perjantai 20. marraskuuta 2009

I am...

flying!! Finnair's pilot strike was over just in time from my perspective. They had just enough time to fly the plane from Helsinki to Shanghai, to take me from Shanghai to Europe.

I had a back-up plan, though. Or two. Or something. I lost count. You see, as these were my flights on Wednesday afternoon as I tried to check-in on-line. Whew! Were I gonna be busy taking all these flights within just 2 days...

Thankfully, they only made me take one of them. I happened to pick the one which was 6 hours delayed. But, all is well when end is well. And end is well. So all is well.

maanantai 16. marraskuuta 2009

Mr. President

Obama arrived in Shanghai late Sunday night, his first visit to China since elected as president.

Today he will visit the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in the afternoon, to meet young Chinese and answer some questions. I am not Chinese, and I am not sure I am that young anymore either, but I would have been there to see him, had I been in Shanghai. I would have taken a half a day off and welcomed him to Shanghai. With the bad weather and all, I am sure he would have appreciated a friendly face in the audience. It would have also been interesting to see how the masses behave: according to the newspapers many people are enthusiastically waiting to see this "Change"-man.

Sadly, I am at the mill, and Mr. Obama will continue his way to Beijing already late this afternoon. Had he contacted me during the planning, I could have ensured him that Shanghai is actually much more interesting than Beijing.

perjantai 13. marraskuuta 2009


I guess every foreigner living in China has heard the joke about Chinese president? You know when you ask your friend, preferably a non-chinese, and not living in China: "Who is the president of China?" And when he says "I have no idea" you say: "No, I said Hu is the president of China." Chinese President is, indeed Hu (or who), Hu Jintao. It works the other way around, too. Someone asks you, "Who is the president of China?" And naturally you say:"Yes."

Ok, this may seem like a silly thing. You may think that you wouldn't find it amusing. But when it happens in real life, with no bun intended, I can't help but to crack. Trust me, you would, too.

I had three cases like this, during the week.

Who will be in that meeting? I ask from an invoice handler on Wednesday. "Yes, I think she will." She says. "Yes, but who will be in the meeting?" I try again. "Yes." She looks at me like I am a little slow, propably wondering why on earth they sent such dork from Europe to here. What use can she be?

Another day, another meeting. "And who is responsible for keeping these documens?" I inquire. "No no no, Hu has nothing to do with this process." the controller quickly answers. I try to hide my grin. "Alright, but whoooooo does handle these documents?"

Yet another meeting. "Is everyone here already, can we start?" Asks my colleague from Finland. "Hu is missing." someone says. "Can someone tell me if someone is still coming?"A collague visiting from Finland doesn't realize what is going on. "Hu should still come." someone says. "Who is still coming?" (Hu arrives.) "Hu is here" somesays. It has been rather hectic two weeks, and I could not but crack up. Call me childish. I don't care.

By the way, it is freeeezing here. The meter shows + 8, forecast says +7, feels like +3, and I swear it feels like -3. It's the quick changes, from +20 to this! I can't keep up!

tiistai 10. marraskuuta 2009

Pure water

There are few as important things in the world as pure water. I really, really have learned to appreciate it here, where the tap water smells like... And never mind the smell, I have heard from several sources it contains traces of heavy metal. Thus, in my books, it is totally and completely non-drinkable.
I know the locals drink it. They either boil it, or use some sort of purifying filters. I don't know one single laowai who drinks tap water around here. (Well, except those whose kids made them coffee every weekend from the tap water, untill the parents noted what was happening.) But this all means you have to order 5 or 10 liter bottles of water, and make sure you don't run out water. I am not complaining: I don't have to carry the water from a dwell 20 kilometers away, so all is well. Someone will carry it for me. Not from a well, but from a supermarket, or from the house management office. But then there is always the small question mark, whether it is really pure water, or is someone making "fake" bottled water from the tap water... But let's not get in to that.

