Monday, January 19, 2009
Mr. Bi rings my apartment at 7:50 am. He's taking me to the Hongqiao airport for my flight to Shenzhen. By road its 120 yuan, by freeway, 140. My flight to Shenzhen is at 10:10 am.
Because of traffic, we get to chat for over an hour. This is the part where I get to improve my Chinese speaking and listening. Mr. Bi is from Anhui, the province west of Shanghai. He has 2 kids. I'm all, one child policy? He tells me that the countryside is still very feudal, and so...I finish his sentence...gotta keep trying until it's a son. Mr. Bi asks me what I think the population of China is. 1.3 bil I say. With all of the countryside activity, he thinks it's 1.6 bil.
He asks where my own family is. I tell him I'm not having one, that I'm a writer, that I need time. It's good that his phone has rung, so we can go off topic when he finishes his call. He is a very cool dude. Though as he talks on the phone, I feel like just told him that I was gay. Which lines up. Gays and solo women--they derail patriarchy's reproduction.
It's always funny how Mao gets to be a subject. Mr. Bi, like every other Chinese that is asked about it, has an opinion, an impassioned narrative of how Mao exists in China. Of which I get 60% of it. The first part of the sentence I comprehend and then the last 4 crucial words, hmm. I'm not so disclosing about being a halftard in this case--I don't ask what this and this and this and that and that and that means. Sometimes, you just wanna experience the flow of the language, the energy. Meanings are overrated, yes?
We talk about American and Chinese economy. It goes to spending habits. Mr. Bi tells me that story, you know the one about the American old lady and the Chinese old lady. The Chinese lady saves cash her whole life and when she's about to die, she can finally purchase a house. The American old lady takes out a loan and spends her whole life paying it back--she finally pays it off just before she dies.
I get to the Hongqiao airport at 9:15am. Don't worry, Mr. Bi, you only need to be there 30 minutes early. I breeze through the airport cuz I have no checked luggage (fyi, if you need to check luggage, you need more than 30 minutes). I'm worried about liquids, 3.0 oz. what what, but my bag goes through and the security dude says I have a knife in my bag. Right the black swiss army knife, engraved with Alice T. that my pal Rod gave me years back. Do I have to leave it? It's a sentimental gift. Will you be back here within a month. YES! Then register it over there. So the knife stays in Shanghai.