Tag Archives: dogs

The Dogs of Autumn

I have been forced to make a post about dogs. With the increasing middle-class in China, a newfound affluence has begun to change the attitudes towards dogs in China and more and more I see proud owners showcasing their companions. The one-child policy and disposable income means many Chinese are becoming dog lovers like the West, and America in particular, with parents dropping their one kid off to English lessons while they take their dog to the park. For the dogs it is pure kismet, a confluence of disposable income and a one-child policy that means a fortuitous turn of events from their past, because while beloved in the West, pets were long considered a bourgeoisie excess and a symbol of bête noire capitalist frivolity.

Well, times are changing. In celebration of our four-legged friends, I've put together a panoply of dogs large and small. I have not included the feral street dogs that languish along the food streets and down alleyways because I did not want to get close enough to get a good pic with my iPod. The pack here is just the dogs that I've seen in the past two days, I don't know if it is the pleasant weather or because of National Day, but either way the dogs have been on full display.

Here is my coffeeshop dog, grown up a little bit.

 

If you remember, she was a little thinner a few months ago.

As always, her sidekick is on patrol.

 

My Korean store now has a puppy:

Sleeping next to her tennis ball and an Angry Bird to keep her safe.

A smart vet decided to open a new shop in the neighborhood.

 

Here is a nice anonymous women resting in her storefront:

Better than a car alarm:

This Golden Retriever was beautiful. About 9 months and acted like it.

 

Not to exclude other animals, I spotted these two chickens wandering outside my apartment. This is China after all. They won't last long I'm afraid.

There are a lot more dogs around, I just chose the few that I had an easy opportunity to take pictures of. I tried to take some pictures at night, but with the flash off the “shutter speed” on the iPod is too slow and the pictures are blurry. I didn't want to blind everybody with my flash. Oh well.

iPad Breakdown

I haven’t posted in a while because I haven’t been able to. When I updated my iPad to the iOS8 I lost my ability to use my VPN because it was incompatible with the new operating system. In short, I was unable to get through The Great Firewall of China. This is just going to be a short post to see if Blogsy, the blogging app I use, works since the update. Everything has been really functioning poorly or not at all. However, I didn’t update my iPod until I was sure the iPad ran smoothly, which it didn’t. Everything seems to be straightened out now, which is a relief, for the past couple weeks I’ve been using my iPod exclusively.

This week is National Day, China’s 4th of July. My apartment entrance is rather patriotic. The security was intense for everybody.

I think the big celebrations will be tomorrow, Saturday, and I expect to have a lot of images. Like I said, this is just a test post to see if everything is up and running. Everybody has dogs lately, so I’m going to try to make a collection of all the pets. I say pets because there are a lot of street dogs I don’t want to get close to. Below these two are relaxing on the porch/street/store front for National Day.

I should post National Day pics Sunday.

 

New Schedule and Streetviews

We started a new summer schedule here at Shane School tailored to take advantage of the eight weeks off for summer vacation the kids get here in China. I had a bit of trepidation in anticipation of the condensed schedule, with more class time and larger classes, which made the run-up to the start of the sessions the most stressful time here since I first started. However, if the first day is any sort of guide, my concerns were misplaced.

These courses are a pair of 3 week semesters, with a 5 day break in between. They consist of three 40 minute sessions with a 10 minute break between in the morning, followed by the same format in the afternoon, with the day finishing off with my usual preschoolers in the evening. These are MHF, then a normal weekend schedule, which means full days. It seems like a lot, but the new courses replace normal weekday courses and they all come with lesson plans and supplementary materials which makes preparation a whole lot easier. Lesson planning is one aspect of work that truly is work, it's tedious and boring, but also essential. My afternoon summer course is my largest class, about 20 kids in all, about twelve years old I would guess. That's a lot of kids to manage when they don't speak much English and I don't speak any Chinese, but a lot of stuff I do is in teams with a scoring sytem, so the threat and implementation of point reduction is a good way to get the kids to discipline themselves. If a student continues to act up it could cost the whole team, and they are all pretty competitive. Everything went smoothly for it all being my leadoff day with new classes and curriculum.

Some of my favorite foods back home are blueberries and strawberries, salmon, fajitas and pretty much any good dairy, with cheese and milk particular favorites. Well, I can't really get any of that here, so I've been trying to make due with what I can source nearby. There are plenty of dried grains such as rice and oats, as well as dried beans and lentils. Well, I'm not an inveterate consumer of rice, oats, beans or lentils; I really haven't found a way to cook them well and they aren't very exciting. Let me rephrase that. I can cook them correctly, I just haven't found a way to turn them into really enjoyable dishes with the ingredients I have here. I had to search for thirty minutes to find a sealed package of what looks like and I hope are bay leaves. They don't smell like bay leaves as I opened them at home. We'll see how it turns out, I'm making a big pot of pork and beans. Oh well, they do have good squash and purple sweet potatoes, two of my favorite foods.

Just to give you some bearings on what and where you see things, I walk out of my apartment complex gates and face a divided four lane road, bordered with bike lanes and sidewalks, spaced by grass and trees as the median. It's called Changjiang Road, for the purpose of this blog I'll call it Main Street. Across Main Street is the open area where the community dances, sings, trades and gets together in the evenings. Beyond that is a walking mall. More on that later. On my side of Main Street, if I turn left, my school is about fifty yards. If I turn right, I pass the fruit stand, the Korean grocery, several hair salons, new & second hand clothes stores and my coffeeshop. Then in about a 1/4 mile I turn right onto the “Food Street” (Xinguang Road), and about a mile down that road is the shopping center with Carrefour's, the edge of New Business District with larger buildings and what not and some more restaurants.

