Friday, April 25, 2008

Does your town have a curtain rod district?

To celebrate making my first post in quite some time, I'm going to aim to be only positive for a change.

Today I tried a new route for my walk to school.1 I chose the route because I looked at a map for once and it looked shorter than the one I'd previously taken, but I found it was nicer in other ways, too. Mostly it was just pleasant because it took me past a park and involved somewhat less trafficked roads.

People frequenting parks and quieter streets in the morning can be an amusing sight. The "free spirit" nature of most Chinese people (i.e. lack of self-consciousness) is quite refreshing. Any of the below are likely to fit into many people's morning routine around here:

  • Performing Tai Chi or something approximating it.

  • Walking backwards for some distance.2

  • Visiting an outdoor free gym and using some piece of equipment in whatever way you see fit.

  • Standing anywhere and waving one's hips every which way.

Regular, forward-type walking is allowed, but while doing it you're encouraged to swing your arms. A lot.

Hey, I think it's great that so many people get out and get exercise though, as funny-looking as it is in many of its forms. And heck, these are people who need this activity even less than us Westerners do because the majority of them are still walking or cycling throughout the day just to get around. It seems in the West that if you're not a couch potato you have to be a crazy yoga freak and there's little middle ground. (Yeah, I know that's an over-generalization. I'm just making a point.)

Anyway, on to my walk home from school. Midday reveals different things than the morning.

Chinese cities (in my limited experience) like to group their stores in clusters. For instance, here in Hohhot we have the kitchen supply store district. Then there are at least two substantial strips of bicycle stores around. When I was on the bus to go and deal with my student visa I saw the toilet store part of town. These areas are hard to miss as samples of the wares in question are typically put out on the sidewalk. Well today, I walked past somewhere new:

The curtain rod district!

There were fifteen or twenty such stores all in a row. (Yeah, yeah, they probably sell curtains too, but the rods are what was on display outside.)

Come to think of it, I could do to go back there sometime soon. Our kitchen has no curtain.

Curtain rods!

1After my bike was stolen a while back I decided to see how reasonable it was to walk to school. I've since replaced the bike but since I found that it only takes an hour to get there on foot (compared to twenty minutes riding), it could do me good to walk now and then anyway. Walking has a few benefits: I notice more stuff along the way, I can review my Chinese flashcards while I do it, there's possibly less chance of being in an accident, and it's slightly more exercise.

2I don't necessarily recommend this one. One of Alison's students recently had to (or will soon have to) be treated for a fairly serious head injury incurred while walking or running in reverse. (I think it was part of the PE program at his school.)

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