Saturday, December 29, 2007

Handsome Me

Every foreigner who has lived in China long enough has certainly been called handsome/beautiful at least once. When I first came here I was astounded by the number of Chinese people who were impressed by my good looks. But I soon realised that the phrase "You are handsome" is used too freuently in China. It is the polite thing to do. Just like it is polite to say, "You are so strong" [yea, they've told me that too...]
But it came as a pleasant surprise to me when I was at the dentist's one day and this young lady went up to the doc and told him that I looked handsome. She assumed that I didn't understand any chinese at all and so I was sure she was sincere, not just being polite. All my narcissistic feelings came rushing in and I actually smiled, or at least tried to, what with one of his wire cutters in my mouth. She then went on to explain how my eyes and nose were so good looking. I was about to thank her and assume an expression of innocent charm when she blurted out that all Indians looked the same to her. And since they all had big eyes and long noses they all looked beautiful. That brought me down to earth.
"Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder" is so true. For some people here we look beautiful ["your eyes... they seem to have so much depth"] for some, plain ugly ["you are so black!"]

China Diaries - Appointments

This is my fourth year in China and every once in a while I see something unique here. And hence the new category called "China Diaries"


The chinese are generally punctual as a rule. In fact, you shouldn't be surprised to find your faithful Chinese friend waiting for you half an hour before the appointed time. But the strange thing is that the Chinese don't seem to have been able to grasp on to the concept of appointments... at least my dentist hasn't. Every time I have to see that guy, which is usually once or twice a month, I have to wait for at least half an hour for him to get around to me. Once, I was left waiting for an hour and a half!
This is what generally happens :
D : Come back next thursday.
S : Okay!
[Thursday 2:30pm, thats when they start work in the afternoon]
D : [with his hands deep in someone's mouth] Deng yixiar (the exact translation of which is "wait a moment")
[After a 'moment' that stretches to 3:30pm] Come sit down. Let me have a look....

If they value time, why waste it?? If they don't, why show up so early??

Using 'bad' language - 2

"This must mean I'm disgusting
But it's just me I'm just obscene"
- Eminem, in Without Me

[After my blog titled "Using bad language" I thought of doing a follow up of that topic to try and answer some of the questions. It should be obvious to you that as this is a blog about foul language, its use here would be a foregone conclusion; especially because I would like to present both sides of the argument. And as I do not use/do not like to use/do not pretend to like to use foul language, I just have to say that if it does indeed disturb you, please do not continue reading]

I'm not generally inclined towards rap but I like Eminem. His lyrics can be funny or thought-provoking but more importantly they are powerful. And why? Because as he raps in The Real Slim Shady,
"I'm like a head trip to listen to
cause I'm only givin you things you joke about with your friends inside you livin' room
the only difference is, I got the balls to say it in front of ya'll
and I aint gotta be false or sugar coated at all
I just get on the mic and spit it..."
And of course with this comes the use of foul language. One of my favourite Eminem songs is "Stan". I once heard its clean version and it seemed to lack the punch. [Maybe its better to have a censored song than none at all... the Wal-mart version of Nirvana's "Rape Me" is "Waif me"]

But my point is that using "cuss" words does add more emphasis to what people say. Plus all the "exclamation phrases" seem much more whole hearted.
Some people have gotten around this by using words like "fricking", "shyte" etc. leaving no doubt in the mind of the listener what is intended. They add emphasis without using the actual words. Can this be categorised as use of 'bad' language? They afterall do mean to convey the same meaning. And if people do not have any problems with this, then why should they have problems with the actual words?
Do we now need a new set of "exclamation phrases"? [heh I know thats going too far :)]
But still... think about it.


"Tops on these tips are the quips of wise lips"

Sometimes I just make up "wise-sayings" or proverbs if you want to call it that. I'm adding them to the "Poetry?" label because i an't think of anything fancier at the moment. To me they seem very original but it is quite probable and possible that they are modified/personalised form of existing sayings. If you think so, please do send me your comments.

