September 7, 2009 07:35 hrs
We enter the bus to meets and greets, smiles, and sleepy eyed stares that are quintessential Chinese. This South East Asian look is a mix of doe eyed optimism and the same uncertainty that a fish must feel gasping foreign air before it’s clubbed to death. The early morning cocktail of mutual admiration that the Laowai (old outsider ergo whitey) have returned to the tune of Thin Lizzy’s The Boys are Back in Town is shattered by the high pitch shrill of some Mao era roof top air conditioner fucked thing, as the lumbering green beast we’re on is punched started by our chunky driver who just dove in the seat like a nicotine filled mule skinner on amphetamines that causes me to curse with envy.
We continue to wince under the grating noise, as if a gasoline soaked bag of newborn puppies and broken bottles are being beaten above our heads for a crime we did not commit. This is the kind of busted industrial machine noise which would coheres a tear stained confession out of the toughest one eyed outlaw biker. The assault on our aural senses seems to unphaze the locals, who dutifully act as if this is their lot in life. Now I understand that fish look as they know all too well what is in store for this nails on a chalk board ride to work.
We scramble for our various media devices, jamming them ear worm deep into our rattled pale skulls in hopes of having enough volume to circumvent what surely must be a left over cold war psychic warfare conspiracy to keep us overpaid honkies and hired guns in line. I cue up some Cambodian Rock ala Dengue Fever which wails at the perfect pitch to cancel out any above said sonic torture devices. “Take that you Pillocks!”
For thirty some odd clock minutes I drift between realties and dimensions of the modern urbanized horror of boom town Pearl River Delta where in the short two months I was absent whole blocks of shopping arcades have sprung from the earth like giant shitty non edible mushrooms covered in the ubiquitous green construction hide of polyurethane mesh and bamboo pole scaffolding.
This bleak image dances in time to the music in a juxtaposition of my own personal internalized far out soundtrack. The mind flittering away to fantasy land of days long gone by of beautiful and lush tropical greens and cool off shore breezes, as this fat man is lounging under a beach pulapa sipping glacier cold beer between long pulls of Bun Lo (betle nut), and Yunnan Gold, all the while being massaged by cinnamon skinned island beauties under the loving and approving watchful eye of my beautiful blonde wife.
I’m rudely jolted back and fourth as this drunken runaway roller coaster bus charges and pushes aside the throngs of scooter filled high heel trash and brown leather skinned Coolies on 125 CC cracker jack box motorcycles puttering along the expressway in a death defying asphalt high wire act more akin to a school fish than the rules of the road. The lines, signs, and lights on the highway are merely for decorative purposes only. This is a game where only size matters, and baby next to the omni-present blue long distance haulers our hulking bus is the biggest Wang* (Chinese Surname) on the road!
We zip down the highway like a striped ass ape on fire, running to and fro to some vaguely distant end zone to win the game. I can only imagine that our driver is pushing pedal to the metal jonesing for that next cancer stick.
Local lady riders dolled up in their finest nuvorichyrich clown townery faux fashion rags jockey against the unwashed masses that provide the migrant blood and sweat all these new Kentucky Fried Chickens and counterfeit Ipod stores are being built on. Their ridiculously assorted choices of so called protective head ware runs the gambit of the nearly non existent barely legal ice cream served in a baseball helmet to oversized metallic flaked cosmonaut bowling balls of massive neck weight that would make my wife’s chiropractor cringe, as I humorously recall the first time I was shot out of a cannon.
I momentarily choked down the cynicism that festers in my old gangster punk soul and despite being reminded that I’m in this for another year, the real crux of all this is secretly knowing that I love it.
The not so jolly green giant bumble bees off the expressway into the Shishan Industrial Technological Park, up the mound they call a mountain in this here former rice paddy parts and lunges to a squeaky brake stop at the University gate. A uniformed nutless monkey activates the crash gate which is nothing more than a glorified electric slinky on steroids that seems to be all the rage here. We groan a collective sigh of Mondayitis as we make one final plunge forward to our final destination.
We are saluted by the guard as we cross over this academic DMZ with all the confidence in campus security that turns a blind eye to the fact that there is a hole in the fence next to the gate and guard shack big enough for a Panzer division to roll through.
The busload of seasick passengers rush out the exit as if a fire has engulfed the back and I mildly hope so as the hellish noise from above is still screaming for vengeance for white man scalps and schiza porn.
Eaters run to the canteen for their daily allotment of bugs and rice. We gave up playing Chinese tomaine roulette our first year here. There is only so much violent psychedelic diarrhea one kiss ass foreigner can take. With only one western style toilet up on the elevator-less fifth floor, a belly and bowels full of Laduzi* (literally chili belly) makes running with the bulls a walk in the park as the foreign teaching faculty places bets on how long the NFGs* (new fucking guy) can hold it or adapt to the infamous squatty potty versus learning the most embarrassing translation of Chocolate Rain.
I arrive at my office to find out that I have another three weeks off, but should have been at the general Commie meeting last week. Maywintee* (it’s okay) it was all in Chinese anyway.
This is all part of the show of expat teaching life in The Middle Kingdom. This my Monday morning commute to school. This is my China. This is my Nanhai. This is my Guangdong. This is oh so very Cantonese. This is my life.