Saturday, July 15, 2006

From the real journal

This is a quick typing of a journal I was writing when my computer did not have battery, it may go over the same stuff as the last entry, and its a bit anti chronological:

I have now been on one long distance train in China, and a hundred percent of the long distance trains I have been on have broken down. But the most important thing is that I got out of the sweat shop that is Shenzhen alive (my number one Shenzhen goal).
Actually, that is a bit unfair to Shenzhen, day two gave me hope and at least some appreciation for the city. The cafe I wrote from was a relief, the staff were the first people who made me feel that they cared more about me than my money. After the cafe, Shenzhen started looking up. I wanted to see the stock market, as it was the PRCC's first and it runs in parallel to Shanghai's. I am not sure if the staff at the cafe misspoke or they intended this, but the gave me a map to the book market, not the stock market. I didn't originally realize this because the directions were in simplifed, which I can read but not as casually.
I did realized something was not right when a mom and a daughter did not understand the Chinese I had used in the cafe to express stock market (I think Taiwan and China use different words), yet they said to my map, "Oh, we are going there too." Being that the young girl did not have the blood thirsty eyes of a stock broker, I was pretty sure something was wrong.
Anyway, the bookstore turned out to be directly next to the Shenzhen stock market (one reason I did not worry before this was that we were clearly in the popperish Shenzhen attempt at a financial district).
The book store was great, I actually stumbled upon the law section. After picking up little red books for those back home who put in orders, I started stalking the law stacks determined to start a conversation with a Chinese lawyer or a future lawyer. The first three people I propositioned were all just people interested in reading a little, so they picked up a few books and were perusing. I also learned that approaching politely is far more critical here than in Taiwan. Here you need to be extremely polite at first, otherwise they look like you introduced yourself by throwing baseballs at them.

PTI: This is off the journal until the next PTI, because I did not finish that story in the journal.

The next guy that I ran into was one of the creepiest I have met in China. I asked him "Excuse me, are you a lawyer?" He looked up at me like I was speaking Greek, offensive Greek. Assuming I said it poorly (the word lawyer includes one of the four or five Chinese sounds I truly hate to attempt), I started the question again, very slowly and carefully (which is normally effective).
He curtly cut into my sentence with, "I understand, but what does it matter?"
A little taken a back, I replied "Well, I hope to become a lawyer in China one day, and I want to hear how the experiences of Chinese lawyers differ with Americans."
He replied with one of those looks of a guy who thinks he knows more than you ever will, and said a series of idioms that I did not make heads or tails of, while he tried to look as sage as possible, and then he left. The experience left me, dry.
However, I was determined to make up for it, so I ended up talking to a young lawyer who had graduated only a year ago, and had been working in Shenzhen for a year. As typical for Shenzhen, she came from somewhere else. She had worked for a year at an insurance company. She was a former party member and said she was too "conservative" to talk about those stick political topics I am good at bringing up (I can now casually rattle off "sooooooo, how do you feel about Taiwan?")
She was very sweet, and it sounded like she was a worker ant in Shenzhen for a year, and was now ready to go to Shanghai (right choice I say).
After that, I went to the stock market. Its all computerized now, so a lovely conversation with a receptionist and a picture of the big board was all I got. It was clear it was all offices and nothing to see, but I was glad to go there.
The train was a great time, great people, and great company. The train was broke for an hour two, but then they rushed us to the station and we got in on time. My bunk mates all spoke a local dialect a lot like Mandarin (but not), so it really scared me for a while when I thought that my Mandarin had fallen apart.
I helped a sweet temporary professor, who was the one that held my bags in Guilin. In general, I am very positive on Chinese trains. Good thing too, today or tomorrow I have another and then I am going to Kenming, which I hear is dreadfully not friendly, ugh. Back to the journal:
PTI: Man I am in China now, beautiful green fields, huge limestone mountains, little villages, its really beautiful.
PTI: On top of a mountain (for those in CO, read: hill). The view is great despite the clouds, it creates a sort of mist, making the hills that compose the city more majestic. THe city is a lot of city but its fighting a llot of hills and natural beauty.
PTI: I am sweating so hard, despite a long break my paper is all wet with my sweat from my forehead.
I spoke with two more law students up here. They did not get into the nitty gritty but it was clear they wanted more transparency in government.
I am nervous about time, I have only thirty days in China, but I am determined to make this time relaxing, that is why I am willing to chill at this cafe and type away.

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