So on first impressions Nanjing doesn’t seem like a raped city. I’ve been here two days and haven’t seen any scars. I have seen four jolly nuns carrying gorceries back to their temple. There is something great about Buddhist nuns. I don’t know what their lives are like in their nunneries or what have you but they seem… this generalization doesn’t work. Why would a nun seem any more happy than anyone else? Shaved head does not equal perfectly enlightened and non-attached. I should know.
But so far the city’s scars haven’t been visible. I’ve never been to a place where horrible things happened before (publicly at least) and I don’t know what I was expecting. Japanese flags underfoot? A Sony boycott? Grim faces scoured deep with hidden knowledge? Whatever that may be I haven’t seen it yet. We haven’t been to the museum/memorial yet though.
Holly’s roommate in their tiny apartment is named Fan Rong (I think. Holly usually calls her Xiao Meng). I’m not a big fan of her. Part of that comes down to the language thing of course. I can’t understand her and she seems to delight in testing me. Yesterday at lunch she was complaining about my chopstick technique, how it wasn’t standard. Holly says this is her being a “product of China.” She knows how things are supposed to be and wants to correct them. The complete lack of that impulse is why I am not a real teacher. She’s “strong” in the Chinese sense meaning “not a frail tiny girl” and may possibly be attracted to Holly, though there’s a boy she likes in Shanghai but it’s all very confusing. Evidently she watches a lot of TV and has annoying habits but Holly finds her to be a very good roommate companion in this city. “Sure it’d be nice if she liked to do interesting things but you can’t have everything.” And that is very true.
Also down at the Zhi Mian office is another volunteer Zhang Guo Xian. He’s small and thin with an utterly standard haircut and hard to understand English (and Chinese sayeth Holly). Yesterday he took us out for a walk to the city wall that is nearby. He sort of got lost but kept chatting all the while. His major in school was biopsychology, which involved electrodes in monkeybrains. Now he is interested in old things he says. He’s lived in Beijing and now Nanjing and spoke highly of Xian.
I find myself wishing people wouldn’t speak English to me because then I have to listen to them. When they’re chatting with Holly in putonghua I get to tune them out and look around. My impatience didn’t come across to Zhang Guo Xian though, as afterwards he told Holly how I was “deeper than the two of us” (meaning Holly and him). That’s quite a first impression to give off. I wonder if I’ll break it in the time I’m here.holly language nanjing the hangman xiao meng zhang guo xian zhi mian