Everyday Life

I sit here writing with a VERY full stomach because I’ve just been stuffed to the gills with Jiaozi (dumplings) and fruit by my neighbor downstairs (this happened after I’d already eaten lunch, but I couldn’t refuse…). She is one of Leo’s many good friends, and we don’t pass by her place often without taking a piece of fruit or a little toy home with us. She also happens to be a chef (lucky us!). Our nanny brings Leo down to her place to visit every once in a while, and I have the sinking suspicion that she’s told them we don’t cook (which right now is basically true – things being as busy as they are and food being as cheap as it is, we eat out rather often during the school term to save time). I think our neighbors and our ayi feel like they need to take care of us ‘poor kids’ right now because gifts of food have suddenly become rather frequent. Our Ayi made us lunch once last week without us asking, and our other neighbor brought us some big giant stuffed dumplings last week as well. I now have a pile of beautiful homemade jiaozi in my fridge ready to be warmed up and eaten. I have no idea how to repay all this kindness!

We had quite a conversation about why our parents aren’t here living with us and helping out. I explained that it’s just not the custom, although we’d welcome their presence if they wanted to come. I didn’t even go into how many brothers and sisters we each have, because it’s just such shocking news here sometimes! She then gave me instructions about how to feed Leo and proceeded to give me some food that she had bought for him. I invited her to come over for tea, and I’m sure she will. She’s a delightful neighbor and Leo gets a HUGE kick out of her. It took me 45 minutes to calm him down for a nap after our visit!

Our neighbors and the shopkeepers in our neighborhood have generally accepted that we are going to be here for a while. I have to plan extra time for errands because we make many stops along the way, chatting with different shopkeepers and bosses, security guards and merchants, neighbors, and old ladies taking walks.

Classes are going well, and we continue to learn much, especially from our mistakes. My latest gaffe was to proclaim, “Women only have to start smoking cigarettes, and then they will become pregnant.” Thankfully, I was only with my good friend and tutor, and after she stopped laughing at me, she corrected my faulty speech.


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October 2008
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