February 23, 2008

I Have an Aunt

So, I'm about to head out to go ice-skating, except I'm worried they will not have skates for my giant American feet, haha. My friend humorously described this lack of inventory as an "untapped market", which made me laugh. You will not be surprised to learn that she works in PR :-) But I'm on my way out the door, so we'll see if they can dig up a special pair just for me.

I spent the afternoon today shopping at Carrefour for cleaning supplies. Not for me, mind you - but for my aiyi. Literally this word means "aunt" (Hi out there!) but colloquially it refers to a maid. Yes, that's right - after almost 2 months here I am breaking down and hiring a maid. I resisted for so long because, well, I am used to cleaning (however infrequently and half-assedly) myself. And I don't like the idea of paying someone to do something that I can easily do myself. I guess it makes me feel, too, what's-the-word -- bourgeoisie. (Icky.) But the dust is piling up and I'd rather spend my time sightseeing (and ice skating), and Tim recommended his aiyi who he and his wife have employed for over two years. So I hopped on the spoiled-expat bandwagon. I'm mitigating this feeling by still doing my own laundry and food gathering/cooking. It's just the scuzzy floors that will get a cleaning. She's coming tomorrow at 1 or 2 PM.

For whatever reason, the mop/broom aisle in Carrefour is the home turf of like 6 different salespeople who all try to push (pun totally intended) brooms on you the moment you step in the aisle. Nowhere else in the store has anyone else tried to offer my something. But there's like 2 - 3 people giving broom/mop demos in this particular aisle. Even when I clearly had a broom and mop in my cart already, they were still trying to hawk their merchandise, haha. I have no idea what's going on there or why that aisle is so popular with the type-A employees.

So I regaled you all in the past with the tale of my heating units and how I wasn't sure I was using them effectively. Turns out I was right. After several weeks of procrastination I brought the units' remote control into work and asked my boss to read the labels for me. I discovered I'd had the unit on "Automatic" instead of a specific "Heater" mode. Also I now can use the high-powered mode and have the fan blades oscillate to heat an entire room better. Coupled with the slight rise in temperature (I think it was 8 - 9 degrees out today) I'm feeling a bit toastier. Asking my boss to read the labels on my remote control brings me back to that embarrassing feeling where I know what I want but don't know how to say / ask for it, haha. But I swallowed my pride and it turned out to be a good thing (as I would imagine usually is the case) :-)

I've been eating some badass food, too. On both Thursday and Friday nights I had food from Guizhou province. The food is spicy, but not nearly as spicy as Sichuan or Hunan food. They have some interesting dishes too, including worms, bees (yes, bees!), dog meat (perpetuating a stereotype), and steamed turtles. I have to admit, I'm really curious to see what a meal consisting of bees and turtles will taste like. I'll let you all know what I find out, and of course I'll bring my camera along for the ride :-)

I also saw one description on the menu that was heavy on the Chinglish - apparently the dish contained "Jew's ear." I saw that and was like fuck, I'm getting out of here, ya'll aren't taking my ears!!

Tonight I go for the hat trick as, after ice skating (if I can indeed do that) we're going to a Hunan place. No rest for my tongue :-)

Small anecdote: I was discussing Chinese and American leaders today with my tutor, where I found out the Chinese refer to Dubya as "Bushi", which, when said out loud, sounds pretty close to how you would say "is not" in actual Chinese. I liked that. And she taught me how to say "Clinton," and then she said another name starting with an L. And I was like, "Hillary," naturally assuming that she would be the woman most closely associated with Bill. But Joyce (my tutor) was like "No, not Hillary, not his wife -- [this other woman] can't be president." I literally had no idea who she was talking about, so I kept saying "I really think you mean Hillary" and just assumed Joyce was mistaken.

But it turned out she was trying to say "Lewinsky"!! I cracked up for a couple seconds there, just because, you know, I don't think most Americans think about that incident anymore, but apparently that's not the case overseas. Oh, the legacies we weave without even thinking about it . . .


auntilene said...

Hi from this aunt who is definitely NOT a housekeeping expert :-).
aunt i.

leia said...

Hey! I haven't been reading you, but hopefully you've already heard and discussed the whole "USA will be bringing all their own food to the Olympic Games in China because they don't trust the local food" thing, that made me happy for you :-)

Also, I just remembered that one time at some party (Buzz, if I'm not mistaken, or possibly something else at Nation?) where we happened to watch, silently, the best film ever made: Breakin. That's the real reason for this comment--to remind you of that super-happy day. Hope all's well!!