As usual, I had an intense Friday morning Chinese lesson. I had gotten my front bike tire replaced the previous day after thinking it was low and then, when I got to the bike-fixing station, realizing it was completely split. Stupid cheap piece of crap bike. I guess that's what one can expect from a $20 bike, though! Anyway, it runs much more easily now.
I realized that I keep forgetting to mention the fish-bags. This was an amazing sight I saw while biking along the same route to my Chinese lesson, but a couple of weeks ago. It was a man with a tricycle trailer all full of big inflated garbage bags. At first I thought they were full of garbage, but no, they were smooth. As I got closer, I realized that each one was half full of water and half-full of air. And in the water of each big garbage bag: a big long fat fish! We're not talking goldfish here. We're talking something approaching the size of salmon, being kept alive in partly inflated garbage bags and sold on the street from the back of a tricycle trailer. What a sight!
My Chinese lesson was very good as usual. I asked all my questions, we studied two poems very commonly learnt in Chinese secondary school, and a whole host of sayings. Afterwards, I had lunch with my teacher in the nearby cafeteria. I am hoping that she had lunch with me because she wanted to and not because she felt obligated, but it would have been easy for her not to--she would only have to wait until I left first as she usually does. Instead she came down with me and asked me if I was going to have lunch. So I think it was okay. We had an interesting chat.
All this left me very tired, however.
Still, on the way home I was determined to pick up a package I had been notified about. It turns out that if I'm not home when they try to deliver a package to me, they put a slip in my mailbox and I have to go pick up the package at the appropriate post-office. I wasn't sure where the post-office was, but the slip had the number. I paused on my bike and called it, when I thought I was nearly in the right neighborhood. She gave me directions all right, but I didn't understand them. I found a different post-office in the huge construction site that is the Haidian Book City. From them I got different directions. Also in the process, I managed to buy a four-book series I'd been looking for--it's on the old side, so rarely found in bookstores, but I found it in this tiny hole-in-the-wall place which had (given the construction) holes its walls as well.
The package was from my parents and contained, among other delights, a bag of my mom's home-grown lavender. I had requested this, as I'd heard that smelling lavender before going to bed seems to promote better and more restful sleeping. Worth a try, right? I have so many stresses and worries here that sometimes it's hard to sleep! Amusingly, in order to get the package I had to fill out a form in Chinese. The lady at the post-office was very very gracious in telling me what to write, and even how to write the characters that I had a mental blank about. Chinese characters are so treacherous in memory. They slip out of your brain like fish from a net with too-big holes. But in the end I got my package.
I tried again to go to the Chinese department and register, but no luck.
Then I went home. I almost forget a dinner engagement I had, but in the course of a rather lazy late afternoon of novel-reading, I suddenly remembered it.
This was dinner with the communication association. Here is a big formal picture.
It was an interesting time. I talked to many people. One girl I spoke to, an accounting major with what seems to be a very bright future in the field of consulting, I talked to for a long time. She was such a tiny girl, but very full of confidence, a senior, currently going through a job interview process. She was polite but not the slightest bit shy, young but never at a loss. She asked what I did? I explained, and she said that she considered people who do philology to be very rare and precious, like pandas. I was really delighted by the comparison. It seems important to protect and encourage pandas, even if they're expensive and no one can come up with a damn think that they're useful for. Most people think they shouldn't go totally extinct!