Monday, September 29, 2014

Domestic pleasures

A day of feeling at home in Shanghai, perfect for the eve of my four-week anniversary.

Met a Fulbright student for coffee and realized, as we compared notes, that I've actually already met a lot of people and learned a lot of stuff. We've both found ourselves left more to our ownd devices than expected and are learning how to make Fudan work for us. Learned some other useful things, too - like that there's a bar with American craft beers on tap on 大学路 University Avenue.

Had someone give the bike I've been using a tune-up and now it glides like a dream, no more clicking and wheezing. He oiled every part of it, including the brakes, which now work beautifully but still squeal something awful. As part of my growing bicycle savvy I think I understand that the squeal is not a bug but a feature. Easier and less annoying to use than the bell as a way of making sure people know you're there when it matters.

Went to the local covered market and actually bought some vegetables there! I've been getting things at the supermarket, where they are plastic-wrapped with prices written on them, but the woman who's helping me with my Chinese almost had an apoplectic fit when she heard that. Market is cheaper and fresher! And you can haggle, you must haggle! Well, to the market I went, though haggle I did not. Made rather a nice broccoli, mushroom and tofu thing for dinner.

And finally watched a quite gripping 2013 film on TV called "全民目击" - "Silent Witness" in English; channel 6 has English and Chinese subtitles sometimes. Although I understood little more than exclamations, I feel I'm getting somewhere, recognizing more words every day. I've started keeping a Chinese diary, proofing and tweaking my efforts with the imperfect aid of online translators, and I think this says that while I didn't understand the meaning, I heard Chinese language: 虽然我意思并不明白了,但是中文语言听到了!

Tomorrow: the cleaning lady (with whom I communicate in Chinese by text message), my Chinese language session (finishing the first volume of 顺利遍 Advanced Elementary), taking a glass (sic) with the French professor who's been my most helpful host, and then going to the Shanghai Concert Hall to a concert of the Melbourne Bach Choir - a member sings in another choir with my sister, and has not only a comp ticket for me but something special from Australia. All good!

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