Thursday, July 28, 2011

The themes of the week

Chinese TV shows. Brochure content. Manipulation. Not necessarily in that order.

And if two people tell you that it's true, then it's probably true. But then I guess I knew it all along.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peeping Wangs

We don't really have a concept of peeping toms in China. Just an overly curious next-building neighbor who likes to look out of his window.

I've forgotten about this quaint feature of city life. And it wasn't until I was walking around my house in um not much, that I finally remembered.

Because he waved. Very enthusiastically.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Office Lady #11

Our company was making promotional videos and mobilized almost everybody at the office to be a part of the shoot. I didn't land a major role because apparently I didn't look enough like a factory girl.
But I did get recruited to act the part of office lady #11. While I was waiting to get filmed, I started chatting with my colleague, Elvis, who was supposed to act as the customer. That was when I found out that he was an ex-soldier, a catalougue model, and now a micro-credit salesman. I then shared a few stories of my own and started showing him photos on my computer of the time when I accidentally ate sheep @%&@^.


I looked up, startled. The crew had been filming us the whole time. And apparently the director loved me. Because I was such a natural. And he praised my little touches of pointing to the computer and smiling. All of a sudden, I was being added into scenes left and right. The marketing department even awarded me a company USB for contributing so much to the video.

So I just want to take this opportunity to thank my parents. And Kenji for constantly using me as a film object for his documentary classes. And the director for seeiing in me the potential to play office lady #11. And of course, for the support of my imaginary fans. I love you all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dinner Partiers

Government officials rule China - one over-priced dinner and seven bottles of red wine at a time.

Businesses scramble to pay the bill.Because everybody knows that unless you grease the wheels, nothing will ever get done without a nod from the local official.And so people smile and play ridiculous drinking games with each other. And sometimes the girls come in and play as well. At the end of the night, you end up with very drunk old men who flatter each other incessantly, very young girls who laugh at all the inane jokes, and probably very little value in the actual business that actually got discussed.But that's business as usual.

My boss typically tries to shield me from such company dinners. He's a non-drinker himself, so he'll need a subordinate to drink on his behalf. Besides, he doesn't think that I should be exposed to those scenes.

But tonight was different. When official Tang* said that it was not necessary for my boss to bring an assistant to translate, my colleague casually mentioned that I was the new girl. And so I was asked to go. Because official Tang apparently liked  new girls.

But Tang was tame though. And no girls ever came in. Probably because his boss was sitting there, reminiscing about his Vietnam War days and talking about the corruption in Chinese national sport teams.

I had a rather enjoyable time, except I hardly ate anything because I was busy translating.

My takeaway at my first dinner with government officials?

Two officials don't make it right. But they sure do make it better.


* This super common last name has been changed to another super common last name to ensure the anonymity of the official. If there's any resemblance to another official Tang,then I guess it validates my point about Chinese government officials in general.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dating girls

The girls here just love me. Well some more than others. And they show it by grabbing my hands or clinging onto my arms. Especially when we're taking a romantic walk after dinner.

Just like the unspoken code where girls go to the bathroom together in droves, this is their affectionate way of demonstrating that they want to bring you into their group. They are so insistent. I just haven't figured out a culturally sensitive way of getting out of holding hands yet.

In the meantime, I just squirm. And try to engineer all sorts of ways to naturally loosen their grip on my arm. I point frantically to lamp posts or I look for non-existant objects in my bag. But mostly, I just suffer in silence.

I sympathize with the boys now. Girls are so clingy. And their hands are so soft. It makes me want to throw up.

I feel bad for the boys I've dated.

Casey - be prepared.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

First Day

I started work yesterday.

I had to keep a straight face when some of my coworkers told me their names. Craven. Elvis. Cinderella. Candy. King. I'm still waiting to see if they live up to their names.

I translated for my boss while he interviewed a prospective employee. I guess when the guy wrote on his resume that he was fluent in English, he had a relatively loose interpretation of the word "fluent." Or "English." But he did have a spiffy one-liner when he told us his English name, "James. Clear and strong." Kind of reminded me of my cough medicine.

I should really tell you about how much I loved my first day. Five minutes after I tentatively walked into the office, I just knew that I had made the right choice. The enthusiasm and energy was absolutely contagious. I was so excited that I even worked overtime on my first day.

But right now, I'm sitting in a Starbucks siphoning internet access, while sipping overpriced cold chocolate, and I'm in more of a sarcastic mood. So I'll save the passionate/ idealistic post for later. Because a company as great as this, with the potential to improve so many Chinese workers' lives, deserves a better blogging effort. And I deserve a better drink.