353: This number is one of the first things I see when I descend into the subway each morning; It is the number of days before the start of the Asian Games in Guangzhou. I arrived at 363 and thus it gives a me an in-your-face reminder every morning of the time as it passes. Ten days it has been and ten days that have been crawling by regardless of happiness and frustration.
Yesterday, I would have begged for euthanasia to escape from the bureaucratic hoops to be leaped through to become a resident worker. It all seems so needless really but then I'm obviously oblivious to the benefits of the system of forms, of going from one small office to another, of photocopying and of Chinese triplicate (not real triplicate, because you have to do the same form more than three times).
But now with most of the process done, I'm on the verge of moving into my new apartment and settling down properly. Once there I can buy a pantry worth of food and spices; I can invite people over (my current room is no good for guests); and I can walk to work in 10 minutes. I can't wait to get over that line. My landlord seems a good man (that being said, I thought my last landlord in NZ would be decent when I first met her) and has been very patient and helpful as we went through the steps.
I've got a Cantonese teacher now and after one lesson, boy does my head hurt. I think I'll have a ferocious learning curve ahead of me but will hopefully get the hang of it soon. By the end of it, a reasonably spoken sentence would half stick and half go astray. The most peculiar thing is that after chatting in Cantonese, Mandarin seems so, so easy. It is as if the brain turbo-charges to cope with the Cantonese so that when the Mandarin comes it is even easier than usual.
Real work is about to begin! My flurry of blogs may be about to cease. While I was dropping some documents into my school's head office in the north, one of the teacher liaisons came up to me and suggested I be head of the social committee for my school and around for Guangzhou. I suddenly thought of the shock of a full schedule, my obsession with language, my move and suddenly I felt I was rather not feeling like it. But we'll see...