Maria Holland

Put On Your Dancing Shoes!

In Uncategorized on March 14, 2010 at 1:47 am

This afternoon I joined my friend Liz and her new friend Dani for an adventure towards a shoe repair place.  I had a sinking feeling as soon as I learned the place a) was located by Marco Polo, b) had a business card, and c) was named Luxury Goods Repair, all of which I took as indication that the place would be expensive.

I was right.  They wanted to charge us 270 kuai (almost $40) to repair a broken strap on a purse and 170 kuai ($25) to fix a pair of shoes.  I had four items to be fixed (two purses, a pair of heels, and a pair of rain boots) which, when I bought them, perhaps cost $50 all together.  Needless to say, we did not take them up on their offer. 

Instead, acting on a series of tips and hunches, we made our way up DaXue Lu towards a market where, rumor had it, a guy fixed shoes.  Sure enough we found them, two guys with tiny rooms chock full of every item needed to repair any sort of damage to shoes, leather goods, and umbrellas.  Between us we had new heels put on two pairs of high heels and three purse straps repaired – for a total cost of 15 yuan ($2).  That’s much more like it! 

We had lunch at the Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant in the McDonald’s building.  I really liked it!  For one thing, when you’re not eating meat it’s almost luxurious to go to a restaurant where you can eat absolutely anything on the menu.  Also, the place is clean and even slightly decorated; unlike most of the places I eat here in China, I would perhaps try this place if it were in America.  But most amazing was the service!  After we had eaten our fill a waitress came over, asked if the food was good, offered to pack up the leftovers for us to take home, and checked to see if she could take away our plates.  This might not seem groundbreaking, but trust me when I say that it is by far the most friendly service I’ve ever received in a Chinese restaurant. 

We stayed at the table talking for quite a while after finishing our meal.  (The weather outside is really not conducive to going out; if it’s not outright raining, it’s drizzling!)  We ended up talking about our experiences with beggars here.  We all had really bad experiences to share – like when we gave money to one guy and three others mobbed us; or when we offered them bananas or bread and they demanded the dumplings or cookies we had.  We were all wondering what options are available to the poor and homeless here, like what help they get from the government. 

This also led into a discussion about disabilities, because so many beggars are disabled or severely injured in some way.  Due to its complete lack of handicap-accessibility, China at times seems downright hostile to the disabled.  Since coming to China, I’ve really become appreciative of the American Disability Act.  Sometimes the litigation and political correctness in America can get impractical or tiresome, but I am really very proud of the US for the value that we now afford to people with all sorts of disabilities and the laws that we’ve put in place to protect them.  I know that “better than China” isn’t necessarily a good standard, but I think we do a pretty good job, right? 

Lester was supposed to get out of the hospital yesterday, and then today after an ultrasound, but now his release has been postponed again until Monday.  I went to the hospital to visit him but he’s a hard patient to keep track of!  He goes out every afternoon or evening when he’s done with his IV, so sometimes it’s hard to catch him in his room.  We met in one of the cafeterias on campus for dinner with XuLei, a girl we met in dancing class who has been visiting Lester even more than me. 

I like hanging out with those two.  They’re both great friends and we speak a fun mix of English and Chinese.  She’s one of my Chinese friends who I feel comfortable questioning about aspects of Chinese culture that I don’t understand.  We talked about my good service experience earlier that day and how remarkable it was, which led to a discussion about the nature of service in China and the West.  Really, now that I think about it, maybe it’s not so weird that service is so bad here; workers don’t get respect and they certainly don’t return it.  Unlike in America, where most people work at least one entry-level service job in their lifetime and then move on from there, the really crappy jobs here held for life and those who hold them are looked down on.  New resolution: Be nicer, and give everyone a chance to be nice back. 

This evening XuLei and I went dancing.  I hadn’t been in a few weeks because I’ve been so busy between classes and helping Lester, so it was great to be back.  Everyone was full of questions about Lester and my parents (Dad, the officer says hi!).  I think I danced every dance except two, which can get pretty tiring!  But I hadn’t been to The Key in a few weeks, either, so I convinced XuLei to go out with us afterwards.

We met up with Leinira and some other friends and first went to Havana Beach, a bar that just opened this weekend.  (By ‘just opened’, we really mean that it changed names and perhaps theme; this happens almost weekly in Xiamen.)  Leinira knew somebody there so we enjoyed a round of free sangria before going to The Key.  It was XuLei’s first time in a bar, but she really seemed to enjoy it!  We didn’t stay very late because – get this! – she has class tomorrow (Sunday) at 8 a.m.!  Anyway, it’s probably just what I needed: dance ‘til you’re exhausted to some Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Akon, Bon Jovi, and Katy Perry, then go home and crash. 

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