Once my gut told me to stop and my brain told me to go. My heart said nothing, it was beating too fast to give impressions. A few moments later I was sliding on the asphalt. Close but no cigar. Cycling always gave me a rough ride. 

My first gift

The Chinese society doesn't seem to be open to the fact of giving, offering.  They want to make money, always more ; a dime is a dime.  It's said everything has to be negotiated here.  I won't even mention the mess I and many others went through to find an apartment.  
After my first blog post yesterday (scroll down if you missed it) I went out for lunch to my favorite noodle place.  6 RMB for a noodle box, less than $1.  Things could be worse.  
After swiftly making my meal the cook lady came to sit near by. 
I had my Idea pad with me and was scribbling notes on articles I thought I had enough knowledge to write about as I scooped noodles into my mouth ; Chinese style, getting dirty.

Idea Box + Noodle Box= The perfect combo. 

 The locals eat early.  I was late for the party.  No one was there.   She saw me writing things down.  Human curiosity pulled her out of her chair and she came to read my notes.  She must have scanned through the consequent list quite fast as her eyes locked on "China".  She pointed at the word and smiled.  I explained what I was doing and ended with: "Good food gives me good ideas."  She flushed and smiled again "Oh thank you."  She came back a minute later with freshly prepared dumplings. 

2 herb & 2 corn dumplings straight out of the steamer

Yeah, things could definitely be worse. 


There is at least one day on which Chinese people actually do offer a gift to each other though, mid-Autumn festival.  It was last Sunday.  It's a celebration of the full moon with a slight spiritual thing to it.    

So on Sunday evening the giant Sun-Yat-Sen University campus started to look like this.

Pleasant to see families gathering and spending good time, though the mosquito fest got us out of there in a jiffy. 

It's a day on which Moon Cakes are offered as good luck presents.  Wait did I say a cake for good luck?  Put it this way: superstition rules the nation.  There is no number 4 in this country.  No 4th floor, no 14th, no 24th, and so on. You'll get a 3A or a 13A instead.  Even phone numbers won't have the number 4 in them.  And you won't find anything priced at 4 RMB for 500 grams in a local market.  I could go on for ever.  They are really serious about it.  Our Chinese language teacher in class gave us a good laugh as she warned us to stay away from the number 4 (as well as nightclubs, but that's a different story).  There is a simple reason to all this.  Chinese is a phonetic language with fewer words than most others.  To compensate, there are four (Cough Cough!) different tones.  The same word pronounced with a different tone is something completely different.  As laziness made its way into the language everything is pronounced rapidly and without much effort on the intonation.  The sentence is most of the time understood thanks to the context.  Back to our #4.  Pronounced "si", besides meaning 4, it means death.  The pronunciation of 14 also means "go die".  

A bit creepy but not worth avoiding the number...

 Uhhh, I'm starting to feel itchy-dizzy.  Perhaps the #4 is striking me. 

Disclaimer: No offence intended to the Chinese people throughout this post, who have welcomed and always greeted me kindly.  To be read with a teensy weensy bit of sarcasm. 

Chinese restaurants or the joy of a random pick

Day 1