Excerpt from Chapter 16
Thirty-Six of who knows how many boys who needed housing, found themselves living as my neighbors in three apartments on my floor and for the next few months my life and my apartment turned into the 'Do Drop Inn'. My life changed so much because of my new neighbors that I eventually published an article titled "My 36 Neighbors in Wuhan" in which I described something of that experience. Half that article however was devoted to discussing various other experiences a foreigner can have in China, particularly those involving the 'stuck up foreigners' kind of experience.
With regard to the boys who became my neighbors I should firstly point out that none of them were ever my students. English was not their major. Like so many students in China whose English is extremely poor, they assumed that the foreigner, if he could speak Chinese at all, would also not be very good at it. Furthermore I know from experience that many students will not use standard Mandarin around a foreigner because they think that the local dialect or dialectic pronunciation will be beyond the foreigner's ability to understand. But as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not normal.
.........One day I was in my underwear washing dishes when a group of boys walked past the window. I looked up and nodded to them. They nodded and then began to make the sort of comments that Chinese boys would automatically do seeing a foreigner in his underwear. I burst out laughing at one comment and in a loud voice said: "Do you want to come back and take a closer look?" Suddenly they were all at my window wanting to know if I could really speak Chinese. This was our introduction to each other. Over the course of the next two weeks they kept stopping to talk to me through the bars on the kitchen window, or else would call out to see if I was home.
One day after talking with a boy for quite some time through the window, I asked if he wanted to come in. I opened the huge metal door and we stood in the kitchen talking. While we were talking, passing individuals noting that my door was open entered and began to look around.
When I heard the television I knew precisely what they were doing. When I finally went to check on them, I found a total of 6 boys lying on my bed watching the TV. As a westerner you might find this strange but I had already learned my lesson well in Hong Hu, about what happens when you leave your front door open in China.
.........I eventually told the boys that when it was convenient for me to receive visitors, that I would open and chain back the heavy metal door. The boys came to understand that if they engaged me in conversation through the kitchen window it meant that I was happy to talk for a moment but that I didn't want visitors. One night I had the door open and was working on the computer in the lounge room when a voice whispered, 'Is it OK if I watch TV?' I turned, saw who it was and said that would be fine. At one point I got up to go make a coffee and when I looked into the bedroom there were 11 students on my bed watching TV. One had asked and ten others entered without me even noticing. As for how they all fitted, that's an easy one to answer. Chinese are tactile people who haven't yet learned to become uptight and suspicious when someone enters their personal space or actually touches them. Eleven bodies on the bed fitted anyhow they could - limbs akimbo.
Because space does not permit me to recount all the events, conversations and funny incidences that occurred in my apartment or theirs, I won't regale you with a litany of hilarious events. I also imagine that if I were to recount some of those things there would be quite a few people object or find certain behaviors disgusting. I find it interesting how in our non-discriminating multicultural PC world we can find so many things objectionable, based solely on our home grown culturally based worldviews. My neighbors were a great bunch of guys whose behavior was normal for Chinese boys their age. Growing up without exposure to the sorts of things to which western children are constantly exposed, put the boys on the same level of social awareness as western 12 year olds, or so it seemed to me. They were carefree, innocent, uninhibited, talkative pranksters who took over my apartment when I let them, and made themselves at home. For me it was rather like being a grandparent - glad to see the kiddies arrive and thankful to see them go.
Chinese kids, no matter how we might compare them with western kids, are not western.
...........When I arrived in Suzhou, I found myself in a situation where the school did everything above board and treated the students well, but exactly one half of my students came from wealthier families, and did not give a rat's ass about anything other than wasting their time while waiting for whatever certificate was due them. But I stress - 'exactly half of my students'.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: November 2014
- As mentioned on the Chapters as Published: Finding Myself in China page, the original contents of these pages has been removed leaving an excerpt. Chapter numbers as they appear at Magic City are no longer correct within the current draft of the book. There has also been a lot of editing in the areas of grammar, additional stories and rewording of stories. Nevertheless I hope you have enjoyed what you have seen and will consider buying the book when it becomes available.
Writers Journal Kingscalendar
2013 Social Commentary Articles
The Dysfunction in the Religion of Peace by R.P. BenDedek
By R.P. BenDedek
September 28, 2013
Muslim belief is that ultimately everything is Allah's will. Whether they approve or disapprove of the Kenyan massacres is irrelevant. It is Allah's will! Whether ordinary Muslims approve or disapprove of those terrorists is irrelevant. It is Allah's will! Whatever a Muslim may say with his lips, his true meaning is hidden in the back of his mind. It is Allah's will! Every Muslim, like every other true believer in every other religion, dreams of seeing the world converted to their god. For the Muslim therefore, every action that leads to the defeat or conversion of the infidel must be Allah's will.
Giving the Finger to Comrade GOOGLE's brand of Communism
By Comrade R.P. BenDedek
August 26, 2013
I have come to the decision that the only thing I can do is take a page out of Comrade Google's 'Little Red Book' and say: 'Screw You!' Comrade Google didn't like the way the Communist Government of China kept changing the rules. Comrade Google would not submit to a 'totalitarian authority'. Comrade Google decided to pull up stakes and leave. Is there a lesson to be learned in that?
Learning to Hate The U.S.A.
by R.P. BenDedek
August 11, 2013
American Education is actively turning young Americans into terrorists. The speaker is Brigitte Gabriel (pseudonym), a Lebanese American journalist, author, and activist. Within the video she produces documents which purport that despite so called separation of State and Church, Islam is being introduced to school children at school, and via injection of big dollars into universities all over the USA, Students are being taught to hate the USA.
R.P.BenDedek (pseudonym) is the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (http://www.kingscalendar.com ), and is a guest columnist and stand-in Editor at Magic City Morning Star News. He is also the Editor of the 'Writers Journal' at Kingscalendar.com. An Australian, he has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003.
Writers Journal Kingscalendar
"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls