March 1 08

Saturday. Lovely day. A day for nothing but relaxing and taking care of me. Time to sharpen my eyeliner pencils. Plenty of time to bike. Time to check out the online grocery shopping with free delivery, thereby avoiding the massive grocery crowds. I learned something already today. A cantaloupe here is called a rock melon in English. Well it does look like a rock!

I do have a small bit of work to do that may take up the afternoon. I will go to Pudong (the area across the river) to a violin showroom to check on some violins that the school may purchase.

I've been invited to go along to a surprise birthday party for someone I don't even know. But since I don't know very many people it's hard to say no to the opportunity to meet some! The young woman who invited me is from Western Australia and her husband is from England. She teaches in my school though we never see each other. He subs there and I don't see him at work either. The few social outings I've been on usually involve mostly the elementary teachers whom I don't see during the day because they occupy the first floor of the school in a different wing from me and have a different lunch. This works out well. Colleagues, but not the ones I really work with. The funny thing is the principal and his girlfriend go out and party as much as any of the teachers. I'm trying to make up my mind how much I want to spend time with these folks. They are fine folks, but we are in China for different reasons.

I met another 'new' music teacher at a nearby school, asking to observe my classes later in March. He's been here 2 months; 1 more than me. I had some fantastic fajitas -- yes fajitas -- at dinner with teachers last night at one of their favorite hangouts, "Blue Frog." I decided to walk home from there, not knowing the way exactly but knowing the general direction. I had visions of being lost wandering for hours trying to find my way, in a pleasant way, but I walked just the right way after I consulted the map later. I wanted the exercise and now know it takes about 55 minutes to walk from there! It was a good walk; all sidewalks/cobblestone and lots of people out walking, biking and shopping. It was cool, but not cold, with a light breeze rustling trees overhead inside a park that lasted for about a mile of the walk. I can see doing that again.

A few nights ago a group of official looking people rang my bell from outside the building. I didn't buzz them in but went to see who it was. I didn't recognize them and their dialect was thick so I had a hard time understanding them. They wanted in but I didn't let them. I called our business manager to talk to them to see what they wanted. He told me they wanted the landlord and that there are a lot of agencies going around asking to buy the flats. The principal told me another story that a man like that had gotten into his building and he actually let him into his apartment on the pretense of wanting his phone number, wearing some kind of uniform and pretending to be official. A few days later he thought his girlfriend was playing a trick on him by hiding the DVD player and well, she was not. It had been taken in the time, like 30 seconds or less, that he took to get a pen while that stranger was in his apartment. I will never let a stranger in the building. There is a locking outer door which is usually locked shut. I'm surprised those people got in past the guards, but then again they may have been with an agency.


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