Mar 25, 2008 - OF DRAGONS AND HORSES    No Comments

New Shoes

Filly found herself in the market one day when a very strange monkey decided to make conversation with her.  She told him over and over again that she did not know Chinese and that he should go away, but he kept up with her as she bargained for things she needed and continued to pester her.  The rat behind the counter watched carefully all that was happening and relayed the information to all the animals close by.  Something was amiss….and they would all soon discover what it was.  Filly left the store and began to make her way back when the monkey suddenly threw a rope around her neck and began pulling on it to take her away with him.  Filly drew back to a standing position and kicked about wildly to get away.  The rat jumped up onto Filly and began gnawing through the rope until it fell away and Filly was free to run.

And run she did, like the wind, until she was safe at home again.

I had a most interesting event occur one day.  I had gone off to the post office and then to a store where I was buying some necessities such as toilet paper as I made my way back to the school.  I was not far from my school, these places were literally outside the gate of my school, and down about a block.  Nevertheless, I was alone, but as standard practice, not without eyes.  Yes, everywhere I went in China, I was purposely watched and followed.As I entered this store, I was followed in by a small crowd of people wishing to watch the foreigner and emulate my purchase or merely gather a story to tell their grandchildren at supper.

As I did this, a man came forward and began to attempt making conversation with me.  As he was more of a worker, he spoke only Chinese, no English.  His clothes were more of working class Chinese vs. Chinese intellectual class.  I told him over and over again that I did not speak Chinese and to go away.  The astute shop owner watched his advances and barked at him to leave me alone and leave.

Well, he did…only to wait outside the door for me when I exited.  As I left the store, he came up beside me and began talking again.  Nonsensical stuff like how he loved me and other such bull as he then put an arm around me and began to pull me close….this was not how I imagined my life ending.  I knew nothing of this man, or his intentions.  For all I knew, this was some sort of ruse to get me to come along and be forced into white slavery or something.

I wrestled away from him as instantaneously as his arm came around me (I NEVER underestimate the power of ANY self-defense training!!)  I was just as instantaneously hustled away from him and into the surreal moment within a James Bond or Jackie Chan film when they’re in a foreign country and get into a fight and are being chased and kind foreigners swiftly guard them by whisking them down back alleys and through store fronts and buildings in ways that appeared not to have existed moments before.And just as quickly as it had begun, I found myself standing safely but out of breath in front of my school gate.  I walked through and determined I would NEVER, EVER go it alone into the streets again.  And without further ado considered the incident a life lesson in naivity and moved forward through the day without another word.

Three days later, at 4 AM in the morning, a loud racous knocking sounded upon my door.

MISS PAULINE  BANG BANG BANG MISS PAULINE   WAKE UP!!  PLEASE TO LET US COME IN!!

(Now mind you, I was being roused thusly from quite a sound sleep and was merely in my pjs and couldn’t even imagine to what I owed the pleasure of such a riotous rousing)

I arose and threw on a robe and headed for the door to find the Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Office and our Interpreter, Eugene, with a couple of bulky men I had never seen before and wasn’t really sure I wanted to know.

I was ushered to the edge of my bed and the Secretary, an animate lady in her forties, began pepering me with questions, faster than Eugene could feed them to me.

Who you know in Wuhu Shipyards?

No one.

Who you know in Port of Wuhu?

No one.

They know you…who you know?

I know no one.

I looked pleadingly at Eugene, seeking some sort of reference for the true purposes of this interrogation.

Miss Pauline, they think you are a spy.

A what?

Had I actually heard them correctly?  A SPY!!!  Oh boy, I could see my mother’s face being interviewed on TV for 60 minutes as they discussed the case of her daughter being in a Chinese prison for …spying!!

Wait.  I had not a spirit of fear…well, maybe for a few minutes, but I wasn’t a spy.  I was a teacher of English.  That is what I was here for and that is exactly what I was doing.  I had done nothing wrong being in the marketplace.  If anyone was a spy, it was someone else, not me.

What makes them think I am a spy?

Eugene proceeded to relate to me the incident with the man in the marketplace that, as you remember, I had told to no one.

I didn’t know him.  I had no idea what he was doing.  I told him I didn’t know Chinese and to go away.  I ran away from him.

The secretary was a little perturbed about Eugene and I turning the interrogation into a private conversation.  She interjected to him and he turned back to me.

It was at this point I began to learn just exactly what my school’s Foreign Affair’s office knew of me and my background.  The Secretary began quoting off facts of my personal life back in the states, such as winning a Speech Contest in highschool and the fact that my parents had both worked for universities or institutions of Higher Learning and that I had attended a private school most of my life and that I was a Distinguished American High School Award recipient for several years…

SCARY!!

It was then explained to me that because my degree was in journalism rather than straight English as other teachers, I was more closely watched and my work under closer scrutiny.  (GREAT….was my thought!)

So after the tension eased and the Secretary began to realize I truly was not a spy and had not known the man in the market, she flooded Eugene with words and they both started laughing.

