Friday, February 18, 2005
Now let me tell you about swimming laps in China. There is an indoor pool here (obviously. An outdoor pool here would be an ice rink right now.) and for the first time in maybe 10 years I swam laps. Not pretty. My swimming skills are quite decrepit at this juncture in life but I need some exercise at this point. Very badly. My feeble attempt at swimming garnered me some laughter and meekedness. Swim caps are all the rage here (though chlorine and showering before entering the pool are not. Hence slicked water is ok as long as it's hairless. Like the Chinese) and I made it one lap before the counter lady made a diving tackle on me and stuffed my hair (of which I have a tremendous amount at this point) into one. My attempt to start up again was slowed by a hand grabbing my shorts and rapid shouting in Chinese. I followed my standard MO and ignored it and tried to go about my business. So she grabbed my sis (who was now 45 laps into her workout) and said I had to wear a swimming suit. I was. But unlike the approved apparel here, they are not speedo-ish. Sis explained and everyone laughed. Except me (I was still waiting for the translation). Finally I began my workout. Soon after I left the pool to showered and get dressed. My lap count will remain a mystery but we'll say it was respectable. My sister, on the other hand, swam 4,679 laps. Doh!
Now hang on a second, I'm not done. It's time to describe the Chinese version of swimming laps (at this pool anyway). Some of this I witnessed, the rest was described to me by an english speaker who tells stories much like I do (sister). There was a man in the pool (yes, he swam for a longer period of time than me but at the speed of oatmeal flowing...downhill) swimming sometimes circles, sometimes squares, sometimes randomly about. Very bizarre. The tales I've been forced to listen to endless times tell of people who swim crossways, hitting every swimmer complying with standard lap protocol. This pool also has the kissing couple-they don't swim laps. The pool is an erotic sort of foreplay for them as they mill about the pool making out.
Hehe. Do you want to hear the best story though? It involves neither swimming pools nor incest. But it slays me. My tale takes place in the roller rink. Young and medium Chinese folk skate around, some good some horrific. Some skate forward, some backward. What do they have in common? They all skate facing the same direction......(wait for it).... Yup. People skating backward are heading toward people skating forward. My sis asked them about this, wondering if they saw the inherent potential for pain (and dramatic comedy). The response: "But, we're all facing the same direction!" Yes, people collide. KILLS me!
Which leads me to this-once I am elsewhere, I will speak more on things such as the Chinese educational system (as it is out here) based on my observations and tales I've been told.