What can I say about these two events? I suppose if I was going to sum them up in one word each, America Day would be “adorable” and Auchan would be “overwhelming.”
America Day consisted of visiting a school and teaching a group of 20 enthusiastic Chinese 4th-6th graders to play an assortment of American games. We started with Duck, Duck, Goose, which we played in Chinese (making it Ya zi, Ya zi, E 鸭子，鸭子，鹅 …and the “E” is pronounced like “uh”). Then we moved on to Simon Says (which in Chinese is called Teacher Says; Students Do). We played that in English, writing the translations of our pre-determined verbs on the blackboard. We used simple verbs such as “jump,” “sit,” and “dance.” Next, we went outside and played Red Light, Green Light, which I think they liked the best because they didn’t want to go back inside when we told them to. We also played freeze tag and Telephone, and I think one other game that I’m forgetting. I’m not usually a kid person, but it was really cute and actually kind of fun.
And Auchan, oh my. In retrospect, it’s not that frightening; I’ve been to places like it before. The reason I felt so overwhelmed at the time was that it’s called a SUPERMARKET. So, when my host sister told me that after dinner we were going to go to the Auchan supermarket, I was expecting just that: a supermarket. You know, something like Wal-Mart or Target or Costco. I was expecting it to be big because I had heard of Auchan and knew it wasn’t a little corner store… But what I THOUGHT I was going to get was a SUPERMARKET, not a shopping mall! Now, I’ll say here that I’m not 100% certain that the ENTIRE thing was actually the Auchan supermarket, but the main sign on the Ikea-sized building clearly stated “Auchan,” and so like I said, I wasn’t prepared to find anything inside other than supermarket. But, when we walked in, we found three floors worth of electronics stores, beauty supply stores, sporting goods stores, clothing stores, and restaurants, among other things, with the main supermarket part on the second floor. So the four of us (my host mom, two sisters, and me) headed up to do some grocery shopping. And just like most things in China, it was a crazy mass of people. Young children ride around the store on small motorized toy cars, appearing unsupervised (though their parents were probably close behind). The adults drive their shopping carts rather like they drive their cars, backing up, turning, and squeezing through tight spaces with little regard for others, who must look out for themselves. And the meat market, well, in America, the FDA would probably see it shut down. Frozen hunks of various types of meat lay in heaps, and the poultry selection hangs by its necks (yes, it’s still in bird form) from wooden beams. Lucky for me, we didn’t need to buy meat that day. I’m a picky eater as it is, and I prefer not to be reminded of where my food comes from.
And the last thing for today, though it has nothing to do with America Day or Auchan, I want to tell you about dinner last night. My family told me that we were going to “出去吃晚饭” (go out to eat dinner), so ok, sounds good. And mostly, it WAS good. But two dishes struck me as memorable. Actually, first, I should quickly explain eating at Chinese restaurants so nobody freaks out TOO much. When you go with a lot of people to a restaurant in China, everyone sits at a big round table with a lazy susan in the middle, and food is for the whole table to share; it’s not one person, one dish like in America. So nothing I’m about to tell you about was served JUST to me. Right, so the two memorable dishes. The first was a pork dish that was served with the pig’s skull on the plate. And just to make it even stranger, half the skull’s jaw was broken off and stuck through the eye socket. I’ve learned to put up with whole fish and whole shrimp, but no matter how many times they told me “好吃，好吃” (It’s good, it’s good), I could bring myself to try only one small piece of it. The second was a bowl of an interesting gelatinous yellow-y substance. Everyone told me “尝尝，尝尝！” (Taste it! Taste it!), so I took a stab in the dark and told them, “I don’t eat tofu.” Apparently, I was wrong, because everybody at the table shouted in unison, “IT’S NOT TOFU!!” and started laughing. They told me it was egg. I still didn’t try it, but I remember it simply because of their response. Lastly, while at dinner, I started doodling on my hand, music notes, hearts, the Chinese words for “music” and “happy,” and the saying, “Without music, life would Bb.” (Music pun: Without music, life would BE FLAT. hehe). The little girls thought it was pretty and insisted that I allow their mother to take a picture and also that I recreate the doodle on a napkin. So, I did, and translated the English for them on the back. It was cute. 🙂