Church in Big Farrin’ – Anancy Gyal Reporting from China

My dear Friends and Family:
What a day we have had! The threatened rain and cold didn’t carry over from last night) and we had a beautiful day! We went to church this morning with some of the Christian students. There must have been about 800 people in the Church (upstairs) because they have another service (mostly men-about 200) downstairs. I don’t know the reason for the “division”; but when I wanted to go downstairs (you know how me love stairs), they directed me, very politely but firmly, to go upstairs. They also had a Sunday school. And the Choir! -about 30 glorious voices, who sing mostly unaccompanied. They are just given their notes. and away they go. I knew many of the hymns, so I sang along, lustily, in English, of course .
The preacher was dynamic and seemed to have been very good, as people nodded and occasionally applauded. The students said that he was exhorting them to read the Scriptures every day and follow the example of St.John.

I don’t think that I will make this a“weekly pilgrimage”, as that’s what it was – 40 minutes taxi, walking, a beautiful train-ride, walking again (for about 15 minutes) avoiding, taxis, pedestrians and dog “poo”. Then the long trip back (Service was almost 2 hours).  When I got back to the school , I literally crashed -slept for a solid 6 hours. Now I am up,(at 1:00 a.m.) catching up with E-mails and the “9/11″ Memorial news, which remarkably, got full coverage on both the Australian and Singapore TV channels.

It’s now Monday 6:45a.m. ( 6:45p.m on Sunday, for you) and it’s a Holiday “Moon Festival” here (As you will remember). People visit each other and eat the traditional Moon Cakes (not my favorites) There is quite a story behind the festival.
Well it’s another day, and life goes on – More laundry, stewed pork (with potatoes and carrots) and rice .
I did treat myself to some “Starbucks” muffins (there seems to be a Starbucks on every block downtown ) and will have one with my newly arrived Mint teas  and some of my “doctored/ blended ” orange juice (it really taste good – almost like “ fresh squeezed”) – for Breakfast – NO “MOONCAKES”.
And mail does arrive – It goes slowly but surely – so keep it coming-                                                                                          Blessings & “Walk Good”

My dear Friends and Family:

What a day we have had! The threatened rain and cold didn’t carry over from last night) and we had a beautiful day! We went to church this morning with some of the Christian students. There must have been about 800 people in the Church (upstairs) because they have another service (mostly men-about 200) downstairs. I don’t know the reason for the “division”; but when I wanted to go downstairs (you know how me love stairs), they directed me, very politely but firmly, to go upstairs. They also had a Sunday school. And the Choir! -about 30 glorious voices, who sing mostly unaccompanied. They are just given their notes. and away they go. I knew many of the hymns, so I sang along, lustily, in English, of course01.

The preacher was dynamic and seemed to have been very good, as people nodded and occasionally applauded. The students said that he was exhorting them to read the Scriptures every day and follow the example of St.John.

 

I don’t think that I will make this a“weekly pilgrimage”, as that’s what it was – 40 minutes taxi, walking, a beautiful train-ride, walking again (for about 15 minutes) avoiding, taxis, pedestrians and dog “poo”. Then the long trip back (Service was almost 2 hours).  When I got back to the school , I literally crashed -slept for a solid 6 hours. Now I am up,(at 1:00 a.m.) catching up with E-mails and the “9/11″ Memorial news, which remarkably, got full coverage on both the Australian and Singapore TV channels.

 

It’s now Monday 6:45a.m. ( 6:45p.m on Sunday, for you) and it’s a Holiday “Moon Festival” here (As you will remember). People visit each other and eat the traditional Moon Cakes (not my favorites) There is quite a story behind the festival.

Well it’s another day, and life goes on – More laundry, stewed pork (with potatoes and carrots) and rice .

