Dienstag, 27. Dezember 2011

Last Christmas,.....

Although we`re not that much in all this Christmas Mumbo Jumbo, we`ve decided to invite guests this year to compensate our being far from home, families and friends. And the clubs or bars for the After-Mumbo Jumbo.

In my girlfriend`s company about a dozen of her Chinese co-workers sacrifice half their lunch break every workday to meet and build up a DIY (or TeachIY)-german class, with one of them having lived in Germany for two years being their teacher.

Everybody knowing what role food is playing in Chinese culture ("Eating is the heaven of the simple man") can understand how big the sacrifice is these guys take.

As we`ve been out with them for Karaoke and Dinner before, we knew they were a lively bunch of wonderful and nice people hanging out with would be fun . So my girlfriend invited them, ten came, two bringing their children.

A few days before Christmas invitations made by the Chinese circulated through the company`s intranet, speaking of "exclusive outfits and masks welcome". Well, we didn`t bother much explaining that this is a different celebration a couple of months later, we weren`t planning a contemplative evening anyway.

What we had to put some thought in was what we`d serve for dinner, as of course the menu should be as german - or at least european - as possible.

For the food selection we were lucky in two ways - local short supply routes and support from Germany. With Ikea, Metro, Carrefour and Walmart all within 20 minutes walking distance as well as having received a 5 kg Christmas package from my girlfriends` parents we were able to provide German chocolats, lebkuchen and almond biscuits as traditional Christmas sweets for decoration and to shorten waiting spans. For dinner we offered Köttbullar (yes, from Ikea) with sauce chasseur, mashed potatoes, self-made red cabbage, salad and pudding as dessert (made from instant powder, I must admit, but as you hardly get that in China it was exclusive enough :-)

But dinner was just a tiny part of the eclectic Christmas Eve programme. When you invite Chinese people over, you should have that -  a programme, that is, a plan, a schedule what you`re about to do in the time you spend together. There`s seldom a mere casual "hanging out" - Chinese guests want to be entertained.

So we started in the afternoon with jointly decorating our Christmas tree - a 2m plastic fir from Carrefour.
What became a rather short activity as a dozen Chinese scurrying around a tree left it fully decorated less than five minutes later :-)

After that came the first highlight - we asked them to prepare "O Christmas tree" in German two weeks before, and they did. One of them even could play it on our piano (yes, we have a piano in our living room like every sophisticated burgeois is supposed to. The previous tenants left it there. Of course we ourselves can`t play a single note.)

So we had twelve Chinese standing in our living room singing "Oh Christmas tree" in German. Fantastic. Made a short video of it, just follow the link:


As I already mentioned, I´m actually not that much into Christmas, maybe because I´m coming from a rather small non-religious family where Christmas never was that big a deal, and we never really sang songs. So this Chinese-German Christmas choir become my maybe most remarkable Christmas experience so far.

So far away from home - weird.

After that we exchanged gifts - as we had prepared one for everyone I put on a Santa costume (30 RMB at Metro :-) ) and gave them out. Was fun. Unfortunately (or luckily?) we have no picture of that yet, as Santa had no time taking pictures while handing out gifts. Maybe I´ll add a picture here when we`ve exchanged photos with the Chinese, as they made plenty.

After dinner we went on with playing games, like a mixture of charade and Chinese whispers (funny that`s it`s actually called like that, for Germans: "Stille Post"), which wasn`t that easy because there were mainly 成语 "chengyu" to guess, Chinese four character sayings. There are hundreds, if not thousands of them, and Chinese kids learn them in school, but they`re not necessary in everyday Chinese, so as a foreigner you mostly only know a few, if any. Still was a lot of fun, as they performed wery lively. Although most of the time I had no idea what they performed.

 This liveliness and action went on as we started playing "chocolate eating" - a game I´ve played last when I was a child, but as our Chinese guests haven`t had heard of it, it was time to refresh some childhood memories. For anybody not knowing the rules, they´re simple. You wrap a chocolate in several layers of newspaper. Goal is to eat as much of that chocolate as possible. You roll a dice. If you don`t roll a six, you pass on. If you roll a six, you can start unwrapping and eating the chocolate until the next person rolls a six. Of course you have to be fully equipped for chocolate eating - by putting on a winter cap, a scarf, and gloves. And you have to unwrap and eat the chocolate with fork and knife.....

It was a great success, as was the whole evening who went on for a couple of hours more with more games,games,games, later on also inluding loads of beer. We got so much out of it, co-workers became friends, we had tons of fun and everybody got opportunities to improve the languages they`re learning. Christmas 2011 is over, but it was an awesome one - the memories will stick.

Sonntag, 18. Dezember 2011

Defend to walk down sincerely....

I would have liked to do this very much, but somebody must have already taken it away. Thank god there were stairs, too....... (click on pictures to enlarge them)

 Actually, the english translation is, except for the grammatical order, not THAT wrong as the character 梯 (tī) can have the meanings ladder, steps, stairs. And are in exactly that order to be found in the dictionary....

Please defend to pick sincerely - picking hypocritical, on the other hand, won`t be tolerated.

Well, the Chinese says something like "cautiously prevent getting robbed". Pretty close. Funniest "translation" of "Beware of pickpockets" I´ve seen so far.

Freitag, 9. Dezember 2011

Prepared for everything.

Finally fully equipped Shenyang style for a long hard winter. Or street riots - whatever comes first.

(not in the picture: my long johns)

Mittwoch, 7. Dezember 2011

Does it smell funny in here?

 O.k., I admit it, you need to go a pretty long way over two languages to connect those two pictures thematically, but as we "dschörmans" are almost all bilingual, it should work.

The pictures show the fronts of little clothes stores in my neighbourhood.

For all those who can`t speak German - "Furze" is the imperative of the verb "furzen", which means "to fart".

 I don`t blame the first shop because in north-east China it`s not really necessary to speak German at all (except maybe you work for BMW) and actually "furze" in English seems to be an alternate expression for gorse. In the UK they even name schools after it:

 the meaning in german being "fart flat senior school".

Wouldn`t send my children there.......

and still wondering  about why the second store gave itself this name.

An explanation might be that the Chinese owners mistranslated the character 味 (wèi) as it can have the meanings flavor, taste, fragrant or sometimes smell to choose from.

And they chose wrong......

Sonntag, 4. Dezember 2011

In winter, everybody can be Jesus.

 Last week I strolled through one of Shenyang`s bigger parks, namely the "Olympia Park". It`s down at the Hun River that`s crossing the city in the south.

When I arrived at the river bank what I saw surprised me and made me happy as a child at the same time - as what I saw I`ve seen the last time when I was exactly that, a little child.
A huge river, almost completely frozen. With ice thick enough for carrying a person and a vehicle crossing the river. At the beginning of December.

Had to think way back to remember a winter in Germany where it was possible to completely cross a river on ice.
  And I was sceptical at first. But after having seen the dude on the third picture and the bike on the second one, as well as having remembered temperatures having been below zero the whole week and having hit -10°C exactly that day, I dared to walk on the river for a while, as you can see on the last picture.

You can easily recognize me by wearing bell-bottoms.

VERY uncommon in China...

(Click on pictures to enlarge them)