Our life in Urumqi

Archive for the ‘Urumqi’ Category

Bring your bling – Uyghur weddings!

Thus far we’ve been invited to two weddings in Urumqi: one Han and the other Uyghur. As examples of comparative anthropolgy they’ve been very interesting.

Take, for example, a Han Chinese wedding. The one I attended (Ange couldn’t make it) was the wedding of our supervisor and it was a wet affair. The common drink to dish out here is a clear liquid death called baijiu (sounds a bit like bye, Jo) which (in the more expensive cases) comes in porcelain containers and is served in shot glasses. Typically, the stuff ranges from 50%-85% proof and just one leaves a taste of nailpolish remover in your mouth for hours afterwards. It’s fairly minging. Does the job though, no mistake about that! And it’s not a good idea to have one when you’ve a class later that day. ‘You smell like Daddy’ is not something you want your students telling you of a weekday afternoon. Packets of cigarettes are left on all the tables for people to help themselves.

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What the hell?

Okay, maybe starting this topic was a big mistake for two reasons.

1. I only have so many hours in the day and there is a LOT of weird shit I don’t understand here, and;

2. I’ve been in China six months, sure, but I reckon you could be here for years and still find there’s a lot that doesn’t make any sense from an outsider perspective. I’m a long, long, long way from expertise.

Nonetheless, here goes, a list of the top four differences between China and my home, as seen by me (NB: we work for a company dominated by Han Chinese and live in a predominantly Han neighbourhood, and so it is the Han way of doing things I reference below.)

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Who needs logic anyway…

In case the etymological study of the word ‘logic’ didn’t give the game away, this is a contribution from Ian. On a Bad China Day.

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Logic. The word has its roots in the ancient Greek logos, of which one meaning is to say or speak. In the thinking of Heraclitus, who first used it in a technical sense, it meant something akin to Truth, alethia. Nowadays, however, it denotes a systematic approach to something, a manner of saying or doing things that confirm to a logical, that is, comprehensible and easily verifiable truism. It is this wordview, this paradigm, that signifies Western technological thinking more than any other. And it doesn’t apply in China.

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Camels and kebabs – life in Urumqi

Welcome to my blog; three years and nine countries after I first decided to set it up…

I live in Urumqi, Xinjiang, far north-west China. Take a second to get a mental image of that. You might need to close your eyes and try to recall a detailed world map. Far. North. West. China. Nowhere near Beijing or Shanghai, and definitely not a tourist trap. The China cliches do not apply here, my friends. There’s no old people in weird wicker hats. There’s no terraced rice paddies here and there’s not even that much rice, comparatively speaking. There are few grand monuments, a distinct lack of cute stone villages and and no serene, flowing rivers to conjure up romantic images of yester-year.

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