Our house management decided to make our life easier, though. They recently installed a box like this to every apartment:

"Safe Clean Fresh Water"
Now, I don't know exactly how a machine like that works, but I know it uses infrared to purify the water. Great. I just don't believe infrared does anything to the heavy metal traces. I am not sure, I haven't looked it up, but it just doesn't sound plausible. I am an auditor. I need to doubt things. (I also should investigate and verify things before making accusisations, but this is my free-time, so I can do whatever I want. I can doubt "Pentair" all I want, and never bother to check if I'm right or not. It is not nice to notice you are wrong, and if you don't check, you will never know. And all is well.)
But even it would work, there are some other issues with the machine. I have already too little cupboard space in the kitchen. The kitchen has been designed by someone who does not cook. Someone who doesn't understand I would like to keep the tabletops empty. The kitchen itself is roomy, but there is very little place to keep dishes and things. And now this box is steeling one more whole cupboard from me.
Secondly: it only can store 250 ml of water. Convenient, dontcha think? It takes about 25 minutes to purify that amount. So if I want to, say, cook some pasta and need 750 ml of water, it'll take me a whole hour to get that. Assuming I have not used the water for anything else just before I start cooking.
Thirdly, unfortunately the infrared system heats the water to be about +35 celcius warm. Which is sligthly less than body temperature. Now, I am all for drinking room temperature water (An average Chinese does not drink cold drinks in the autumn, winter or spring. Ladies should never drink cold drinks, just so you know. Not good for the stomach.) But +35? It is not warm enough to use for tea, but it is way too warm to drink. Waaay too warm. Try it if you don't believe me.
So, could someone please tell me why was that machine ever created? And why was it brought to my kitchen?

maanantai 9. marraskuuta 2009

My favourite time of the year!

No, I certainly don't mean the dark, grey, rainy season North Europe and Finland is going through at this time of the year. We, on the other hand, have mostly had nice +20-+25 degrees, except last Monday, when the temperatures suddenly dropped to +4. I almost froze to death! Really, ask my colleagues if you don't believe me. I could hardly function for two days.

Anyway, what I wanted to tell you is this: Christmas is JUST around the corner, because they have already set up the decorations. So it is almost Christmas! Has to be!

And that is my favorite time of the year. House full of guests, delicious foods and treats, candles, fire in the fire places, and, I dare to hope, snow!

I am going home for Christmas. This is how home looked like when I was there last time: beautiful, crispy autumn days.

Maybe it is autumn that is my favorite time of the year?

This view just makes me feel happy... And peaceful. That's just the way it is.
But autumn is gone, and Christmas is coming, so back to loving Christmas!

Oh and these guys! They make wanna run to Finland right now. But that's ok, 'cause Christmas is just around the corner.

lauantai 7. marraskuuta 2009


The other night I was coming back from the super-market when I saw a cat. Or a kitten, really. It was small enough to sit on a palm of a grown man. And it was meowing ruefully. Truly a kitten in despair.

The kitten was sitting in a small area of bushes and flowers between a mall and two big road. I had no idea how it had gotten there.

Some people stopped, and tried to give her (no, I really don't know, but I decided it was a girl) some food. Someone even tried to catch her, but she dove to the bushes and avoided such attempts. And then slowly came back, meowing oh so sadly.

I am not a cat person, by any means, but I am an animal person. I had to help the poor animal. I coud hear J. or my mom saying "do not touch that animal" or "you don't know which deceases it carries". Luckily, neither of them was really there, so I was free to help the little girl. But I needed an action plan. I went back to home, grapped gloves, some cat food*, and a bag where I figured I could put the cat into, and then carry her to our yard, where other cats might help her. I wasn't sure about that part: I have no experience of how cats welcome a stranger-kitten to their pack.

* No, you may wonder why I have cat food, since I don't have a cat? Well, there are several cats living in our yard. Many people feed them. I am not a frequent feeder, but on my way to the gym I check their status every now and then, and if there is a need, I bring them food. Or if they have kittens. So, I may not always have leftovers passable to cats, so I need cat food.

So, I had my equipment, and I returned to the cat. It was still there. There was actually a pile of cat food there, but she didn't even touch it. Well, I had brough some Whiskas with me, and I started tossing, very gently, piece by piece, the kitten with the food. And she started eating. Small piece by small piece. Slowly. And I tossed her a new grain. So we went for maybe 10 grains, and then she was content. She run to drink some water (water from where, I wonder, it hadn't rained in few days) from the ground. And she was like a new person alltogether. No more rueful meows, no more hunching in the smallest of the smallest crouches. Tail up and ready for anything that might come.

She pondered for a moment what to do with her life. And run of. And I never saw her again.

She run on this pole and disappeared into the horizon.

Be well, my friend. Be well.