My office, except for the strange multiple deadbolt lock on the door, was immediately familiar. I spent a few hours moving in yesterday, setting up class files on my computer, and enjoying this comfortable and "clean, well-lighted space" (as Hemingway said):
I took a break to walk outside, find a place to sit with good feng shui, enjoy an orange, listen to the strumming guitar and folk singing of an aspiring student-artist, and watch these handsome birds (species, anyone?):
Later, I decided I needed some file folders, notecards, and a pair of scissors. The student books & dry goods store we take for granted on American universities do not exist here. A quick Google search for nearby office supplies/stationary stores proved fruitless. Time to walk!
I journeyed over to the commercial area near campus, remembered a side street where a colleague helped me buy a Chinese phone (turns out my iPhone is the only model every made without a sim card: thank you very much, Verizon), and -- after less than an hour of searching -- found the perfect little shop crowded with an impossible, jumbled, totally delightful array of office supplies. The proprietors, whom I took to be a married couple, waived away my awkward sign language with a friendly gesture that I took to mean, "Go find what you want!" After pawing around through stacks and bins, I found the requisite items (no one, it seems, uses hard copy file folders anymore, so these were in an especially obscure and buried place). My one successful effort at sign language, a scissoring action with my index and middle fingers, produced a box of diverse scissors from which I chose a mid-priced, older pair that might date to the Cultural Revolution. Acquisition in hand, I ventured back out to the street and at a busy intersection lingered to take in the scene and record some photographs:
The latter (above) is especially informative about my new home:
- Bang-bang men and women are common (left in photo), carrying loads for hire using their strong shoulder poles. Some of the poles are simply bamboo stalks, and others are carefully crafted and wide to be as strong, light and comfortable as possible;
- Older people tend to dress in dark and fairly drab styles;
- Younger people tend to dress in bright, gay colors;
- The streets and storefronts are often brightly decorated;
- I sense that people do not like to have their photo taken (and generally avoid it); and
- Everyone dresses in warm layers (note the down coats!) despite the low 50s deg F weather.
I had planned to hike on Jinyun Mountain -- a 3,000 foot high ridge that separates Beibei from Chongqing -- with a colleague today, but alas after a dry week a steady rain has settled in.