Sunday, February 20, 2005

the number of students in the classes that i taught during 2004 were usually around 50 - 60. This was in both middle schools and the colleges that i taught in, it made it difficult to give very much attention to each student - ofcourse i had some assistance from some of the teachers - in the middle schools - they were usually in the class to "translate" when needed - this teacher at Shantou Number One Middle School was one of the best that i came into contact with her name is Zhou - I knew her as Helen Zhou, she was always happy to provide ant help that I may have needed and she seemed to enjoy the 'style' of my classes.
photo. mhobbs

Saturday, February 12, 2005

whilst riding my bike home from the "supermarket" on a hot afternoon - this wall caught my eye - it was one of the few times that id seen graffitti in China - I'm not sure whether it was suggesting that a passerby should call this number or if it was just a not so discreat way of advertising some "illicit" activity, whatever the meaning i like the red paint on the wall
photo. mhobbs

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Chun Jie Kuai Le! -
happy spring festival!
photo. mhobbs

Sunday, February 06, 2005

when I arrived at the school - in Shantou - southern china - the students of the middle school were assembled onto the football field to welcome me - I was introduced as "the new teacher from Australia" a cheer went up among the students - a loud cheer - !
photo. mhobbs

division of labour - in china - as is the case in most developing countries - there exists no division of labour between the sexes - I was facinated to watch - in an otherwise divided society - this woman - who was obviously giving orders - to the male workers.
photo. mhobbs

the apartments on the horizon - in Shantou (Southern China) were the form of the landscape where ever anyone looks more and more are being built - (usually by labour that is imported from a poorer Province) The apartments seem to be the identical to each other - Stamped from the same cookie cutter. All lined up with no imagination and no thought of what destructive effect this has on the environment.

photo. mhobbs.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

most mornings the students do 'eye exercises' - these were introduced by "Moa" - during the so-called Cultural Revolution, - after 'prodding' the face and blinking several times accompanied by music that would be more at place in a middle American ice-rink - the students are told (with some authority) to look out of the nearest window at something green, usually a tree. - (this apparently 'rests' the eyes) The only real problem with this is that because of "The Chairman's", extreme measures - there are very few actual green things outside! Most trees were either 'ripped out' and used as fuel or have been replaced by a high rise.

photo. mhobbs.

The Alarm sounded with its usual shriek - waking me from my dream
of soft kisses and gentle touches - I yelled @$#%* - !!!
I was going to be late again the third time this month and it was only the tenth!!
I leaped out of bed and rushed to the shower, stumbling on
the discarded pillows as I moved. -
My god another day like the last ten - HOT AND HUMID -

I couldn't expect anything less it was June.

I mumbled to myself for what seemed like the
thousandth time "welcome to China" - !!

I rushed down the stairs of my appartement, the sweat already
making my shirt stick to my back. Now outside, it was rainy;
I ran to the stop around the corner, promising myself as I ran
that I would stop smoking today. I usually caught the bus at 7 -
but now it was 7:20!! I needed to wait for only a few minites,
surprisingly, with almost no effort got a seat in the already
crowded bus. And what a seat it was ! My nose discovered by
the smell in the air that given this new environment,
my clothes were easily classifiable as clean.
These being rainy days, the feeling needs no exaggeration of
expression and was more than strong when I saw the people
around me : sweating by the struggle in the bus and tired by the
previous day but fresh for the morning. I at once realized how
I would be looking a few days from now, for I was a new
entrant in the community of those innumerable up-downers
who regularly traverse the route I was now taking.

There is a characteristic planned-ness about up-downers.
It inevitably shows up in their gestures, expressions and activities.
Some bear a grim look, with heavy eyelids and a frozen composition,
others glad to be alive, with knowing rye smiles.
The view of the buildings from glass and steel,
modern structures to the older concrete "pre-fabricated" low-rise type,
reflects the change in the landscape as we, my fellow travelers and
I move out of the city and into the outskirts, the clamor of other
travelers and the frequent vocal outbursts by hawkers,
the squeal of horns (at what seems every opportunity) -
nothing perturbs them.
The Journey, to them, has ceased to pose any attraction at all and
has become a forced boredom. Some board the bus in a
calm but quick manner, look upon people around them with an
air of indifference, and with the planned swiftness of the "routine" park
themselves or squeeze into a corner - Now the bus is packed tight -
I'm no longer a single occupant on my seat I am forced to share
with two others.They remain quiet and relatively still for a stop or two,
and then, to my utter surprise, talk to the next man as if they've
known each other for years ! . The man jammed next to me pointed
at my shoes (a fine pair or slip-on's) and I understood the indication
to take them off and put them, my bare feet close to fan.
Funny people we are, we are intolerant and arrogant only so
far as our immediate concerns are endangered by people exactly like us.
The same intolerance turns into an irresponsible lack of
concern when it comes to making efforts for solving problems
common to us. But that is another point. At this moment the
peculiar character boarded the bus...of which I now write.

