Do they call it ‘Chinese Food’ in China?

DSCF1557If you ever find yourself standing on a street corner in Shanghai, you might find these handy tips helpful – I wish I had them before I went there…

  • It’s really, really far away…like on the other side of the world far away.  You should pack some snacks for the trip….and definitely go to the washroom before you leave.
  • You will stand out.  Especially if you’re ‘Caucasian’ with white hair.  It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo’, but the total opposite.
  • Crosswalks are for dare-devils…unless your host insists that it’s okay for you to step out into traffic, ‘because the locals are terrified of killing a foreigner’.
  • If you have a language barrier, giving them the ‘thumbs up’ sign of approval doesn’t translate.  They probably think you’re asking to hitchhike.
  • Massages are very popular there – everyone goes to get massages…but if a lady approaches you on the street and asks if you want a massage, say no.  In fact, just walk away and pretend you didn’t see them.
  • People will try to sell you Rolex watches that only cost $50 here….see above.
  • $1 = 5 RMB (Chinese Dollars) and you should haggle down to less than half of any price for merchandise.  Make a ridiculous offer, and when they say ‘no‘, just walk away – they’ll come and find you.
  • You won’t find Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls on any menu, but you will find jellyfish, duck tongues, eel, snake, and other things you didn’t know you could eat.
  • When your host offers you an exotic dish that you really aren’t interested in trying, it’ll get put on your plate anyway….and you better eat it.
  • Forks and knives look like 2 sticks…it’s okay to stab your food with them.
  • Don’t drink the water unless it comes in a bottle or has been boiled….just trust me on this one.
  • Tea comes in 2 flavors; black or green. Both are safe to drink.
  • There’s a lot of people there…like more than you can count.  Even if you could, double it.
  • The roads seem the same as here, but 4 lanes means between 3 and 6 lanes of traffic there, and the lines are only vague recommendations.
  • The concept of personal space on the subway in Shanghai doesn’t exist.  Have a mint before commuting.
  • The police drive around with their emergency lights flashing, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere in particular, and no one gets out of their way.  I don’t know what would happen in a real emergency….for example, if a foreigner gets run over at a crosswalk.

For more travel tips, check out my blog; ‘No Gravy for Old Men’.

https://troypulchinski.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/no-gravy-for-old-men/comment-page-1/

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The Snow Guru

guru

Unless you live on the west coast, you know that this winter has been too long, too cold and plagued by that stinging, feathery annoyance we call snow.  It snarled traffic, filled your boots, and gave those snotty little kids too many snow days.  Yuck!

But because I don’t have to traverse the frozen tundra as much as I used to, I spend more time out in the driveway, learning the deep secrets of this seasonal intruder.  It’s gotten to the point that people will now seek out my wisdom and advice when it comes to snow removal.  At least, that’s what I choose to believe.

“Oh great snow guru, I seek your deep understanding on a pressing matter. My driveway fills with white cold stuffs from the heavens and I know not how to deal with it.  Can you help, oh great one?”

“Listen to my words, child.  The great tides float all boats.  Be not the first boat to rise…”

“I’m so sorry great Guru, but I have no idea what that means.”

“It means, let your neighbour clear his driveway first, because he might have sympathy on you and clear yours, saving you from doing it.  Now go.”

“Thank you, oh master of the snow!”

I carry an assortment of implements to help manage the onslaught of winter;  scrapers, snow shovels, ice-chippers, snow blower, road salt, and a beer fridge.  Proper attire is also key…  me in hat

A big furry hat completes my ensemble.  It is my crown.  My head dress.  It tells the neighbourhood that I must know what I’m doing, because I look ridiculous in it!

Another frigid soul approaches….

“My great and powerful snow guru, I hear it will snow and then turn to freezing rain later.  Should I go ahead and shovel?”

“My dear child;  ‘snow before rain is a pain – snow before ice is nice.'”

“Oh…..I see…..so, should I shovel or not?”

“NO!  If you shovel now, the ice will collect on the ground and you will have a skating rink in the morning.  If you leave the snow, it will hold the ice on top and form a crust that will be easy to remove without using any salt.  Now begone, for I seek solitude…and another beer.”

Often, they don’t actually ask the questions as much as silently imply that I should come over and tell them what to do.  So I continue to dispense lessons in all that is winter to my cold and hungry pupils, even when they avoid eye contact and shoo their kids away, mumbling something about ‘stranger-danger’.

I serve the greater good in this frigid, desolate place, imparting deep wisdom and sage advice upon the great unknowing masses.  It’s a gift that I must share…

I think I’ve lost my mind….

please make this damn winter stop!

Southpaw Sorrows

southpaw

Truly, we are the probably the last publicly marginalized, reviled and scoffed at social group on the planet –  we ‘left-handers’.

From the old Catholic-school nuns who swung yard sticks like Japanese Katana’s with the same stealth and accuracy across our sore, crippled knuckles,

nun to 3-ring binders that defied our ability to write even the most simple notes on the page, left-handed people have had to endure pain and abuse all our lives.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s, left handed kids were about as popular as the witches of Salem.  In fact, lefties were at some point, considered possessed when writing with the ‘wrong’ hand.

Looking at the contorted, sideways scribbling we do, it’s hard to argue the point.  Dragging your hand through fresh ink leaves an ugly stain and smears the writing as you go.  No wonder those angry old nuns would rattle their sabers at us.

We huddle and hunch when we write, looking like a circus side-show, trying to hide the hideousness of our affliction, fearful of public humiliation and scorn from ‘normal’ people.

Life doesn’t really offer much sympathy for the left-handed either.  Considering that we make up about 10% of the population, you’d think we would have formed some sort of support group by now.

Maybe a bunch of angry lefties tried, but when they wrote their manifesto, all the ink smeared and no one could read it…

There was even a Simpson’s episode, where the only left-handed cartoon character that exists, made a go at it and failed:

left ned

Poor old Ned – between being maligned for his faith, overly optimistic nature and being cursed with left-handedness, he really didn’t stand a chance in this cruel world of ‘righties’.

Scissors are made for right-handed people.  Did you know that?  Probably not, since most of you are right-handed.  That’s just it, isn’t it?  Why would you know?  Life is great for you. Sports equipment, outboard motors, tools, cars – all favor the right-handed world.

I did find one big advantage we lefties have (at least in North America);  Drive-thru’s.

drive thru

Whether it’s a bank machine, fast-food joint, or dry-cleaners, the transaction takes place on the left side of the car – perfect for us southpaws!  Tapping the screen on the ATM is a dream.

Watching right-handed people drop their bank cards out the window because they don’t have the dexterity for drive-thru’s is hilarious!

I guess in the end, it’s not all bad for us.  It’s worth noting that lefties are generally more intelligent than our right-handed brethren, too.   And we have a tendency to be more creative – part of the whole right-brain, left-brain thing.

So next time you see someone scrunched over a piece of paper like Quasimodo, give them some space and a bit of reverence.  They may be creating a masterpiece…that no one will ever see because of the horrible smear marks.