Monday, July 25, 2005

Eat more!

I went to Shenzen again yesterday with Daisy's mum, the last of our outings together!

We were also accompanied by Daisy's mum's younger brother and sister in law. Despite their age advantage, they couldn't keep with Daisy's mum who became increasingly frustrated with their slow walking speed.

We ended up ditching the two of them at the border before we re-entered Hong Kong. I was surprised that our party lasted that far! That left Daisy's mum free to chat up another senior citizen on the train home. I've notice that wherever we go, she has an incredible talent for starting conversations with the most handsome stranger in the vicinity.

The main focus of the day was a three hour stint at yum cha where table talk went round in circles like this:
'ah-Joe! sek lah! sek ngau to!' eat! eat more cow's stomach
'sek m douh! ngo bau jo lah!' I can't! I'm already full
'momentai! man man sek ah!' No problem! Keep eating slowly!
'sek m douh! ngo ho bau lah!' I can't! I'm really full!
'ok, ok, hoy chiso lah, ha ha ha' So go to the toilet!

I didn't need to go but the long walk across the restaurant seemed like a good idea. After a toilet trip the above cycle would start again...

Eating is going to be the main theme of my week and a half left in Hong Kong. I'm realising that there are many things I might not be able to eat when I leave here and I'm trying my best to fit as much of them in as possible in the next ten days.

On top of the priority list are:
- watermelon
- tofu fa
- egg white cake
- Nepali set dinners
- Philippino mangos
- steamed milk pudding
- papaya

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Funny but not funny

I have read two ridiculous things today. The first was a poster in the post office:

'Surprise your beloved with our exquisite philatelic products'

The other was in an email from an American friend travelling in Afghanistan (don't ask!).

'Men, women and children scurried along the dirty dusty streets. Women still wore burkas even in the scorching heat. Youngs boys would be out on the streets begging for food and money. There were open sewers everywhere giving out an filthy stench.

Despite everything it was good to be in Kabul. This was the city that had changed hands many times in the course of the war in these thirty years. The Russian backed communists had taken it over from the Afghan King in the late seventies, then the Muhajadeen had ruled the city in the early nineties. The Taliban took it over in late nineties and finally the city was liberated by the allied forces after 9/11.

Marks of war are everywhere. Buildings are scarred with bullet holes and shell marks. Streets are pot marked with mine explosions and bomb holes. You can see the lines of war on the furrows of people when you look at them. You would think they were thankful to the Americans for getting rid of the Taliban but on the contrary anti-American sentiments run rife because of the negative propaganda they receive through the Arab media.'

Thursday, July 07, 2005

No lemon

I was very happy this morning when I went for breakfast and the cashier lady remembered that I wanted black tea.

I was even happier when she called out something like, 'use the bag that we use in lemon tea but don't add any lemon'!
So maybe there wasn't an easier way to explain it after all.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Chungking Idol

Many English teachers would die for a class that can engage in independent discussion. I spend a lot of my class time wondering if I should kill the discussion before someone dies.

There are certain topics which you expect to excite people - corruption, colonialism, the importance of the French language and anything involving George Bush.

But we're not limited to those. Infact my class can argue about anything - the number of large towns in northern Togo, the superiority of Congolese mangos, the effect of rice on the digestive system (next to poison according to many of our clients).

After a someone explained the word 'idol' during the last class I decided to do some concept checking and ask each student to name an idol, not necessarily their own because I used to hate having to say personal things like that when I was in school.

With a long list on the board I decided to have a knockout competition to determine our number one idol. Two by two, the idols were put to a whole class vote.

Several joke nominations were easily defeated - Eyadema Gnassingbe, Osama Bin Laden and George Bush.

Then the jumping around and defeaning shouting began, despite the fact that we were voting by a show of hands. Jean Paul II took Pele down. Martin Luther King was declared less worthy than Michael Jackson. Congoloese singer Papa Wemba sat on Craig David and Bruce Lee was taken out by Malcolm X.

After much excitement, Nelson Mandela was declared Chungking Idol, followed by Jean Paul II, Michael Jackson and Papa Wemba. Papa was helped by humour value - everyone remembered that I had named him as my deity of choice in order to stay out of a religious argument the previous week.

At least we all now understand the meaning of the word 'idol'. Meanwhile I was a little disappointed that MLK had gone so early. And curious as to how Craig David made it so far. I had assumed he probably faded out of the music scene since the last time I listened to FM radio?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Black tea

After much frustration, I've found a way to ask for plain black tea in a restaurant where I often eat breakfast - lemon tea with no lemon.