Now I was totally confused.  I merely wanted to go back to bed, but they were having to grand a time…and why were they up at this hour anyway?  I began to think they never slept…at least I never actually saw them sleeping….

Eugene explained (although he couldn’t keep from laughing) how the man had come to the school the night before demanding to see me.  When the school had refused to let him enter the Foreign Housing where I was staying, he insisted he had to see me because he had bought new shoes for the occasion.

HA!!  The joke was on him…new shoes…just to see me…how absolutely absurd was THAT!

Better yet, how absolutely absurd was to be my new nickname:

Xin Xie  (New Shoes)

So after a few more laughs…everyone went on their way as I sighed a huge sigh of relief at the funny way this turned out, a heavy cloud in the back of my mind as to how it COULD have turned out.

I think often of that man…it is my understanding that they declared him crazy and sent him off to a re-education facility for a few weeks.  Eugene re-assured me that I should not worry about it, but I did have to wonder somewhat.  That’s what Americans do.  But whether or not that was a full and truthful story from my Chinese, was another elaborate guessing game altogether.

Filly headed back to her stall with the command of Eugene the Monkey’s boss heavy on her mind.  From now on, Filly could only leave the Foreign Barn if the Appaloosa, the English Mare or the Buffalo were in tow.  She also learned that you cannot truly know another culture until you have walked a mile in their shoes.instaneously as his arm came around me (I NEVER underestimate the power of ANY self-defense training!!)  I was just as instantaneously hustled away from him and into the surreal moment within a James Bond or Jackie Chan film when they’re in a foreign country and get into a fight and are being chased and kind foreigners swiftly guard them by whisking them down back alleys and through store fronts and buildings in ways that appeared not to have existed moments before.And just as quickly as it had begun, I found myself standing safely but out of breath in front of my school gate.  I walked through and determined I would NEVER, EVER go it alone into the streets again.  And without further ado considered the incident a life lesson in naivity and moved forward through the day without another word.

Three days later, at 4 AM in the morning, a loud racous knocking sounded upon my door.

MISS PAULINE  BANG BANG BANG MISS PAULINE   WAKE UP!!  PLEASE TO LET US COME IN!!

(Now mind you, I was being roused thusly from quite a sound sleep and was merely in my pjs and couldn’t even imagine to what I owed the pleasure of such a riotous rousing)

I arose and threw on a robe and headed for the door to find the Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Office and our Interpreter, Eugene, with a couple of bulky men I had never seen before and wasn’t really sure I wanted to know.

I was ushered to the edge of my bed and the Secretary, an animate lady in her forties, began pepering me with questions, faster than Eugene could feed them to me.

Who you know in Wuhu Shipyards?

No one.

Who you know in Port of Wuhu?

No one.

They know you…who you know?

I know no one.

I looked pleadingly at Eugene, seeking some sort of reference for the true purposes of this interrogation.

Miss Pauline, they think you are a spy.

A what?

Had I actually heard them correctly?  A SPY!!!  Oh boy, I could see my mother’s face being interviewed on TV for 60 minutes as they discussed the case of her daughter being in a Chinese prison for …spying!!

Wait.  I had not a spirit of fear…well, maybe for a few minutes, but I wasn’t a spy.  I was a teacher of English.  That is what I was here for and that is exactly what I was doing.  I had done nothing wrong being in the marketplace.  If anyone was a spy, it was someone else, not me.

What makes them think I am a spy?

Eugene proceeded to relate to me the incident with the man in the marketplace that, as you remember, I had told to no one.

I didn’t know him.  I had no idea what he was doing.  I told him I didn’t know Chinese and to go away.  I ran away from him.

The secretary was a little perturbed about Eugene and I turning the interrogation into a private conversation.  She interjected to him and he turned back to me.

It was at this point I began to learn just exactly what my school’s Foreign Affair’s office knew of me and my background.  The Secretary began quoting off facts of my personal life back in the states, such as winning a Speech Contest in highschool and the fact that my parents had both worked for universities or institutions of Higher Learning and that I had attended a private school most of my life and that I was a Distinguished American High School Award recipient for several years…

SCARY!!

It was then explained to me that because my degree was in journalism rather than straight English as other teachers, I was more closely watched and my work under closer scrutiny.  (GREAT….was my thought!)

So after the tension eased and the Secretary began to realize I truly was not a spy and had not known the man in the market, she flooded Eugene with words and they both started laughing.

Now I was totally confused.  I merely wanted to go back to bed, but they were having to grand a time…and why were they up at this hour anyway?  I began to think they never slept…at least I never actually saw them sleeping….

Eugene explained (although he couldn’t keep from laughing) how the man had come to the school the night before demanding to see me.  When the school had refused to let him enter the Foreign Housing where I was staying, he insisted he had to see me because he had bought new shoes for the occasion.

HA!!  The joke was on him…new shoes…just to see me…how absolutely absurd was THAT!

Better yet, how absolutely absurd was to be my new nickname:

Xin Xie  (New Shoes)

So after a few more laughs…everyone went on their way as I sighed a huge sigh of relief at the funny way this turned out, a heavy cloud in the back of my mind as to how it COULD have turned out.

