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墨点 Ink Blot #3: Floating Ciphers

10 Jun

Originally posted @ http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_5ff9c4b70100vl5y.html.

I’ve just signed an apartment contract for a 2 bedroom place in Wudaokou. Xiuming is my intermediary agent. She is slightly younger than me, new to the biz, having just moved here from Hebei last year.

There have been a few moments where we’ve both struggled with understanding proper registration and leasing procedure. She’s proposed some short-cuts, I’ve had to rein her back in at times, and we’ve both made plenty compromises and mistakes. I now know that all this time, we were really only ringing around one prime unwritten goal, that we would see all this through to its satisfactory end.

Today, we signed a contract, after four days that oscillated between 8 AM and 11 PM, rain showers and sunny skies, wait rooms and motor lanes.

So the lease is binding, but properly speaking, was a mere formality. Indeed, all it got was a quick go-through from me, and was probably not even originally typed by her. Beneath the words, floating ciphers, was one simple sentiment: we are happy.

***

I enjoy talking with her, and we will probably ring around something else soon — the dinner table, most likely.

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墨点 Ink Blot #2: A Tale of Two Webs

10 Jun

Originally posted @ http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_5ff9c4b70100vl2o.html.

Xiuming: I asked the Internet people about setting up a network for you. They said that they can do it, but they can’t connect you to the foreigners’ Internet. I said, ‘What are you talking about? They use the same one.’ But they said no, and assured me that there’s our Internet, and the foreigners’ Internet. ‘We go on our websites, and they go on theirs.’ I don’t know much about this. Anyway, you can only connect to the Chinese Internet.

墨点 Ink Blot #1: Airplane Jottings

10 Jun

Originally posted @ http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_5ff9c4b70100vigl.html.

I took some notes on an index card while on the airplane, see below for a portion. Fell asleep soon after writing.

6/7/11. 2:50 AM. 中国国际航空公司 [Air China], CA 0948.

Ensconced tightly in my row seat, draped in blue blanket. Was asleep. Emerged from my cocoon after my neighbor started rustling. He had just received a meal tray. Oh Paulina, so typical. Always roused by food, even when unconscious.

To be waken up at 2:30 AM for a meal is some perverse glutton’s fantasy, and here I was, living it. Under most circumstances, I think, I would have been happily compliant. But at that moment, I felt like a farm pig, soon to be force fed and transported, fattened, to the slaughter.

Fine, okay, my imagination was running wild. I was asked if I wanted the seafood rice or the beef noodles.I chose the noodles.

***

Strangely, my neighbor, a man of 70-years, had a completely different meal. Whereas most people on the plane had either the rice, or the noodles — supper, essentially, since it was 5:30 PM Beijing time — he had breakfast. Sausage and eggs. The old man is allergic to something, but what? Dinner?

More puzzling still were his beverage choices. He just downed an entire can of Yanjing beer, and had a cup of coffee to boot. Breakfast, beer, and coffee at 3AM? Dear sir, you are definitely messing with my concept of time. Dealing with the time difference once I land will probably come easy.