Chinese SAGAS part 6 my new job in Quanzhou
I am a genius! No doubt about it!
After arriving in Quanzhou and going to the school, the first day with Jeanne, I had to find my way, on my own.
As you know, those of you who have been following me, I have a huge problem, and have had it for a very long time. The problem is finding my way. I get lost all the time. I got lost in Iceland, I got lost in London, I got lost in China and I get lost wherever I am, no matter how straight forward my road is. I get lost.
Now I was in Quanzhou. I did have an idea that my dorm was about 15 minutes’ walk from the school, or there about. I also knew that some of the teachers went to work by their scooters.
Jeanne had showed me how to get home, as well as how to walk to the school.
There was a problem. She had showed me 2 routes.
That confused my brain, a lot.
When, on my own for the first time, home from the school, I took a left turn instead of a right one.
Where was I? I had no idea.
On my way, trying to let the confusion make some sense in my poor brain, I met some students from my school. I knew they were from my school. I recognised the uniform! They tried to explain to me how I should get home! They really tried, but I was not quite sure. Maybe they were making fun of me and showing me the wrong way. At least they were laughing a lot.
Suddenly there came a boy, one I knew and I was sure I could trust. He was riding a bike. He told me to follow him because he also lived in my dorm. He took me to a spot where I could not get lost, left me there and told me not to take any turns. No turns, neither to left or right, just ahead.
I think he was a tiny bit worried about this teacher and his neighbour!
I always have a plan, to make sure I won’t get lost. I find a landmark, a house or a statue or something, which I will recognise and know I am not lost forever. The problem was, in Quanzhou, on my school route, that the houses all looked alike. I tried to make the landmarks stick to my brain, but there were so many possibilities. I could take many, and I mean many, turns and end up completely losing it.
I could not be the laughing stock every day. I was going to stay in my school at least four months and there had to be something else my students could find to amuse themselves.
Although devastating this being lost ability of mine there is an upside. I connect with several people, people that would not dream of approaching me, but did not hesitate to help me. That is what’s so amazing about the Chinese people. They are always willing to help. Soon everyone in my neighbourhood knew me. They knew I was the one who got lost and the one who needed help. They also knew that I was kind and friendly.
Eventually I just took photos along the way and could follow them! The best way for you if you are like me and losing your way; take photos, but of course just if you are walking, driving is different and more complicated.
It was amazing, when going to work in the morning, meeting all the ones who were selling their fruits and veggies and sometimes the butchers arrived. They tried to sell me and sometimes I bought some fruits. They had chickens, alive and many of them really beautiful. No, I did not eat meat and eventually they understood. Yes, this one was strange, even stranger than the other foreigners, but she was ok and they did talk to her.
Sometimes when I was on my way, that was after I learned not to turn, the teachers on their scooters came and asked if I wanted a lift. Oh no, I was not going on a scooter. I would rather dye walking. Scooters were horrifying. They drove too fast and I was not taking any chances. Walking was my way.
During my stay in China I went only once by a scooter and I think I have never been as afraid in my life. One of the teachers invited me to lunch, I thought he would pick me up by car but he came by his scooter. I told him we could take my car. No, he was going to drive me. He put me on the seat behind him, put a helmet on my head and I put my arms around him. I did not die but when we arrived at the restaurant I thought about how to get back without having to be hanging behind my friend while he was enjoying the ride.
I walked back! 50 minutes, told my friend I needed the exercise and it was necessary for my digestion!
When I was at home in Min Hou, walking around and exploring the neighbourhood, outside the gate, the security gate, I often got lost. One day I met some of the caddies; they lived in the village, but worked in my neighbourhood. They invited me to have dinner with them but I told them I wanted to get home before dark. Did I know how to get home? They asked. Of course! It was not that far.
Well, after walking for about 50 minutes I arrived again at the same house. This was a wonderful evening and everyone eating outside. They looked up. What happened? Why was I back?
I could not find my way, was my lame reply.
Oh, sit down and have dinner with us and my daughter will take you back, the mother told me.
I had a wonderful Chinese dinner, lots of laughter and fun, not understanding everything but at least some and afterwards the daughter took me to the highway and it was impossible, even for me the genius, to get lost. There were no turns, but the wonderful young woman waited to make sure I crossed the highway and did enter the gate, the correct one so the security guards would make sure I got home. It was by the way already dark, and the caddie had called the guards!
Let’s go back to the story in Quanzhou. Sometimes it was raining. Sometimes it was sunshine in the morning but raining in the afternoon. I did not use umbrella for sun protection and usually I did not expect the rain, although it came. What to do then? It was raining like hell. Not a dry spot on anyone. Along my road there were many tiny shops. In those shops is also the owners’ home. Of course I had spoken with many of them and they knew who I was. When the rain suddenly decided to make my life miserable on my road back from work I went into one of the shops waiting for it to stop. The rain did not stop. The shopkeeper went backdoors to fetch an umbrella. She gave me the umbrella, I could continue walking home and just returned the umbrella next day.
How great was that!
It was just an ordinary gesture from the Chinese in Quanzhou. Helping is and was the motto.
For the time being I think this is the last one about Quanzhou but there will be more. Next time I am going to write about something in Min Hou, my home.