Thursday, April 26, 2012

Random Observations 4/26


As we’ve noted previously, you see all sorts of folks in Zhongshan park, particularly exercising seniors. My two favorites the other morning were the little old lady who was so stooped over she was just a wee bit taller than Berkley – she blew by us with her power walking – and the old man who was running through the park in running shoes, a dress shirt and boxers – and that’s it.

While smoking is far more common in China than it is at home or even in Paris (surprisingly many people smoke there), the act is almost wholly confined to men here in China, at least out in public here in Shanghai. We rarely see women smoking which is why it was so startling to me to see an old woman with a smoke hanging out of her mouth the other day.

Flying Spring Airlines, a Chinese low cost airline primarily serving Shanghai, is great fun. Aside from the excellent customer service (returning Doug’s ipad, getting me a hotel room for a 3 hour delay),they do an exercise routine a little over midway through the flight. Now, I don’t know if they do this on other Chinese airlines (we’ve only flown one other airline when coming here from Xiamen), but Spring does on every flight, and it is awesome. The attendants come out in the aisles and follow along with a pre-recorded tape. They go through all sorts of motions – stretching of the arms and legs, rubbing of the forehead and earlobes, slapping of the arms and back, clapping, etc. The other great thing is that almost all of the passengers participate. Now, I don’t know why this is, but it’s really amusing to look around and see hundreds of people (the flights are ALWAYS full) pounding their backs or rolling their heads.

In addition to Chinese zookeeper, I think Chinese flight attendant must also be an exceedingly difficult job. The Chinese won’t turn off their cellphones (probably unnecessary anyway), stow their belongings, buckle their seat belts, or even stay in their seats when they’re supposed to. I’ve seen people standing up seconds after takeoff to look out the window. The second we land, people start standing up to remove their items from the overhead bin. The reminder to remain seated runs on a pretty much continuous loop until we reach the gate. I even saw someone try to get up to go to the bathroom while we were in our approach - luckily, one of her fellow passengers stopped her or it would have been up to the flight attendant. Those poor souls are constantly having to get up to respond to flight calls (not sure why they’re calling due to the language barrier, but Chinese passengers don’t seem to get that you push the call button once, it lights up and then you wait. They press it over and over and over again) or hopping up to reprimand a passenger during a time they should surely be strapped in. If forced to choose, I’d probably choose Chinese flight attendant over Chinese zookeeper, but it’s a tough call.

Last night, I taught my final graduate class at ECUPL. It was as much of a surprise to me as it may be to you that I’m done already. You see – near the beginning of the semester, I was told I would be teaching until May 16th. But last week when I came in to class, one of the students asked if that was our last class or if we would be having one more. Just as I started to say – no, we have several more classes – the faculty member who sits in on my class interrupted to ask if we could finish class this week. It seems that the students now want credit for sitting in on my class all semester, so she will be lecturing for 2-3 weeks at which point the students will write a paper and get credit. Now, I don’t know on what planet it is preferable for students to write a paper after 2-3 weeks of class as opposed to me grading a paper written by them after 2 months of class. Oh wait – yes I do: Planet China. I do still have some more things to do (one more undergraduate lecture and some guest lectures at other institutions here in Shanghai and other cities), but it looks like I’ll now have some more time to devote to my research. As my Fulbright colleague has taught me to say: TIC (as in This is China).

No comments:

Post a Comment