It's occurred to me that most of one's life as an expat in a radically different culture to your own is spent floating. Unless you're totally assimilated, and fluent in the language, you float around - in my case a bit like a happy toddler - not really knowing what's going on: constantly understanding about 50 per cent of the conversations you're having or hearing, mostly now knowing what that place does or what that sign means.
Sometimes the signs are in English, and you still don't have much of a clue ...
Our compound can be a lively place.
|Come to think of it, I did hear a bit of a bang the other night.|
Speaking of angles and arcs in our compound, I came across this advertisement in the lift. It's for plastic surgery, which in newly moneyed urban China is a growth industry like loony ranting is a growth industry in North Korea.
They used to say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thank heavens some Chinese plastic surgeons have taken that nonsense out of the equation, to tell us finally what beautiful is. Now, it's all a matter of degrees.
My feminist sensibilities duly offended, I hastened back home where my latest copy of Women Of China, had arrived, featuring on its cover the powerful and inspirational Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping.
But then on opening up on page two, I was hit with another advertisement targeted at modern, powerful women, again from our friends at the carpentry shop ...
|For all those women out there whose jawlines do not|
achieve the optimum beauty angle of 116 degrees,
kindly hide your hideously shaped faces indoors
until you sort that shit out. It's just not fair on we men
that we should have to look at you.
Where does it all get to if we are able to blueprint beauty and graph gorgeousness to such an extent? Do we actually still need skin?
Look at this bunch of good sorts.
If I were gay I'd take little Ralf Hutter.
Check the hypotenuse on that guy!
|What the hell is this?! It's at Shanghai|
International Airport. Can't we men have
a wee while waiting for a flight without
getting a creeping feeling we're about to be
accosted by some casual slipper-wearing lurker?
|Are they taking the piss?|
They call it public (toilet) art. I just thought it was this guy again ...
|A sort of "Flat Stanley the Pervert"?|
For toilet installations, you just can't beat these, which I found at Beijing's new Great Leap beer house in San Li Tun ...
They're something redolent of Beijing - bicycle seats.
Need more explanation? Remember it's a pub, where men can get a little tired over the course of a night ...
|Eat your heart out, Sliced Bread.|
Speaking of perverts, who's this guy getting around with a bra cup over his mouth and nose?
|He would have us believe it's a home-made|
pollution mask. But maybe, this being
China, it's main function is as padding
to protect him from facial injury in
There was another art installation on the streets of Chongqing, lifesize statues of people going about their business. Then of course someone had to go and do this and get on the internet.
Better still were these real-life women on the streets outside the Forbidden City.
|Usually, photos of young women outside|
the Forbidden City look like this.
And even then the guards look on
But they didn't know quite what to do with these two ...
|The guard's been thrown for a loop. He'd thought lesbianism|
had been banned with all other forms of fun in 1949.
|"Shall we stop them, Sarge?"|
"Aaaah ... no Li. Let's just ... let's just wait a bit."
Also seen, literally, on the streets of Beijing ...
|He just wants to be alone.|
Amid some warmer weather, the swimmers have come back to our neighborhood canal.
As has the green slime.
And the T-shirts keep coming ...
Then there's been more of this - domestic helpers, or ayis, posting notices in expat shops looking for work. Here's one I showed earlier ...
It's in line with the theory that you should start with something positive, some praise or honorific for your potential employer, for example.
|This one's aiming high.|
Has this Michelle Obama adulation even reached China?
And this ayi (which means 'aunt' in Chinese) appears to be dangling the carrot of bringing her boss happiness as often as every 30 minutes, though she admits later she can be frustrating at times.
Back on the street ...
|... provided you don't want to pay money to|
do it properly.
|Then again, there's little you can't achieve with|
a small car, willpower and sticky-tape.
Thanks for clicking, clickers. We'll be all aboard for another instalment on Monday!