I did treat myself to some “Starbucks” muffins (there seems to be a Starbucks on every block downtown ) and will have one with my newly arrived Mint teas01 and some of my “doctored/ blended ” orange juice (it really taste good – almost like “ fresh squeezed”) – for Breakfast – NO “MOONCAKES”.                                                                                                                               

And mail does arrive – It goes slowly but surely – so keep it coming-                                                                                          Blessings & “Walk Good”                                                               

 

Laundry Day in Big Farrin – Anancy Gyal Reporting from China

Mi dear Friends & Fambly,
You ask me if I’m bored?  What name so? That word definitely does not exist in China (at least not in my vocabulary, as there are so many things to do and learn. Plus right now, I coulda get a job as a “high-class”  Domestic Engineer –everything  on schedule, and down to a “T” . Me wash – at night so me cyan hang de clothes fe dry, in the shower stall, do “light cleaning –no windows, Mam”  cook and iron. (Me even find some old fashioned  “bwile and draw starch” , after another session of miming with the Housekeeping staff) me finally know the word “dianfen”(a word I am not likely to forget).

Did I tell you that I am seriously studying the language? I engaged a tutor(one of the students –so we exist symbiotically, as I clarify and supplement her English. (even learning to write) . For it’s amazing, and rewarding,  to see the “light” that comes on, and the smile that erupts, when you can communicate in the language “mingbai ma?”/ understand?”
Well after the ironing (while the floor is still clean –just mopped.) I am going to cook. (The MSG is playing havoc wid me Blood pressure) and yes- I am making stewed pork, (with ginger) and rice. (Yesterday it was Rice and stewed pork, as the rice was more than the “salt kind”). Tomorrow?- who knows; the saga continues . Plus me learn at least 6 different ways to cook chicken and pork (in a skillet). So no mi dear- me no bored – me creative. An’ now, me tiahd.

Keep me informed   of  the “Yard News”, especially of the plans for the “50th”. Me really miss mi yard fe true.

Teck care, my love and “Walk Good’

 

This is CHINA and I Am Having the Time of My Life!

My dear Friends
We are doing it one day at a time -quite a challenge (most of the time) and hilarious too!

We have had a series of adventures – some really funny! Here’s one that will make you smile:

I went shopping, to purchase some cosmetics -hand lotion etc. which I had forgotten. Picked up “safe” brands (luckily small sizes) of “Nivea” and “Dove” – good thing, as they both turned out to be “Body wash”/Hand Soap.

Have you ever taken a bath and then “oiled” yourself thoroughly with thick, liquid soap? Well is dat me do – had to bathe all over again, with Maas Herbie commenting that “one good bath, deserves another”
Now I am forced to have someone write the Chinese for what I need, or go back to having a shopping ‘escort’.

The following week, on another expedition -this one with a Chinese Faculty member, we hired a taxi for the evening. On our return trip, the driver took a back road, passing a group of about 8 people, who were waiting for him.
We got to the back gate, which was already locked, had to turn around, again passing by the group of people, who at this time were standing in the middle of the road. Our driver did not slow down, nor did he swerve. I closed my eyes, as people scattered left and right (Serious drivers).

He then decided to take a “short cut” through a construction site. It had been raining, so there was some serious ‘puttu-puttu, mud – the outcome – of course we got stuck! We had to get out, while he tried to maneuver his way out of the rut and I had visions of the “morning headlines – FOREIGNERS ABANDONED IN CONSTRUCTION SITE!” (because at this time, he was very angry –muttering, in Chinese, “Now I must pass those people –(his customers)- 3 times”) And meck
me tell you something. When smaddy bex an’ a complain inna Chinese, it really sound intimidating.

Well, he got unstuck, picked us up and headed out (passing the angry passengers again). This time, he took the longer route to the University’s Front Gate, which by this time, was barred/closed to vehicular traffic.

The Security Guard refused to move the barriers for us, so we had to schlepp all our shopping, about a city block -no fun. But here’s the strangely hilarious thing – the Guard, abandoned his post, and helped us carry our shopping to the Elevator in the Lobby. (maybe him did feel sorry fe de poor “old” (God bless the grey hair) waiguoren, foreigners.(For by dis time, we so tired, mi pride could’n stop me from hobbling.) What can I tell you – this is China and I am having the time of my life – I LOVE IT. :)

Nuff-nuff blessings and“Walk Good”

 

Praise The Lord And Pass The Stewed Pork

Dear ALL,
Wow! What a week we have had! Tomorrow is a special Sunday & “Give Thanks “dinner -.
Stewed pork and, of course, rice! So much to be thankful for!

