Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chinese lab rat

So we talked to our bossman about the racism that was present in Avatar, and he was like "if you look for racism you are going to see it". It has also become evident, that the reason he doesn't have a problem with the portrayal of the noble savage is because he really thinks that Tibetans are the noble savages. So, uh, we're gonna let that one slide, because historical evidence suggests otherwise, but you know, I don't have a lot of friends here yet or anything. Social sabotage isn't really a goal at this point, and people don't really like to be told about their culture by people like me. But it's really interesting how people have seemed to adopt this view of Tibetan Buddhism that mostly comes from the west; the view that's full of peace and harmony with nature and each other, that ignores a lot of Tibetan history. Just re-enforces that context is everything, and people will encourage the stories and discourses that seem the most beneficial to them at the time. Wouldn't it be awesome if I could write my thesis on THAT!? (I can't...WAAAAAY too political and risky for research subjects).

In other, less hypothetical news, we went to get our health checks done so we could get our resident permits. We figured they were just going to test our blood for AIDS, syphilis and the heps (A and B). And that did happen, but then we also had to get a chest x-ray ( Canada we do skin tests!), and EKG (I didn't even know what it was until several hours later), blood-pressure, height, weight and colour-blindness. Has anyone ever been kicked out of China for having high blood pressure? Or being colour blind? And an EKG!?! REALLY?? And the EKG test machine really did look like something out of x-files. And we had no warning. My brave roomate went first when they were like "lie on the table", and we were like huh, that's weird. Then the doctor was like "ok, rool up your pants and lift up your shirt" and started attaching clamps and suction cups all over the place. My first thought was "GREAT, now we're lab rats for some kind of insane Chinese experiment being conducted on foreigners. GREAT." But it was (so I'm told) just an EKG. It was all so surreal. This whole damn place is so surreal though, that when stuff like that happens it almost feels normal. But after my roomate and I had recovered from the shock a little bit, we talked out how ridiculously pointless most of those tests were. It was either a scam to take as much money from us as possible or a venue to show off China's impressive collection of medical equipment, or both. Either way, it was confusing and strange, but it's over, and I didn't even test positive for syphilis (inside joke, if you don't get it, don't freak out, I've NEVER had syphilis).

In order to get our residence permits, we also had to go back to tour local police station and ask them to give us back some of the sheets they kept that they weren't supposed to. Nobody at this station speaks english, and we don't speak chinese. So a friend of ours talked to the cops via cellphone explaining our situation. Then the cop looks for our sheet and says "we don't have it". My roomate starts to hyperventilate (small exaggeration), and we're like, no, you have it (I can say that much). So he checks a different room that has a different file for each of us, and finds the papers we need. Relieved, we say thankyou and leave. As we were walking home though, it occurred to us that they have TWO files on us, in two different rooms. Weird right? ANYWAY, we got our residence permits, and after almost a month here I am now officially legally allowed to be here. Yay!

I have become mildly frustrated with work. After feeling out the situation a bit, it would seem that I was never given clear instruction or direction about what exactly I'm supposed to be doing, and I'm having difficulty getting any concrete guidance. This is annoying mostly because my talents are not being utilized effectively. I have recovered from the frustration low point and should be able to work something proactive out if I don't end up getting any concrete guidance from people. I just get irritated by poor communication of goals and such. But from what I've gleaned, this is a pretty common placement issue, so I should be able to find some kind of a solution. My roomate says she has some stuff she could use my help on, which is great. She's basically working on a medical anthropology PHD, so I'm definitely down for that. I'm also taking on a babysitting job...a friend of a friend has a niece that they want an anglophone for. At first I thought they wanted me to TEACH her english and I was like "errrrrrrgh..." but then it was clarified that all I would have to do is hang out with a 7 year old kid for a couple hours every week I was like "OH! SWEET! Sure!" Because I don't have friends and I have a lot in common with 7 year olds (too much in common? Screw you, keep your opinions to yourself!) Anyway, it should be fun, and maybe I'll finally get to go to the museums and the zoo and the park and stuff like that!

Starting today, and for all the rest of the week coming up, it's the chinese national holiday. So we're gonna go see stuff. Which means I should have pictures. There is also a huge lake nearby that people keep telling me I need to go see. My coworker has asked me like 5 times what I'm doing for the holiday, but I can't figure out if that's because he wants to go places with us or if he's just curious, and I don't want to make any social faux pas's by making assumptions. I think I'm going to resolve the confusion by asking if he wants to come with us. That would be awesome for us, because he's a local, and we'd be way less likely to get screwed. Also, this means I should have pictures by the end of next week. YAY!

I think that's the important stuff for now. OOH! Also, I found a place where you can get 10 dumplings for less than a dollar. That was exciting. And I'm having that problem where when I try to think in Chinese I think in Italian instead. Stupid Italy. I keep trying to make these short and keep failing. Sorry.


  1. Mary...I'm glad you don't have the syph LOL oh god!!! ... keep them long, they're interesting!

  2. Is it bad that I don't care if you ever actually have work to do as long as you keep blogging and show me this dumpling place in December? You are too hilarious, Mizz Thompson!

  3. I like that you had to write that disclaimer about the Syphilis.

    Also, China and Italy are the same place. True story.