Archive for the ‘red bean everywhere’ Category

10 Things I’ve learned in a month

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
  1. When people make the HRRRRCCCGGGHHKK noise indicating they are about to spit, your immediate reaction will be to whip your head around to figure out what sort of human could possibly emit that noise. DO NOT DO THIS. Spit is eminent either way. The only thing that will happen if you watch is that you will actually see it fly through the air. Fight the urge to look. Today at the bus stop, a woman in her 70s spit about 2 centimeters from my right shoe while I casually looked left.
  2. The word “keyi” (可以) is the best. Say there’s a crazy line at the grocery store. One lane is empty but the cashier is counting cash and looking angry… Just say to her 我可以?(can I?) and it turns out, she says 可以!You can! You buy those Oreos. You deserve them. Bonus: if you ask a question with this word in it, people will usually use the same word to respond. So if you ask “can I do this?” the person will usually say “you can’t, Mandarinmandarinmandarin” but that’s okay, because you got the first part. Just raise your eyebrows and nod while saying “awwohhh” or something similarly noncommittal.
  3. Someone told me today that there are about 200,000 foreigners living in Beijing. Does that seem like a  large number to you? Because to me, that seems INCREDIBLY SMALL. Sure, it’s about 50x the size of my university, but there are a lot of people in Beijing. A lot.
  4. Which brings me to this. In America, the amount of space around your body that you would consider your “personal” space is directly related to the number of people around you. If you’re not in a crowd, I would estimate that space at around an arms length, and there’s a bubble that surrounds you outlining that space. If you’re in a crowd, maybe that bubble shrinks to about 6 inches. In China, whether you’re in a crowd or an empty sidewalk, your bubble ends where your body ends. You don’t have a bubble. If you aren’t physically occupying airspace, it’s definitely not implied as yours.
  5. You can buy Skippy’s peanut butter here in Gogurt-like tubes for 1.5RMB ($0.25), which is amazing, however a small box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch is around $10/box. Bummer.
  6. Red bean is in everything. I honestly don’t remember seeing red bean at all in the US, maybe I just missed it? Anyways, it’s the filling for every desert dumpling, pastry, and bun you can imagine. That roll that kind of looks like it might be cinnamon? Red bean. Think that bread has chocolate in it? Okay, take a bite then. It’s red bean. Order a matcha milkshake (green tea)? They put red beans on top, right next to the whipped cream. That was the first time I actually saw those little guys not in a paste from. They’re really tiny, a little smaller than black beans, and sweeter.
  7. Our culture class professor told us yesterday that his generation (he is 29) considers Mao to be about 70% correct and 30% wrong. His parents and their generation are quite different; he said when he took his mother to visit Mao’s Mausoleum, she started crying about 100 meters from the building and was inconsolably sobbing by the time they actually got to the body because she was so moved.
  8. Beijing used to have insane underground tunnels! Check out this craziness. 
  9. Taking the bus is ridiculously easy! With your metro card, a ride is either 0.40 or 0.60RMB… I don’t remember which, but either way falls somewhere between a nickel and a dime. The stops are well announced both in Chinese and in English. This afternoon, there were several empty seats, but when a father and son got on with grandma and grandpa, two different girls around my age stood up from their seats and insisted to the grandmother 坐 巴 坐 巴! (Sit! Sit!)
  10. Watching small children (please note that by “small” I mean up to and including 10 or 11 year olds) go to the bathroom in public is a jarring experience, but not for the reasons one might think. The other day, as we were headed into our favorite bakery (to buy food that was inevitably full of red bean) I watched an adorable little girl pop a squat and urinate on the sidewalk in front of the shop. Okay, fine, just remember to avoid that spot. But then, you have to think: how many children are there in this city? And how often a day do they have to go to the bathroom? And that’s when you realize that the boots you’re wearing won’t be coming home with you.