We have become great “mimers” while we struggle with the Chinese dialect and the 4 tones and so far, we have managed to get by – the Post office, which I tackled on my own and Walmart which “himself” and I tackled.

Yesterday, however, started off quite normally – a Chinese friend would escort us to Beijing. Well, it never happened, as the skies, which normally are grey (from the constant ‘smog”), were totally obliterated and torrential rains came down. So we decided instead, to go shopping at the BIG “Metro” (like COSTCO). We borrowed someone’s Metro Card, hailed a private mini-van/ taxi and went off. To say METRO is large, is an understatement! Anyhow we got our shopping done, arranged to leave our goods there, while we went off to find a place to eat. We successfully negotiated the six-lane highway, dodging turning traffic (you should see me run!- Shelley-Ann Fraser had nothing over me.).

We, finally chose a “Taiwanese Hot-pot restaurant” and settled in for a questionable meal of ‘fish balls’, dried tofu, strange looking mushrooms and chicken (I think). Needless to say, I was almost as hungry coming out and could only think ‘bout the 2 tins of Corned “Bully” Beef, left behind in Miami.(Some steamed cabbage and “Bully” Beef would have been really hitting the spot.)

That was the real start to the adventure, as when we were returning to retrieve our shopping, we were nearly run-over by a bus. (The pedestrian “green” crossing light, means nothing here), and we really had to scramble out of the way! -see me run! We were all visibly shaken and I was more than a little upset (But what me gwine do – this is China). But the best was yet to come.

The rest of the trip was a comic opera and nightmare rolled into one, as the taxi that we hired, was late for his next appointment and ran every ‘red’ Light. When our friend mentioned the fact that he/we could get killed, the driver commented (the universal reply)“no problem –meyou woontie – my taxi very safe” Right.

When we got out of the cab, mi two foot dem was trembling like me did just run a Marathon().
Me crawl up de steps to the elevator and was never so happy to see my room.

But what can I tell you …This is China and there’s so much to be thankful for! I LOVE IT.

“Thank God and pass the stew pork!” (my friend’s recipe) which I’m going to cook tomorrow ( we forgot the Jerk seasoning, inna Miami – what a crime!)

Nuff –nuff blessings from China.and “Walk Good”

 

Walmart again – Anancy Gyal Reporting from China

My dear Fren,
We went to Walmart again,  Do you get the feeling that this is the height of our social activity?”) .

Had the time of our lives finding a small alarm clock (we had forgotten ours) and some picture frames. We drew pictures and mimed, but it wasn’t until, Maas Herbie’ beat him chest, flap him hand an’ “cock-a-doodled”, that they knew what we wanted . It worked, as after going :”Wah!” and laughing, a young man showed us the clocks – what colors?- lavender, pink and blue,( of course).

The photo frame wasn’t so easy- I asked a lady, who called her 10 y/o grandaughter -”Speaky Inglish”. The little girl listened carefully, looked at my drawing, said -”Ahh! -you come” an took off, across the store. I followed to where she stood triumphantly, next to the Camera counter. “Good job! but I need ( “wo yaow”) picture frame, not camera ! This is (“zheiger shi Kamera!”) The poor little thing, knitted up her brows, looked at my picture frame and took me immediately to the TV counter. In desperation I said “No ,no -bushirl’ ” and held my drawing up against a wall. “hah!” she said as, the ‘penny dropped’ and she darted away again ,( with me in hot pursuit) to the shelves,( near the clocks), and triumphantly pounced on the frames. “You no tell me” she said— as she stamped her little feet, then proceeded to advise me as to what size I should buy “Very good!” I told her many, many thanks and told her grandmother that her grandchild was very good English speaker. (Who said that Jamaicans are not resourceful)

