I have an irritating circadian rhythm. For some reason, the post-prandial dip, or whatever that feeling of drowsiness that generally hits you after lunch each day is supposed to be called, hits me at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, an hour or two later than it should, and a time most unsuited to working as a teacher. Or working as anything, I guess. So yes, somehow my body functions in the timezone Kashgar would have if there were any logic to the regulations governing timezones in China. I assume that if I tried to solve this problem by moving to Kashgar, two things would happen: lzh would be very angry; and my body would adjust its irritating circadian rhythm to something more suited to Tehran.

In other, and equally fascinating, news: lzh and I had dinner with one of my classes last night. Actually, that was a good time. Left me feeling a bit headachy this morning, so it must’ve been good. And considering the sorry states some of my students were in as they stumbled back to their dorms last night, I’m wondering just how many of them made it to class this morning, or how many will make it to class this afternoon.

It all started with a barbeque. Blame the barbeque. I mean the thing that my Texan colleague insists on calling a “barbeque pit” even though it is a metal contraption that looks nothing like a hole in the ground. Actually, the first time I heard the Texan say “barbeque pit” I thought he was talking about some kind of Texan version of a hangi, but no, he calls every kind of contraption used for barbequing a “pit”. Anyway, blame the barbeque. This particular class, the one that took lzh and I to dinner last night, is about to end. One more week and they’re out of here. Yesterday afternoon I suggested perhaps shifting the lesson to the wee garden outside the Texan’s apartement. No, it’s not the Texan’s garden. The building housing the Texan’s apartment also has a currently vacant apartment for a third foreign teacher, so the garden is a communal area. Well, the class in the garden idea didn’t go down so well. Such things require either two or more teachers so the class can split into smaller groups, or fewer students so there’s no need to split into smaller groups. But the students spied the barbeque sitting there waiting to be fired up and cooked on and remembered my promise of a barbeque sometime before they left.

So class was shifted back into the classroom, and we then spent some time discussing how, and when and where, to have a barbeque. Because I prefer not to blog about work, and the discussion was actually pretty boring and in any case is not overly relevant or necessary for this little ramble, I’ll spare you the details: We concluded that the “barbecue” would be held “Tonight, 6:30, the little restaurant next to A Bao’s” and that The Monitor would go early to make the necessary arrangements for a group of 18.

So lzh got home from work, she rested and we discussed my shitty work situation (which will hopefully soon be resolved), then just after 6:30 we wandered down to find my students. They were, unfortunately, still in the process of setting up tables and stools, buying drinks from A Bao, and ordering food from the restaurant.  But it didn’t take too long to sort things out, and then we were sat around a group of tables, kebabs, beer and soft drinks arrived, and the fesitivities were under way.

I think we were probably the last customers there. The staff were packing up around us long before we left. The boss had to ask us to be quiet- we were sitting outside, and there’s a residential building next to the restaurant. Anyway, it was a great time, in the best of Chinese traditions, hence the noise. And the students got a great kick out of lzh telling them all the stories about me…..

Like about how I walk too quietly, and so when she’s cooking and focussed on cooking, and I walk into the kitchen too quietly, I scare her (actually, it’s pretty funny- she leaps about 3 metres into the air screaming at the top of her lungs then yells at me for scaring her. No, I do not do this deliberately), and so one time after she’d finished leaping 3 metres into the air, screaming and yelling at me, I said “对啊,我是洋鬼å­?。(Yes, I’m a Western ghost)”, and since then every time she’s cooking and I walk into the kitchen, I yell out “大家å°?心ï¼?洋鬼å­?æ?¥äº†ï¼?(Everybody be careful! The Western ghost is coming!)”

I decided to translate  “洋鬼å­?” as “Western ghost” instead of the usual “foreign devil” because the æ´‹ refers to Westerners, not all foreigners, and ghost just seems a little more appropriate in the circumstances I described.

And because if you’ve read this far, especially if you’re a regular reader of this blog (don’t laugh, such people do exist), you obviously like several disconnected and thoroughly disjointed stories thrown together as if they have something in common: Our (ex-?) neighbour’s cat has adopted us. Dammit!

A (ex-?) colleague disappeared off to Ohio at New Year to sort some things out over there and hasn’t come back, despite promising he should be back in only two or three months and even though his wife is still here (but living in one of the neighbourhood guest houses/招待所 instead of the apartment the school had supplied- hence the empty apartment down by the garden). She also disappeared over Spring Festival leaving us temporarily in charge of their cat and his girlfriend who had adopted their neighbours (the predecessors of Mr and Mrs Texan) and then been left behind when they moved out. Anyway, Mrs Ohio came back after Spring Festival and took charge of the cats again, letting us off the hook. But her cat, for whatever reason, has lost a hell of a lot of weight, and developed this irritating habit of chasing after and crying out at lzh and I every time he saw us, knowing that we’d get him some food. This habit has of late developed into the even more irritating form of walking into the building and crying out for us to feed him. He’s even been known to come up to our floor, although he fortunately has not yet figured out which door is ours.

Well, we have a stash of cat food, and neither of us likes to see animals mistreated or suffering (not accusing Mrs Ohio of anything- she insists she is feeding the cats and we have no reason to doubt her), so we do feed him. But it is irritating.

What’s worse is that both this cat and his girlfriend were originally strays who adopted the foreign teachers and then became thoroughly tamed.

What’s even worse is that this couple is even more productive than that pair of horny British teenagers I blogged about this morning. As if this area does not already have enough stray cats (another reason this small corner of Beijing is subtly abnormal).

But it seems somebody in this school has decided to do his or her bit to keep the cat population in check. This pair of laowai adopting cats had a litter over the winter. The Texan heard the kittens crying for a few days, and then mysterious silence. We only found out about this when the cleaner told us the kittens had frozen to death (we’d been putting food out daily, but the cats hadn’t been around- presumably she’d found herself a secret, safe place to give birth, as cats are wont to do). Then there was another litter born just a week or so ago. Once again, all was well for a few days, and then the kittens mysteriously disappeared. It’s the kind of thing that almost manages to inspire one to write a children’s detective novel.

And just for the sake of adding one more random, disconnected, disjointed thing: The summer weather patterns continue. Fortunately the real mid-summer blast-furnace heat is still holding off, but the weather patterns are here. It was thundering and threatening rain just a few minutes ago, like one of those short, sharp summer storms was on its way. It seems the storm passed us by. Well, Beijing is sprawled enough that different parts of the city can and do experience completely different weather, and that parts in between get to watch the ragged edges of each kind of weather passing by.

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