First time on this blog? Beijing Traffic Lesson: Left Turn is probably a good place to start.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Cell Phone Like This Will Get You Beat Up In Beijing

I mean, LOOK at it! The screen's not even in COLOR!

Since my own phone disappeared into the night in the clutches of an evil taxi several weeks ago, I've been using a co-worker's first-generation RAZR. But then he had to take it back so his wife could use it, and I moved down the totem pole to this ancient Nokia, which another coworker had lying around, possibly found at an archaeological dig.

Next week I think I'm going to be issued a Motorola Brick with a whip antenna.

The Nokia does have one cool feature, though: You can field-strip it in about 2 seconds flat.


When my family was here, I actually did come home for lunch one day to find that my mother had made me grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. It was delightful.

But they've all been gone for almost two weeks now, and I've been surviving on the stockpile of food they left behind (augmented by a few small purchases.) Last night, however, I came home and discovered my refrigerator contained the following:
  • Blueberry jam
  • Pickles
  • Soy sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Butter
  • A small amount of cheese
  • Baking soda (to keep my pickles from tasting like blueberry jam)
I was even out of bread, so I couldn't do ketchup, cheese, soy sauce and pickle sandwiches. I was just about to order in from Annie's Italian when I got a text message from my coworker, asking if I wanted to join him and some other folks at a restaurant in 798.

So I found my way through the darkened art district/light industrial area, past the shirtless men sitting on the sidewalk trying to keep cool, past the crowd gathered outside a small store watching soccer on a TV that had been set on the stoop, and joined them at the AT Cafe. Once again, as my wife pointed out, it sounded like the setup of a joke: An Englishman, a Scotsman, two Americans and two Indians. And once again, the other American made me feel like an ignoramus: he spoke Thai, Cantonese, French and Spanish. ("But I don't do Germanic languages," he conceded, obviously disheartened.)

I ordered some Singapore noodles, which were tasty but interesting - they seemed to be made with fettuccine, and had strips of what appeared to be luncheon meat in them.

Went back to the police station to get a new temporary residence permit, which will carry me through the conclusion of my stay. I believe that is my last bit encounter with government paperwork in China. And this time they even left my gender intact!