"I hate photos. They destroy the illusions I have about myself"

Poetry? - The Beginning

Life In A Dream

Oh to be affected by the trivial
To be left alone by the profound
That is to live life in a dream

To be torn in ways that cannot be sewn
To be scarred in ways that cannot be seen
That is to live life in a dream

To feel warm in winter
To feel cold in summer
That is to live life in a dream

To be lost in broad market sqaures
To find yourself in the eyes of another
That is to wake up from a dream


I decided I should categorise my blogs in some way and I thought of using labels. These are the ones I would be using
1. TaiYang - this would include the experiences in my day-to-day life
2. Diaries - this is the label under which I will have blogs of my personal opinions on the things I see around me
3. Discussion Board- anything I might rant about :)
4. Poetry? - once in a blue moon I get inspired but its not really poetry... hence the question mark. This would also include the random 'wise sayings' that pop into my head
5. Misc

I plan to add more labels in the future as I blog more.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Official Version 11/4

Yesterday there was a 'meeting' of the overseas students [read Indian & Nepali students] and the University administration [represented by the Dep.Dir of FAO]
If you are not familiar with these Chinese 'meeting's let me tell you what happens there. Everyone called there just sits and listens to a speech or two by some Chinese officials in chinese [with some sort of english translation] and then the meeting is adjourned. This explanation was for the benefit of anyone who had the misconception that 'meeting' meant something like a round-table discussion.

Well the purpose of the meeting was to let us know the result of the police investigation into the Indo-Nepal fight plus of course, dropping some hints as to what the University was going to do about it.

And here below is the Official version of the Events of the 11/4 Fight [the official name of the incident]
Some of it was lost in translation [principally because the translator didn't do a good job] So, what I give you here is a more brief/personalised account... but official nonetheless.

"The incident can be divided into two.
The first part occured on Firday when 5 drunk Nepali students returned to the dormitory late at night. At about 1:00 am Saturday, 2 of these boys whose room is in the 5th floor went up there and quarelled between themselves. They also disturbed the Indians living there and used bad language against them. The Indians in turn used violence. This caused one Nepali boy to jump down the stairs and hurt his left leg.
Later [about 3-4 am] the Nepali boys from the first floor went up to the fifth floor and demanded to know why this boy was beaten up. They also accused 3 Indian boys as being prinicipally involved.
The next day one of the three mentioned above, went to a certain room in the first floor and proposed a compromise talk. [I couldn't really understand the official version of how all three of the Indian boys came to be in the first floor later on... but thats what happened] And the three boys got beaten up. One of them suffered an injury to his head. It shall be classified as a minor injury.

The second part of the incident occured the next night [Sunday night, Nov 4]. The Nepalis of the first floor heard/thought they heard [again the translation was not clear], the shouts of some Nepali boys from upstairs. They rushed upstairs armed with sticks, beer bottles and other things and started fighting with the Indian boys. During this time, 4 Indian students returning to the dormitory were attacked without any reason by four Nepali boys running out of the dormitory building. This unprovoked attack lead to a head injury to an Indian boy who needed 28 stitches on his scalp. This shall be classified as a minor injury [here the translator appreared to laugh]
Photos of this injury were sent by mobile phones to the Indians in the dorm which made them angry. The angry Indians then went on to break almost everything in the rooms occupied by the Nepali boys."

The university also told us that the loss they suffered added up to 68,000 yuan. I for one don't really believe that estimate but that is the money we have to pay the university as compensation.
The university also told us that there were 16 students principally involved in the incident [7 Indians & 9 Nepalis] and that 44 students were directly involved [24 Indians & 20 Nepalis]. But they refused to release the names... we don't even know if they mean that a total of 60 students have been implicated or if its actually just 44 students with the 16 being included in that list.

Of course the place is rife with speculations and rumours of the punishments facing everyone... but that cannot be a part of this official version, can it?

Yay for the visa!

