Chinese SAGAS – waiting for the man to fix the internet
This was in April 2009.
What a day!
I went to the internet company, which was not far from my house. I complained about not having any internet connection. The people in the company wanted me to go home and wait for the man. They had called him and he was SOMWHERE!
I know my people. Had I gone home I would perhaps see someone after a week or 2. No, I told them I would just wait for the man in the shop. I sat down and they looked at me, they called, they looked again and called again. It was obvious that the foreigner was not going anywhere, they had to accept that.
I had made up my mind. I would wait, he would come and I would bring him home with me. He would fix my connection and then, only then, could he go wherever he wanted to
While sitting in the internet shop, waiting for my man my thoughts wandered over the morning.
During lunch in the school we did not get any rice. The rice had finished and no more until next day. Being in China in a canteen this was not good and we were hungry, horrible.
No rice and the morning had not been good either. We were supposed to have our classes in the new building and there we would be able to listen to the tapes and just enjoy the English spoken through the speakers without any problems by English people. What a joy that would be. Some of my students would even be able to take a nap, of course trying not to let the teachers notice.
I was at the new building at 8 in the morning and I went upstairs to the classroom. Everything was dirty, horrible dirty and disgusting. Something had to be done!
I decided to wade over the workers in mud and dirt. The men were putting tiles on the floors. The students behind me in a straight line and out we went. Out into the sunshine and the wonderful weather. The class would be outside. What a wonderful day this would be.
For four hours we sat there, outside enjoying the sun on our faces and I trying to get my students to speak English, just talk about anything, I begged.
There is a problem here. The students need a leader. This morning they did not have a table, they did not have the chairs and they did not have a leader.
I told them they could talk about anything, anything at all, everything was on the table.
The birds were singing all around us. They could talk about the birds.
The flowers smiled the most beautiful smiles. They could talk about the flowers.
The ants travelled back and forth around the benches and the girls screamed. The ants living in the school yard are bigger than the little ones at my house. In my garden everything is blooming this time of the year and I suggested the girls could talk about the spring. No.
Just few days ago there were tiny goats with their parents walking on the road and the keepers following. Now, just few days later the youngsters are gaining confidence and becoming independent or at least trying to. The parents and the keepers try to make them follow the rules but there is a tiny bit of rebellion going on. They are naughty but so cute that I get tears in my eyes. Brown and white they are, jumping after each other and the mother hardly notices them, she knows what they can do and what is safe for them. She also knows that they are safe with 2 keepers and a lot of security guards from the schools around. The guards are used to keep the rules running and few goats are not a problem. When the little ones try to get into the traffic the screaming from the keepers and guards bring them quickly back.
I told my students they could talk about the little ones, the goats. No, they could not.
My solution, as often before was to make a story. I began and they continued. I became the leader. Every student had to add one sentence. It worked. We did speak in English, outside in the sunshine, far away from the dirt and mud and the tiles. One day we would go to the new building but not that day.
Now the Easter is approaching and the Christians singing. This Thursday is coming to an end. The last meal most likely just beginning.
I am sitting in front of the internet people. The people who are waiting with me and hoping the man arrives. Few customers do come into the shop. They all talk loudly. Why do the Chinese make so much noise? I wonder.
The man is still somewhere, the people ask me to go home and wait there. I am not going anywhere. I need my internet today.
My thoughts wander. Yesterday I went to two dormitories in 2 different universities. Just for a visit. Interesting to see the difference, the boys’ dorms are more modern I think I would say. They were excited to have the foreigner to talk to.
Yesterday there was a fire safety drill. The girls learned how to use the fire extinguisher but no route for escape introduced.
When I go to the other universities for the English corners I get the same questions again and again. Where do I come from? How long have I been in China? Where do I live? How do I like China? I tell them I come from Min Hou. They don´t understand that. I don´t look Chinese. The truth is that I come from Min Hou and if they ask me where I come from that is the correct reply. Anyway, the other day I met a group who did talk in English not about me. What a wonderful surprise.
Now the clock is half past 3. A lot of men coming into the shop, the money are dirty, the men are dirty, and they smell of cigarettes. The Chinese men smoke a lot. The women don´t smoke, except the hookers.
CUSTOMERS FIRST SERVICE FOREMOEST this is the sign in front of the desk.
A house being built next to the shop and I don’t have the imagination, a vivid one, to understand how it is going to be. The roof seems to be without walls! This is really strange.
Now there are more people in the internet shop. The boys have had lunch. The clock is almost 4. A man standing next to me has the ugliest toes I have ever seen.
Where is my man?
Will he come today or do I have to sleep in the shop?
The girls are worried. They will close in 2 hours. What to do with the stubborn foreigner?
A motor bike arrives.
My wonderful man is there.
He smiles and we leave together. He on his bike and I behind him in my car. We know each other.
Now all is well and I won’t let him go until he fixes my net. He knows that.