The bus stopped at a jerk - Screeched the brakes.....
Two people left - Squeezing off - relieved it seemed to me,
that again they were safe on - "solid ground" and thanked
the "bus gods" , and silently, as in a well rehearsed pantomime,
moved off into the thickening crowds. He was a young man,
thin and of medium height, some hairs forming above
his upper lip, a reptilian jaw line which seemed all the more
pronounced from my point of perspective. His features bore a
funny look but the expression on them was serious.
As he came, he immediately grabbed a tiny space on a seat,
close to mine, and began looking around him, as if for air.
Then, finding a familiar face at the other end of the bus,
he stretched his lips to an artificial smile.
Then all of a sudden became serious again, and despite the
little space he had to settle his body in, he maneuvered to take
out a pocket-size, note book - He scribbled a couple of notes -
I wondered how busy this young man was to have the need to
make such an effort...and began to move the pages over, as if
looking for a note from a previous days journey.
His face changed synchronously with his activities and
when his eyes found the right page, his eyebrows too stretched
upon his vast forehead, solemnly rendering his face with the
seriousness of a scholar and authority upon the subject.

While in my mind I was admiring this fine anthropological
specimen, I was taken aback by the sudden yells of the person
squeezed "two bodies" away. It seemed that my bag had slipped,
due to the busses frantic stops and starts in the busy "rush-hour"
traffic and had landed on one of my fellow passengers bare feet,
leaving a large pink welt. A 'sorry', though all that was appropriate
in the circumstance and all that was possible with language,
was not enough to satisfy him and the mere act of the accident
sparked a vigorous conversation in the group sitting close-by
I could only imagine what the topic was - Ha!!! I could imagine!!
The expressions were not at all pleasant.... An old man on the
window seat, who till now had spoken nothing so much as a word to
anybody around him, found something of utmost interest and
importance in this conversation and drew out an anecdote from
his experiences of decades to the amusement of the others.
The conversation gained Newtonian momentum by this extraordinary
presentation and invited participation of two other travelers.

Sighing, I took the newspaper from my bag and began reading
an article on emerging technologies in the IT industry,
wondering as I read how I would explain why i was late......

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

bus - Xie Xie, hangzhou - SE China
photo - mhobbs

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

each afternoon - after lunch - which lasted for 3 hours - 11 am to 2pm - the students from the middle school - lined up - We (the teachers) "inspected" them - the uniformity was something that at first I found alittle confronting - Coming from Australia - I never experienced anything like this - !!!
photo - mhobbs

these kids in Shantou - (another city in southern china)
were the smartest kids in the class - 12 years old (zhu - forground)
and his younger brother - loved to "hang out" in the small store
that was their parents income generating haven.

photo - mhobbs

cold beer - hot fried dumplings and a good diping sauce
photo - mhobbs

the sun came streaming into the class room - like a white light that you get at the end of the day watching the tv in a darkened room. This lone wooden chair represents - - my last 12 months of teaching in the PRC. The day was hot another in a long line of hot humid days - I learnt to "enjoy" them. The fans were blasting in the room - a 'post revolution' - lecture hall - I was teaching - teacher - English in Yuan Yen a small city in SE China.
photo - mhobbs

tea! black tea - green tea - hot or cold - Ive learnt to love tea...........
photo - mhobbs

bikes in china - thats what we all think of i guess - Mao - bikes - and that "little red book" this was my bike in Hangzhou
photo - mhobbs

June 2004 - whilst sitting in the tranqual garden by the "west lake" Hangzhou. South Eastern P.R.C.
photo - mhobbs