just rambling again

July 8th, 2008

It’s been an odd day, but a strangely odd day.

First up, the inspectors the gas company decided should inspect the gas appliances in all the apartments in our area didn’t show up. On the way out to lunch, that notice was covered with another saying the higher-ups had ordered them on to something else. Aha. Right. Whatever.

Instead of gas company inspectors we had labourers on the small verandahs over each doorway removing the decorative tile in the crudest way possible- with a hammer, sending cascades of broken tile onto the pavement below. To be fair, they had a guy standing opposite apparently- hopefully- watching to warn anybody trying to get out of the building. And they made sure all bicycles were out of the way then swept the tile up into neat piles afterwards.

But those verandahs are very small and didn’t have much of this decorative tile on them, and each one was finished off in a matter of minutes. Now they’re working on the similar but much larger expanses of decorative tile on the roof, and that’s taking a lot more time. They’ve been going for an hour or two now, and have only moved from that above Door 6 to, well, directly above me- the area over Door 5 (we’ve only moved 20 or 30 metres as the crow would fly if there weren’t so many concrete walls in the way). And the rather crude methodology is sending cascades of broken tile falling six storeys to the pavement below at exactly the time when people would be getting back from work or heading out for dinner or evening strolls. Speaking of…. lzh should be getting back from work any time now, and they’re still smashing tile less than ten metres from my head, and directly above the doorway she will need to get through.

To be fair, I can’t think of any better way to do this particular job, and no matter what you do, it will be irritating for bystanders. But I can think of better times for it.

Anyway, at midday-ish I waited until the labourers had packed up and headed off for lunch then ducked round to the BeiGongDa muslim restaurant. Well, it’s a favourite, and I hadn’t been there since late last week, so…. But now they have completely new menus. New, bilingual menus whose English would seem to have come from that new official menu translation. Well, I don’t know for sure the source of the English translations on that particular menu, but they stood out- and not because they were so laughably bad or printed in larger, bolder type.

Nope. They stood out because they were so good and clear and concise. Brilliantly done, if I may say so, having only skimmed through one restaurant’s new menu in search of lunch.

Well, that’s about all I can say about it, really. Like I said, I just skimmed through in search of lunch. But, although I ordered in Chinese (it’s the same old monolingual staff, and just talking to them is always a more efficient method than point-and-click), I did note the English translations and they were very good. And, as has already been reported (see that link above to an earlier post on the official menu translations), they really did render 宫爆鸡丁 as Kung Pao Chicken. And 鱼香 as “Yu Shiang”, which at first this pedant found irritating, but has to admit is much, much friendlier to tourists unfamiliar with Chinese pronunciation in general and the intricacies of hanyu pinyin in particular. And 左宗棠鸡丁 as General Tsuo’s Chicken.

Uh, yeah, for some reason- I guess the proximity of the Foreign Students’ Dorm might help explain things- our campus muslim restaurant has had a presumably halal version of that American dish on its menu for quite some time. Alright, so the story I’ve heard does give the General’s chicken a bit of a Hunan pedigree, but even so…. And I guess the Tsuo instead of what I believe is the usual Tso is either a misprint or a hashing of Romanisations.

So, if any American’s out there miss their General Tso’s Chicken, let me know, and I’ll take you over to our friendly campus muslim restaurant. Bear in mind that being a Kiwi I have no idea what General Tso’s Chicken is supposed to look or taste like and I’ve never tried ordering that particular item on their menu, but I’m willing to show you the way and let you be the judge.

And I spent considerably longer than I expected cleaning out our old place. Holy shit, the amount of dust, dirt, filth and waste I cleaned out was simply disgraceful! We are going to have to make a few lifestyle changes this coming academic year. And now that the labourers outside have stopped and we can venture outside with no more than the usual risk of a tile falling on our heads, we should probably get back over there and finish the job off. The sooner it’s done, the sooner we can settle in to the long, hot summer I’m sure it’s going to be.

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