Monday, 10 February 2014

Of dogs in bags, art, work and the usual hi jinks in China.

So Christmas in China was 'business as usual' and teaching continued.  I was invited to another exhibition opening at the gallery I know. So that meant a day out for Snooks.  But because she's not allowed, or disliked, on buses and the Metro it means she's has to be bagged. Good jobs she's little.

On the bus
 One the bus

At the gallery

I had met this bunch of film editing students at Marks place Christmas eve so we invited them to come with us to the gallery

Snooks had to get in the photos

 But she wasn't that interested in the art, but had her picture taken a lot. In fact Jo Jo the gallery owner bought her a new coat, but we haven't got to see it yet!

 Its started to get cold just around Christmas time, after having a real prolonged autumn with some unseasonal warm weather. 

Another evening around the New Years holiday I went to a bar in Nanjing City to meet up with friends. It was buy 1 get 1 free burger night. This is Konstantin on the left a Russian sculpture who teaches Art/Sculpture at a local Uni and Stuart.  

Stephens brother had visited on Christmas day and arrived bearing gifts from the UK which included scrabble.  So Stephen and I soon popped off to our local bar - Puzzle to have a game. 

I got to say New Years Eve here was a bit of a wash out.  The majority of foreign teachers have finished work much earlier than me, most of them at Universities and colleges probably finished around Christmas time so most were all off travelling. My semester was due, initially to finish on or around the 18th January.  So I arranged to meet AJ at the Blue Marlin in Xianlin, where I lived last time.  But due to transportation issues her ended up not making it.  So I sat in the bar like a lemon for a while on my own, a couple of guys popped in with their wives/girlfriends but were en route for restaurants. This was about 6pm and the place was empty. So I jumped in a taxi and headed for my mate Marks place and then we went onwards to a couple of bars on his University campus.  But to be honest it was all a bit dull. We lasted till midnight. And them I had the task of finding a taxi and getting home which from where Mark is is sometimes a bit of a problem and after midnight the Metro is closed but I think I managed to find a gypsy cab.

Later my Saturday Job had a christmas/new year party . So we went out for a meal then to KTV which is karaoke - which the Chinese love. 



But while at KTV something strange was happening to me.  I started to go to the loo a few times. I didn't really notice as I had been drinking beer.  But when we left to go to the Metro it started to get more urgent and by the time I was on the platform I was desperate. So desperate I had to pee in a doorway - there were no close loos, or wet myself.  As I waited for the train - a matter of minutes I had to pee about 6 times. Luckily it was quite late by then and not many people around.  Then on the train I had to get off half way home to rush outside and pee, then again at my home station. Then I had to stop the taxi halfway home. Once home I was practically peeing none stop. In bed I had to get up every 6 minutes or so to pee. I didn't really get to sleep until about 4am. The next day one of my teacher friends took me to the hospital to see the doctor.  yes I had a urinary infection and I got antibiotics and Chinese herbal medicine.

This is the doctors - theres no sense of confidentiality  - the doors open, people stand in the room. In fact I had to go behind a chest level screen to drop my trousers for the doctor to have a feel and there were other people in the room!

The drugs plus honeysuckle herbal tabs. 

That was quite a while ago now Im taking the last of the antibiotics tomorrow, but Im not sure the infection is gone. I might have to see the doctor again, but I have to wait until I have a Chinese friend to take me. 

So I mentioned that we thought our teaching would end around the 18th of January. But then we had a message from our agent that teaching would continue until the 24th of January.  Then a text informing us that we should be in the office from 9-5 five days a week. This was a bit of a shock because we do have contracts which stipulate the hours worked and in the office. So something was up.

When i went to the office the next day, not at 9am I hasten to add. This instruction was reiterated as it was from the big boss.  I simply said 'Thats not my contract'. And left it at that.  The next day we had an emissary from the office downtown come to talk to us me and Stephen.  Apparently something was up between the school and the agent. They really needed us in the office 9-5 at least unit the 24th.  We reiterated that it was not in our contract and that we were not road sweepers just to be ordered around, big boss or no big boss and in fact we could get 100 jobs in Nanjing tomorrow if we wanted (though not as nice or as well paid as this one!). So to be 'helpful' we said we would do the 9-5 unit the 24th and we agreed that in the new semester we would do the 10 office hrs a week as the contract requires.  This was a happy compromise.  But the next day the same woman and another boss Carol turned up and explained it all again.  We did underline what good teachers we were, against the usual crop of graduates who were in country on extended gap years with no commitment or experience of teaching. 

Stephen had a little problem because our line manager had told us we finished on the 18th he had, with her help booked tickets to Vietnam. But the agency bosses were forgiving and her went on the 20th I think and I was left to hold the fort. 

This involved sitting in the office 9-5 doing sweet FA as in these last few days there was no teaching. The poor kids had to sit in the classrooms watching films and TV programmes. occasionally I had to sit in the classroom with them during my normal teaching slots. 

I also had to attend a 'meeting'  - held all in Chinese. The agency were trying to recruit a new school and the principle and leading teachers/deans were visiting my school. I eventually spoke to one of their principles about foreign teachers experience. I kissed ass and said all the right things. Despite still having to rush to the loo quite often.

Then we had parents day  Where I had to listen to the bosses speeches, all in Chinese, but I also had to do a presentation in English, translated by a colleague, to the parents. As the big boss was there I had made a PPT which was a huge promotional vehicle for myself.  It went down well. 

This is Tony Zhou my big boss - the owner of the agency

 This is the principle of the International Department - Mr Sun I think 

All the students got lots of prizes and awards

Then the teachers all went for a meal

The past few weeks had been really stressful for us what with all the machinations about work time, it had been worse for the Chinese teachers and you can see how happy they are at the meal here with the bosses. From left Rebecca, Grace, Sheri and Julia.

 Before the holiday proper I went into town to visit with Sam - of which more in another blog and he took me to visit an IT company on something like the 65th floor of a huge building  This is Nanjing City

The IT company had a whole floor with no walls, so it was a sort of in the google model. With a coffee bar, rest areas, play areas, gym, sleeping areas, and work areas for the geeks/geniuses

It was all pretty cool

 I've also started painting again. This is a girl called Boo - I met her and her boyfriend at Marks, she posted a picture of herself in these pink fluffy PJs so I thought I'd have a go at painting people  rather than dogs or animals all the time.  This is watercolour.  She liked it.

Then this is another woman I met at Marks, a photographer, she lives in another city, but she asked me to have a go at her after seeing Boo's portrait.  Another watercolour. I posted it to her, she liked it and sent me a calendar with her photos on as a fair swop.

I was asked to do this one. But its one my wall now. It was from a photo of a girl on the metro with a big bear

I did this one for a teacher friend who has helped me a lot during the last semester but was leaving the school as she was under too much stress here as she is also trying to finish an MA. 

Interestingly, I met an American Artist for the first time yesterday and was showing him my pictures and he told me he had seen my Cat! He had been at a meeting with other artists in the city and someone was showing this picture around - so maybe Im becoming famous!!!

So thats the episode up to the Chinese spring festival and lunar new year of which more in the next blog. 

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