattoos in different languages; they’re more privet, they capture a foreign experience etc. But at the same time it makes you look rather silly (not to mention sometimes borderline culturally insensitive) to have branded yourself with something that doesn’t make sense! Prime example: a co-worker’s husbands co-worker (hows that for convoluted?) has the tattoo “Only god can judge me” on his forearm. This certain co-worker had to point out to him that ‘judge’ is in fact spelled ‘judge’ instead of ‘judje” as he had written. There is now a sword going through the second, misplaced ‘j’ to hide his permanent spelling mistake. See the sideways picture below for details!