Finally got my new visa yesterday and I'm all up-to-date on the passport thing. Getting everything done was quite a bit of work.
After officially losing my passport on Nov 4, 2007 I went with Gary [of the Teaching Dept] to the local police station of SanXia university to get a letter detailing the loss. And off I went to the Entry-Exit section of the Yichang PSB to get a "Certificate reporting loss of Passport". Armed with this document, copies of my old passport, a 4 page form and 4 photos, I left for the Indian Embassy in Beijing. Fortunately Tajik [my classmate... we go back to the 'Zephyr' repeaters era :)] had a friend in Beijing. David [DaiHui] a native of Yichang, is the 'co-boss' of a software company there. Stayed with him and got the job done at the embassy... inspite of a laminating machine malfunction.
I got back and Libby [of the FAO] furnished me with the documents required for my visa application. First I had to get my Health examination done at the 'Infectious Disease Centre, Yichang'. After a week's wait they decided that I wasn't infected with anything too contagious and with their approval letter I went to the PSB again to apply for my new visa.
Now my shiny new passport has a nice visa stamped on it... it all looks so beautiful :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bans :/

Its really hard in here behind the Great FireWall of China. They've banned xanga, I can't visit my own blog here, and Wikipedia is out of bounds too. They should probably just block Google and Yahoo too, simply out of spite.
The biggest problem now is that my local friends cannot visit my blog... or vote on my poll... *sigh*

Proxy servers are generally slow... and a lot of them are banned in China anyway [what did you expect?] Unfortunately China's policy of Free Speech doesn't extend to its citizens.

The only good thing right now is that at least I can post in blogger [and get a preview of what my page looks like] For everything else I have to use web proxies... and fortunately I've been able to find a decent working site. Not sure how long it will work though.

Sitting down here among the chinese students who spend a large part of their free time online, I wonder why so many websites are banned. One explanation would be that the 'leaders' want to shield these 'young ones' from international view points. Or is it the other way around... because the 'leaders' don't want the international public to read the chinese viewpoint? Or the 'leaders' want to keep tabs on what the chinese are talking about, which they might be able to do with chinese websites like QQ?
Anyway, we feel bad when popular websites are banned. We say that Free Speech is important. That real freedom comes only when you can choose for yourself who you want to listen to. Does that mean we are against banning of websites? In India some Pakistani websites are banned because they have been deemed 'detrimental to national unity and security'. In Orkut a group/community was banned after almost all Indian orkut users voted against it [by hitting the report abuse link]. Even a court in India got involved. It was an anti-India group with a burning Indian flag as its profile picture. And yes I will say, the banning of the group was justified. And yes I measure it with Indian standards.
Would that mean that when measured by chinese standards, banning of Wikipedia is justified?
"Of course not" might be the first thought in your minds. But then Wikipedia is not exactly accurate. Why? Because everything in it is written by 'normal' people. It works on the principle that people who know will not let lies to be spread [again, sorry for not being able to remember the exact words] But it is quite possible that you might get the wrong information from it... esp. on matters which are not very... 'popular'. So think about it. Is the banning of Wikipedia in China justified?

Whether or not... it remains banned.

And I don't like bans

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The song stuck in my head

Since I am in China and I don't get to watch MTV or Vh1 or any other music channel which usually tells me if there is anything new on the popular music scene, I now download random songs using Limewire. Soundtracks are usually pleasant songs and so a while back, I did a category search on them and "Overkill" by Colin Hay was top of the list [soundtrack from Scrubs] Its been stuck in my head since then and at odd moments of my daily life I burst out with "I can't get to sleep!! I think about the implications... of diving in. tooo deeep..." A couple of my friends have already expressed their concern over this seemingly harmless thing. I didn't expect this song to last so long especially as its Christmas season, which for me, signifies a wonderful season of songs.

And now I oscillate between "Overkill" and "O Holy Night", not to mention my ugre to shout out "...hang a shining star upon the highest bough.." everytime someone mentions carols.

Oh the people around me, I feel sorry for you.


[A Dictionary entry]

A-ranting n. the process of ranting. Generally associated with people who mean no harm but may be sarcastically inclined. usage. has a positive connotation [merry-making]
history. made popular by the hit song "I'm a-goin' a-rantin' ey-oh" sung to the tune of "Shippin' up to Boston" by 'The Dropkick Murphys'

:y symbol. a popular internet smiley called the 'sheepish grin' smiley.

#$%^&*!~@ symbol. notations available universally on keyboards. used instead of foul language in polite internet conversation inc. emails, blogs etc.

Grabbing n. the process by which a person attempts to keep only the good qualities of his personality(-ties) while leaving out the rest.