I think often of that man…it is my understanding that they declared him crazy and sent him off to a re-education facility for a few weeks.  Eugene re-assured me that I should not worry about it, but I did have to wonder somewhat.  That’s what Americans do.  But whether or not that was a full and truthful story from my Chinese, was another elaborate guessing game altogether.

Filly headed back to her stall with the command of Eugene the Monkey’s boss heavy on her mind.  From now on, Filly could only leave the Foreign Barn if the Appaloosa, the English Mare or the Buffalo were in tow.  She also learned that you cannot truly know another culture until you have walked a mile in their shoes. as his arm came around me (I NEVER underestimate the power of ANY self-defense training!!)  I was just as instantaneously hustled away from him and into the surreal moment within a James Bond or Jackie Chan film when they’re in a foreign country and get into a fight and are being chased and kind foreigners swiftly guard them by whisking them down back alleys and through store fronts and buildings in ways that appeared not to have existed moments before.And just as quickly as it had begun, I found myself standing safely but out of breath in front of my school gate.  I walked through and determined I would NEVER, EVER go it alone into the streets again.  And without further ado considered the incident a life lesson in naivete and moved forward through the day without another word.

Three days later, at 4 AM in the morning, a loud raucous knocking sounded upon my door.

MISS PAULINE  BANG BANG BANG MISS PAULINE   WAKE UP!!  PLEASE TO LET US COME IN!!

(Now mind you, I was being roused thusly from quite a sound sleep and was merely in my pjs and couldn’t even imagine to what I owed the pleasure of such a riotous rousing)

I arose and threw on a robe and headed for the door to find the Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Office and our Interpreter, Eugene, with a couple of bulky men I had never seen before and wasn’t really sure I wanted to know.

I was ushered to the edge of my bed and the Secretary, an animate lady in her forties, began peppering me with questions, faster than Eugene could feed them to me.

Who you know in Wuhu Shipyards?

No one.

Who you know in Port of Wuhu?

No one.

They know you…who you know?

I know no one.

I looked pleadingly at Eugene, seeking some sort of reference for the true purposes of this interrogation.

Miss Pauline, they think you are a spy.

A what?

Had I actually heard them correctly?  A SPY!!!  Oh boy, I could see my mother’s face being interviewed on TV for 60 minutes as they discussed the case of her daughter being in a Chinese prison for …spying!!

Wait.  I had not a spirit of fear…well, maybe for a few minutes, but I wasn’t a spy.  I was a teacher of English.  That is what I was here for and that is exactly what I was doing.  I had done nothing wrong being in the marketplace.  If anyone was a spy, it was someone else, not me.

What makes them think I am a spy?

Eugene proceeded to relate to me the incident with the man in the marketplace that, as you remember, I had told to no one.

I didn’t know him.  I had no idea what he was doing.  I told him I didn’t know Chinese and to go away.  I ran away from him.

The secretary was a little perturbed about Eugene and I turning the interrogation into a private conversation.  She interjected to him and he turned back to me.

It was at this point I began to learn just exactly what my school’s Foreign Affair’s office knew of me and my background.  The Secretary began quoting off facts of my personal life back in the states, such as winning a Speech Contest in highschool and the fact that my parents had both worked for universities or institutions of Higher Learning and that I had attended a private school most of my life and that I was a Distinguished American High School Award recipient for several years…

SCARY!!

It was then explained to me that because my degree was in journalism rather than straight English as other teachers, I was more closely watched and my work under closer scrutiny.  (GREAT….was my thought!)

So after the tension eased and the Secretary began to realize I truly was not a spy and had not known the man in the market, she flooded Eugene with words and they both started laughing.

Now I was totally confused.  I merely wanted to go back to bed, but they were having to grand a time…and why were they up at this hour anyway?  I began to think they never slept…at least I never actually saw them sleeping….

Eugene explained (although he couldn’t keep from laughing) how the man had come to the school the night before demanding to see me.  When the school had refused to let him enter the Foreign Housing where I was staying, he insisted he had to see me because he had bought new shoes for the occasion.

HA!!  The joke was on him…new shoes…just to see me…how absolutely absurd was THAT!

Better yet, how absolutely absurd was to be my new nickname:

Xin Xie  (New Shoes)

So after a few more laughs…everyone went on their way as I sighed a huge sigh of relief at the funny way this turned out, a heavy cloud in the back of my mind as to how it COULD have turned out.

I think often of that man…it is my understanding that they declared him crazy and sent him off to a re-education facility for a few weeks.  Eugene re-assured me that I should not worry about it, but I did have to wonder somewhat.  That’s what Americans do.  But whether or not that was a full and truthful story from my Chinese, was another elaborate guessing game altogether.

Filly headed back to her stall with the command of Eugene the Monkey’s boss heavy on her mind.  From now on, Filly could only leave the Foreign Barn if the Appaloosa, the English Mare or the Buffalo were in tow.  She also learned that you cannot truly know another culture until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

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