I should have known last Tuesday: the clapping girl outside the fashion shop had lost her mojo, and I was half-way to losing mine. She had been paid to clap all day long to create an atmosphere conducive to sales, but her listless, arrhythmic beat would only be able to scare away the pigeons, if there had been pigeons. Me? I'd sustained a packed working week before launching myself headlong to Fuzhou and back in a busy three days off to see a friend, and then I was back at work, bleary-eyed staring at the clapping girl staring at me. I marched on to get a hot chocolate at a rather neat cafe, but the writing was on the wall: My immune system had sustained a hit; I had a cold, sniffle; and I was going to be out of order for a wee while. I struggled through Tuesday, slept through Wednesday on my first sick leave; and the was launched down to Shenzhen for training, heavily drugged, for Thursday and Friday. That all didn't mean that I didn't ace the test at the end of the training but by the end of it all I was as sick as when I had started and back at work, without a semblance of working order. In such situations, the body is great; it secretes adrenalin; I act nuts; the students smile; class dismissed; let me collapse on my desk.
Now, I'm back on the verge of health and ahead of me is a nice period: Despite the sickness and the medication, the bootcamp in Shenzhen was rather inspiring: I've been given a boot (in the arse) forward. I think my teaching is already exhibiting a sharpness it didn't have before the training. Ahead of me is Chinese New Year, where not only will I have a chance to taste the sweet nectar of travel, but also do what I want to do: study! Since finishing my first novel in Chinese since arriving, I have got a third of the way through another. I have a colleague who is rather dedicated to teaching me Cantonese. (She plopped herself down to be last week and declared we were going to speak Cantonese and used the same methods she'd use to teacher her super-beginner students; for the first two students it was painful listening and then sudddenly I could understand, intuitively everything she said. Cantonese is fun.) Ah, sickness sucks, but life can be nice too.
All this should not miss what happened before the cold struck: I landed in the city of Fuzhou, home to a high school friend of mine. The nature of China, Chinese culture and the vicissitudes of life abroad came floating to the surface. It is interesting where your thoughts lead you. I'm yet to understand what I think of all that I heard and felt.