All the restaurants are pretty much the same, presumably because of the lack of economical, diverse, quality ingredients. If I get food to go I usually buy noodles with meat & veggies at the Muslim owned restaurants/shops, which are the best places in my opinion to buy street food. They have little signs outside (forced or voluntary?) that denote the ownership is Muslim and the food is Halal, which is akin to Kosher and said to be much cleaner than regular street food. The Muslims and Koreans are by far the friendliest store owners, welcoming and kind, so I try my best to shop at their establishments when possible. Perhaps it's simply my perception, but the local Chinese I interact with as cashiers or employees often appear rude and dismissive to Laowai.

The area behind my apartment running along Food Street, behind the restaurants, is a neighborhood for working class (really poor by Western standards) Chinese; vendors, construction laborors and service workers. The scene presented is a blend of shanties, crowded one story apartments, stalls selling everything from exposed meat to industrial chemicals, low hanging power lines, naked & dirty children in the streets…you get the picture.

I took some pictures today. Here is a video to give you an idea of the traffic on the corner of my block at about 6:30 PM. This is the corner of Main Street and Food Street, my side of both. I turn right here to the supermarket. Busy and cacophonous. Everybody honks the horn on their electric moped because the motors are silent, and the honk let's pedestrians know they are coming up on them. Very annoying.

The calm before dinner rush.

Prepping:

Think this would pass the health inspector? Notice the guy cleaning the crawfish in the background with the China tap water in back.

A little cigarette ash gives the grilled mystery meat that authentic Chinese aftertaste. It seems like every man smokes. You can smell it in stores, elevators and restrooms because there are no rules against smoking inside establishments, it must be what it was like in the States before no smoking rules went into effect. I have to say I like no smoking rules.

Typical side street.

Here is a video of the neighborhood next to Food Street, directly behind my complex. I wasn't at all scared, even though everybody stares in one of three ways: amusement, conviviality or resentment. With that said, I wouldn't walk through at night. It's palpable that some of these working class Chinese, with limited access to the outside world, see me and an undefined malice swells up. I can see it intensely in the eyes of the younger men. Certainly a small minority, but present. The kind of fear of the State that doesn't exist in the West keeps violence here minimized, I do wonder for how long. Envy coupled with impotence to State power is always a powder keg.

Not exactly The Grand Canal. You would probably die on contact. I doubt that 24' white PVC pipe running along the embankment pipes in Evian spring water.

On my way out of the neighborhood, opening up to shopping and dining.

The juxtaposition is stark, with high end shopping a hundred meters away. It occured to me most neighborhoods are very well defined in terms of economics and yet exist side by side, and they all have gated entrances coming in and out. The poor areas are gated but don't have security guards to keep people out and the gates are always open, so are they there to confine people in case of emergency?

Look what I found. Two rays of Golden sunshine just outside the entrance/exit of the locals block. Goldens are the dog here. Smart folks, the Chinese dog owners. Somebody is showing off. The one Golden was a really good looking male.

OK. I've got my groceries, left the Mall/Carrefour's, it's getting dark now and you can see how the food street that runs to the Shopping has filled up.

 

I dropped of my groceries at my apartment and decided to take some pics of the walking mall past the dancing and such across the street.

This is the walking mall once you get past everybody dancing/exercising. Not much quality shopping, but that's typical. I'm not sure you can make it out, but most of the second story neon signs and some on the first floor are massage parlors, the kind that don't just give massages, right here within a stones throw and sightline of kids singing. I didn't want to make my filming of the massage parlors obvious, so the “Massage” signs may be tough to make out.

It's really weird. I had more than one strumpet offer a massage with a “happy ending”, which for me would have probably meant phenobarbital and a nap in the gutter, sans wallet. I would have taken a closer video, but I'm sure nobody would have appreciated it. Not the pimp, prostitute or the Japanese business men who flock to these establishments. How many malls in the States have massages and prostitution one level up from an Umbro apparel store.

One last video, this is directly across from my apartment facing my building, the walking mall is behind me. This is the area where families get together.

That's it for now, when the first five day break comes here in about three weeks I might go to either Nanjing or Shanghai with a couple co-workers just to sight see. Nothing is decided, everybody is waiting to see if we even want to go after the first three weeks of a condensed schedule, so I'll just have to play it by ear. Trains go most anywhere here and are really economical, so travel expenses should be relatively low.

If I have problems with the video links I'll have to put them in the next post. Sorry, I don't know how to fix video links yet once I post. I always cross my fingers when I hit the “Publish” button that the censors haven't crushed my video.

That's all for today.

 

 

Coffeshop

I stopped by the coffee-shop downstairs today for the inaugural patronage and tried the coffee. I got an Americano of course and it was absolutely blissful, all the while being joined by new friend who seems to be about an 8 month female, all Golden.

This was as comfortable and relaxed as I’ve felt the whole time, I could have been sitting on my own front porch. The shop has a wifi connection, zero English to be found of course, but everyone is nice and the clientele is definitely upper middle class. I had my drinking companion as well, although I haven’t got the name yet, I thought it would probably be bad form to ask the dog’s name before I knew anybody else’s. My coffee was 30 kwai, or about $5.50, pricy for China but a bargain in that the atmosphere truly does ameliorate the foreigness and gifted me a sense of the familiar. The brew had the crisp taste of clean, fresh coffee and the service and ambiance was nice.

As far as school, earlier today I graded the tests I gave this weekend and only had 2 out of 10 that clearly weren’t giving English their undivided attention.

This afternoon was very pleasant.