- My little group of friends. Although several people I liked a lot have left Kunming over the past couple months, I have a good group of friends here and we all see each other often. It’s been a while since this has been true for me; most of the places we’ve lived in the past few years I’ve had a group of friends most of whom don’t know each other, and I’ve been stuck in the Tyranny of the One-on-One Coffee.
Much as you love your friends, that routine gets really old. What doesn’t appear to get old is having delicious Indian food with a couple friends and one handsome fiancé, and then going to see the Michael Jackson concert movie (yes, I was dragged to it – but YES, I also really enjoyed it. I’M NOT GONNA SPEND MY LIFE BEIN’ A COLOR.) In case you’re wondering: all of my friends are Western. I don’t really like admitting that, because this was always something that I criticized about foreigners living in China before I moved back here. More on that issue at some point.
- Chinglish. In case you are unfamiliar with this term, it refers to a mashup of Chinese and English (like Spanglish or Franglais), but often refers to translations into English from Chinese gone very, very badly. (Remember that story about how when Pepsi first came to China the Chinese translated “Pepsi Comes Alive” as “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Dead”? I’m pretty sure that was an urban legend, but oh how I wish it were true.)
Anyway, I know that it’s a little childish to continue to be amused every time you see “fried crap” on a menu when you know they meant “fried carp”, but I can’t help myself. And occasionally you get the right combination of being in a ridiculously silly mood and then BAM! you spy a couple great pieces of Chinglish, such as these 10-foot tall posters spotted while exiting a movie theater last week:
Here’s lookin’ at you, Henfly.
- Possibilities for strangeness in China. After four and half months living in Kunming, life is starting to seem pretty normal. I do normal things like going to work, doing laundry and seeing friends. I could definitely use more experiences that expose me to the many strange experiences that are allowed to occur in a developing society that, authoritarian impulses aside, appears at times to exist in a state of back-street-anarchy and otherwise promote pastimes that Westerners might consider…questionable. For example, why have I not yet visited Kunming’s Dwarf Kingdom after consuming copious amounts of some hallucinogen or other? I REALLY DON’T KNOW.Nevertheless, Kunming has excellent little ways of strangifying your day for you, even when you’re not looking for it: Troupe of shoe store shop girls dressed in mock-police officer uniforms performing a synchronized hip-hop/military dance routine on the sidewalk? Oh yes. Being offered a drink over dinner from a bathtub-sized jar of grain alcohol with giant pickled lizards suspended in it? And how.
Just when you’re fixing to tackle the guy who full-on SNEEZED directly on an unsuspecting woman’s face as she exited an elevator, something bizarre little wonder will present itself to bring a smile to your face. Thank you, China.