I also went to the ‘Tea-room/ Boutique’, (of course) where I tasted a collection of new (to me) Chinese teas and eventually bought some candy made from what looked like ‘sorrel’. I also discovered that no matter what the label says, -it’s all MADE IN CHINA -. or -Packaged in China. Next week, we will try out the British Supermarket which, I was told, “is quite expensive but superior quality” (Sounds like ‘Mrs. Hyacinth Bucket’? )

Well, the end of the adventure, is that “himself” bought another wheeled ‘back pack’ (to add to his collection) and wheeled himself away with our groceries. Left me to plod along ( I treated myself to a Starbucks cupcake – I deserved it) and ‘ran’ up 72 steps (I counted them), ran across the 8-lane crossover and down 72 steps- as to get a taxi, you have to be in the right location They don’t like (and it may be illegal to make) U-turns -  Not to mention dangerous

So much for my Sunday afternoon adventure.

“Walk Good” me Fren

P.S. – Did I tell you that there is a “Starbucks” on every other corner in the Downtown Shopping area? And they are always full too (a great place for my weekly treat   )  I also ‘found’ McDonald’s (like Christopher Columbus) and have added a chicken burger and fries ‘ji’rou han’bao taocan’  to the “treat” venues.

 

New Discovery – Anancy Gyal Reporting from China

Dear Friends & Family,
It’s 9:28p.m on Tuesday,8/23 (I think- we are 13 hrs ahead of you) and it’s so great to hear from you.
Well the update is that with each day, comes a new discovery of what I needed and didn’t bring. Slippers: No Size 10 (40) for ladies -had to resort to the Men’s version (the usual slippers that our Chinese grocers wore in Jamaica).Saw a huge Sale on “Crocs”- no Size fi de big-foot Jamaican. Beauty products: (expensive), Powder, Hand lotion (Johnson’s Baby brand) – Mint, Lavender or Strawberry scent and one called “Calm” -all this for your baby. .Everything, regardless of the American/European Brand name, is a “version”: “Tropicana”/” Minute Maid” . I remember the saying                      that “when in Rome…etc.” So I have found and now purchase  Chinese products which are great quality and much, cheaper.

Went with some Faculty and local staff to a “Hot Pot” restaurant (like a Chinese “fondue” with meats and vegetables cooked in broth at the table) “very fremous all over China” – the waitress told me. It was fabulous -the decor, the food the ambience and they were so polite. My only problem was the “facilities” chesuo (your new Chinese vocab. word),
were of the “squat” variety. I did not relish the idea of having my little Chinese guide support me while I answered the “call”, or worse yet, try to pick me up after I had fallen in.  . A very accommodating Staff member realized my plight and took me down 3 flights of steps to the Staff facilities that did have a standard “American”) – Did I say every day was an adventure?  So “Hot- Pot” is on my once per month “to-do”/ “treat” list.(Incidentally you can purchase all the ingredients and make your own “hot pot” – try it nuh?)

Did I mention that the University is 30minutes’ drive from the town, and is really in the “almost country” – so a weekly trip to “Walmart”, “Starbucks” (US standard) and Pizza Hut (always packed) is a treat, (for the locals too – I’m finding out).
Well that’s it for now- I have no idea of the time, as the computer is still on Miami schedule; but as the sky is now dark grey – almost getting-up time, I think, I better sign out now.
Teck care and ‘Walk Good”
Anancy Gyal inna Farrin’

 

Anancy Gyal Inna “Big-Big Farrin” – Anancy Gyal Reporting from China

Mi dear Friends & Fambly:

I am so happy to report that we arrived quite safely -We actually reach a Big-BIG farrin’, “Tenk yu Massa God”. The flight was quite uneventful, and Maas.”Herbie”s foot did not swell too much

Met a delightful “Bredda” at the airport in Beijing, (who just happened to be sitting directly behind me for 15 hours on the plane – talk about missed opportunity) He turned out to be a young Jamaican Promoter of Reggae on his way to set up a Cultural event in Beijing “H’m-m” So we exchanged cards and we will be in touch. (I may just have some use for my costume after all .)

