I have been binge-listening to an old song by T’Pau, a lovely singer from the 80’s, called “China in your hand”. You can find the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfvJS4UO7xI

It seems like my brain has a switch where there’s only two operation modes to choose from: internalising and externalising. Internalising in this case means “taking in”, processing experiences and impressions inwardly and storing them in a labyrinth-like mental archive. In other words, not generating anything outwardly evident, such as blog entries. With the switch in this position, it is very difficult to verbalise any of these impressions. Externalising in this case means “generating outwards”, pouring out random ideas, conclusions on unsuspecting victims(?) such as family members/friends/acquaintances/animals/random people or things, outwardly creating logical structures by verbalising things rising up from the subconscious. By default, the switch is set on “externalising”, but here, external factors such as unfamiliar surroundings, new experiences and linguistic structures are constantly forcing the switch to get stuck in the “internalising” position. This explains why there are random bursts of activity (= ~three blog entries published during the same day) followed by periods of inertia. Summa summarum: don’t be alarmed if there’s a seemingly inactive period where no new entries are being posted. The work is ongoing, it just can’t be observed externally. Things learned:

  1. Chinese babies don’t wear diapers. Their trousers are cut open in the middle, allowing them to squat at any time in the nearest flowerbed.
  2. Chinese parents don’t use strollers. To date, I haven’t seen one stroller in the street in the whole country. They use a sort of wrapped cloth to keep the baby close to their bodies.
  3. There’s a map available online updated by International SOS called “Travel Risk Map”. It’s very handy for travellers calculating the risks of going to a certain part of the world. Here it is: https://www.internationalsos.com/risk-outlook

I’m going to show you the campus in this post. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them. The plum blossom season has recently ended, and the cherry trees are waiting for their turn. I spotted some early bloomers when I was out with Wen and her daughter, 二向箔一. She doesn’t have a Western name, and the way she calls herself is frisky. Check out the translation. She’s a computer scientist too, and we tend to have a statistically somewhat deviant sense of humour. She belongs to the same category as my other friend, whose name when pronounced sounds like “an assassination invasion”. My Chinese name suggested by my teacher, 明灵 — Míng Líng — means approximately “shining soul”. Raju, my friend from Nepal told me that in Hindi, “Mili” means that something that had been lost for a long time has been found. Sounds nice enough, and in several languages!

There is an art gallery on campus called Wan Lin Art Museum, named after the revolutionary billionaire who donated the museum to the university. On the roof of the gallery, there is a scenic spot where you can see the whole campus from all directions. I’m determined to speak Mandarin fluently at the end of the summer. The Wuhan University Library and its surroundings certainly raise my motivation to study the language and culture further. A friend of Wen’s is working as the principal director of the library — a tiny woman, like Wen herself. I bear a bit of likeness to a Germanic Goliath standing next to her, with her forehead at my shoulder level. 😀

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Close enough. I guess part of Russia counts as Europe for the Chinese.

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Tomorrow at half past nine (3.30am at home) I’ll have an interesting lecture about ad hoc networks. The lecturer is my friend’s (= Wen’s daughter’s) thesis supervisor, and I’ll see her there tomorrow. From time to time, it’s nice to be occupied with something you can relate to academically.

Mili

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