My ing'lish ise very poor phrase. If perfectly executed it means "Leave me alone!"

Sooraj proper n. A name hard to pronounce in this part of the world.
A telephone conversation.
C: What is your name?
S: Sooraj
C: I know you are student. What is your name?
S: [slowly] name is Sooraj.
C: [angry] are you making joke?
S: ^%#^@

Are We Destroying the Earth?

[A conversation]

Its in the news, all the intelligent men of our times are worried about it, the environmentalists are losing sleep over it, people around the world are wired up.... the earth is dying! "Save our planet" is the slogan, "we have only one home".....WHAT??????Can we REaLLy destroy the earth? is it PoSSibLe??Am I implying that all the brains in the world, the majority of the people... are all stupid?



Because we cannot destroy the earth, not yet, at least not with the technology I know of.... maybe the US military has something up its sleeve... but other than that I highly doubt it.

But then what about a World War? Surely that will be the end of mankind!


??? MAke up your mind!!! You say we can't destroy the earth.... and now you say that mankind will end... #%^$%@

Thats where you are wrong my friend. We are fully capable of destroying ourselves. But not the earth. What part of earth's history do men cover buddy? Do you know? To put things in perpective for you, consider the entire history of earth as 24 hrs. You know how much man takes up?

12 hrs? 6 hrs? one hour at least?

heh.... less than a minute. The earth has been... and will be.... as far as man is concerned... but in the cosmos... earth's life is very short and will end soon.... but that wont be for some millions of years when the sun starts to burn out...You remember all those movies when meteorites hit earth and brings up the ice age? Even through that the earth will survive... if we can build something far more powerful than that.. we might have a chance to destroy earth

You dummy!! the life on earth will be destroyed! thats what everyone talks about when they say the earth will be destroyed!

Nope, life will survive... because it has survived worse and it will endure for some time to come... even if all humans are destroyed...and I want all the dumb people of the world to realise that. They still think... "Oh I'm doing a good thing... I'm saving the world... I use recycled paper... I dispose off batteries carefully, because I care for the earth... I am a good citizen" FOOLS!!!! They don't realise that they are trying to save themselves, but still they maintain the attitude of feigned benevolence

What about the clever people then?


You said you want the dumb people to realise....

Oh, the clever already know

yea right... you self important @#%$@!

What did you say?


.... whatever...

Using 'bad' language

Does 'bad or 'foul' language bother you? Should it bother you? Is it 'wrong' to 'cuss'? Is it 'wrong' if it does not bother you?

Well, almost everyone around me curses. One way or the other. The words themselves range from funny name calling to potentially serious verbal abuse of family members. So why do people tolerate it? It has become so common that it has become part of common language. Thats how friends address each other now. But still respect to elders demands that we don't use these words while addressing older people. But that dosen't prevent people from using them behind their backs.
So is it a serious crime?
Once you are used to it you no longer feel anything is wrong. Maybe thats why Mel Gibson got into so much trouble.
This topic will be open for discussion for some time to come....

Blog Imports...

I thought I'd import some stuff from my previous attempt at blogging... which I had to forego because of internet difficulties.

Last month

What could be more interesting to write about than last month?
It was an action packed November [a month whose effects will be felt for some time...] Its strange when I look back and take in all that happened.
There are so many things that I should just list them...
The big Indo-Nepal fight of course was the biggest event. It will be a while before it all settles down now.
I lost my passport of 9 years. Got a new one after a visit to Beijing... a visit I had to postpone a bit because I missed my train the first time for the first time. I had to get my "health examination" done and hopefully I'll have my passport and visa safe with me by the end of next week.
The Avengers [my cricket team and the reigning champions for three years] lost out for the first time in a tournament... in fact, we didn't even make it to the knockout stage.
Oh the exam results!
And quite a few more.....

But in the midst of it all a lot of good things happened and I quote He "moves in mysterious ways" [Thanks U2 ;)]

And throughout this month I've had "Overkill" stuck in my head... "I can't get to sleep, I think about the implications..." but no, sleep hasn't been a problem ;)

I'm looking forward to Christmas now... and january when I'll go home, my first 'Indian Jan' in 4 years.

Home is where the heart is.