Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chinese adults stay limber with hacky sack

The adults in this video are pretty limber.

Cindy and I went to Ritan Park on Saturday in Beijing. It's right in the heart of the city, and you see all kinds of activities -- people playing badminton without a net, table tennis on public tables, dance classes, lots of kids running around and adults playing hacky sack.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Hike in hills has auspicious beginning

Cindy and farmer near Auspicious Village

On Sunday we joined about 20 other folks on a hiking trip to villages about 90 minutes north of Beijing. A company called Beijing Hikers arranges tours every weekend.

This hike, which lasted a bit more than three hours, took us through several farming villages, walnut groves, orchards and up over some steep, rocky paths. The trip started near Jisicun (pronounced jee-see-tsoon), which we were told means "auspicious village."

Three-wheeled motorcycles haul everything.

Morning glories were all along the route. 

We finished the hike at Huanghuacheng, where the Great Wall rides the mountain ridge like a dragon's back down to a reservoir

On our tour we we had people from Sardinia, Slovenia, Pakistan, Malaysia, France and some others who were speaking languages we couldn't place.

This section of the Great Wall doesn't get many tourists.
Our two dozen folks were about the only folks up there
on a beautiful day. 

Impressions of China
China's grandparents
A little tour of Tsinghua University campus
Chinese adults stay limber with hacky sack

Guangxi: Terraced rice paddies, sugarloaf mountains
Three days on the Yangtze River
Video: Chinese calligraphy in Xi'an
The madding crowd in the Forbidden City
Why the Chinese will never drop their written language
A little tour of Tsinghua University campus
Deciphering China, ideograms to menus
Beijing revisited, 23 years later
From the Economist: Daily chart: Choked

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Pakistani journalist penalized by dumb immigration system

Zahid Khan, 29, is a graduate student in the Global Business Journalism program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

I recommended him for the program after reviewing his application and interviewing him by telephone. He had solid journalism experience, an excellent academic record and an impressive personal essay.

Zahid had worked for the U.S. government in his native Pakistan for two years. He was a reporter for its news and information agency, Voice of America.  He traveled to Afghanistan on assignment more than once.

Wins fellowship to Penn

He won a fellowship to study in the master's program at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, but there was a problem.  His former employer, the U.S. government, whose image he had helped promote in Pakistan, one of our key allies in the war on terrorism, denied him a visa.

No reason was given. So one is left to speculate.

One possibility is that he has been caught like a dolphin in a tuna net, that our skittish anti-terrorism authorities netted him by mistake. It could be that he is of the gender, age, marital status (single) and nationality that fits a particular profile considered risky. Young males trying to immigrate from Muslim countries attract special scrutiny. But we will never know.

In the meantime, he is working for me as a teaching assistant in the Multimedia Business Journalism course. Cindy and I took him to dinner the other night. He is a smart, talented young man, and he will get his graduate degree in journalism from a Chinese university, not a U.S. one.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

What a $6 haircut looks like

 The barbershops on the Tsinghua University campus offer haircuts for 10 yuan, about $1.75.

Last year I had a couple of bad experiences at $1.75 each and decided to splurge by going off campus to one of the fancy hair-styling salons.

For 55 yuan, about $9, a young woman did an excellent job of giving a light trim that made the bushy mess neat and manageable.

So I decided to go back. When I arrived, the 20 or so workers were doing calisthenics led by an energetic supervisor. She called and they responded, apparently with inspiring slogans. "Treat customers well," I suppose they were saying. Or maybe, "Work fast."

Never read emails during haircut

Ever impulsive and impatient, I went to the place next door, whose hair cutters evidently had finished their daily exercise and group cheers.

They showed me a price list I didn't understand, except that the cheapest option was 38 yuan, about $6. I chose that one. I showed the young man I wanted about half an inch off all the way around. He held thumb and forefinger about half an inch apart to show he understood.

So I began reading emails on my iPhone, and when I looked up, the hair on the top was gone. Then he went after the sides and skinned me. He gave me the haircut that all his friends have.

What we had here was a failure to communicate. At the outset I had told him, wo bu shuo zhongwen. I don't speak Chinese. And he said, bu shuo yingyu. I don't speak English. So we were even.

My Dad used to say that the only difference between a good haircut and a bad one is a couple of days. In this case, it could be a couple of weeks before it grows back. My hair hasn't been this short since I was 17.

Hair stylists do group exercises, with call and response, led by the supervisor, center.

Some services and products are very cheap here. After I was done getting clipped, I found that my bicycle had a flat tire. I took it to our favorite bike guy near the south gate of the campus. The tire was cracked, the tube had a hole in it. In the 10 minutes while I waited he replaced both as well as the basket on the front, which had developed two big holes.

Total price, 55 yuan, about $9. Pretty good deal.