We were met at the Airport, with a bus, for the 2 ½ hour -long drive from Beijing to the School. It was hair-raising, and I don’t know why, because when you are  Jamaican, having survived “Junction Road”,  “Devil’s Race Course” and “Cockpit Country” in Jamaica- everything else should be ‘cool breeze’ but when it’s night an’ yu  cyan see good, an’ no know where yu going and de bus jus’ a fling yu from side to side ‘roun de corner dem – you haffi feel a little concerned; but I guess that was just me, as nobody else seemed to mind.(I MISS HOME ALREADY)
The accomodations are very nice with a well-appointed: Kitchen, ( tenk you Lawd ) . So now we know the first priority “cooking appliances.” I even have a washing machine, a “ walk-in closet – straight out of your “Home Mag” and a King-sized bed, with a rock-firm “good fe yu back” mattress. (I guess it’s not so bad, as I don’t have a back ache; but I am working on procuring one of those fancy mattress pads) Thank God for small mercies. ()

Food -so far, not what I remembered (but I am learning – this is not South China): Taken to KFC for, of all things, breakfast! – orange juice, served piping hot! and what looked like an egg Mc Muffin. (I was really looking forward to the “usual” congee and steam “char su baow” that you can even get in Miami.(“This is not S. China”) Lunch was at a Dim Sum Palace,(now de appetite perking up) where one could observe the cooks in masks , making the “dumplings”. We dined on an excellent fish, and  a variety of Dim Sum,( while                      all the time me mouth jus’ a drool fe a good plate a sweet an’sour pork, wid fried rice.(I miss home already)

This was followed by a Shopping expedition, with a kind and very helpful staff member who navigated us through the nightmarish traffic (unnu remember “mad ants?”) –traffic coming, traffic going, traffic turning (whether the light on the “red” or the “green”). Horns blaring, cutting corners into oncoming traffic, making “illegal” U-turns, double parking on the side walk, pedestrians and bicycles ‘scattering in every direction, –  me jus’ shut mi eye, cross mi finger dem, an’ say mi prayers, while me hol’ mi breath. When we reach the Shopping Center, me jump outa de car, steady off meself , because me two knees were really trembling –(really hilarious)But we are Jamaican and we not supposed to ‘fraid fe no traffic.(You ever drive in Jamaica? Our people can pass driving test anywhere. ) The shopping was conducted mainly in sign language, amid curious stares. And we wound up with the most expensive electric iron (You know that Maas Herbie was responsible for that. Why do men feel that ‘more expensive’ is better? We can’t carry electricals back home with us, and as long as it does the job and heats up-who cares!) the MUST HAVE rice cooker,  “Jamaica look alike”   crackers, cheese, marmalade, croissants, mint scented Johnson’s baby powder (had a choice of “Calming Lavender), among others etc. Looks like our food will be limited to whatever can be done in a rice cooker and a wok. –“No Problem” –meyou woontie” (Your first Mandarin/Chinese words (no charge for the lesson)

Did I say “I miss home already”? Especially when I don’t have all my teas, jams, brown sugar, cornmeal porridge, packages of soups, vitamins, reading material etc that managed to be left out in the final confusion of transferring from one bag to another.  I am still rationing out the 4 slices of bun and cheese that my daughter packed, and 1 slice of Miss Pearline corn meal pudding and 1/4 of a potato pudding made by my friend Arlene; but I really miss my Teas, bun and hardough bread.  I also discovered, that I couldn’t pay wid me Credit card nobody (seemed impressed by my American Express card)  So it was off to the Bank of China (Fortunately next door) to buy RMB 6.2 to $1.00 – and we will see how far that goes.

I may just be home for the winter, as that’s where all my winter paraphernalia still resides-gloves, boots,coat, long underwear etc. I was far more prepared, when I went to Colorado . But then, I wanted to go to Colorado – BIG difference.
Teck care mi dears and “Walk Good”

Anancy Gyal (inna Farrin)

P.S. I tried to buy cassette tapes, so I could record stuff – totally obsolete, so you now know what to put in the first “care” package, along with cornmeal porridge, bun  and teas.  (when I have the mailing address)