Thursday 17 November 2011

7:00 AM – I have breakfast in the dining hall:

  • congee with “pumpkin”
  • flat, twisted cruller (easily breaks)

8:30 AM – In class I practice more seal script calligraphy and seal carving, and do my first seal with six characters.


12:30 PM – I have lunch in the dining hall and chat with a girl called Katy. Her real name is Katya and she is from Russia, lives in China teaching English (she used to live in England as an English major), and takes a Chinese painting class. Her boyfriend is from Canada. Everybody here has a story.

  • green beans with water chestnut
  • celery, carrot, and tofu slivers
  • rice
  • breaded deep-fried? fish cakes? (cold)
  • whole small shrimp

In the afternoon I do some laundry. Then, after I’m done with that, I go to the classroom to practice until 8:30 PM. I talk with a fellow student about all the stones I’ve been cutting. They’re all copies of ancient seals, and most are just so-so. I’d like to sand them down and re-use the stones but am told we keep all the stones we’ve cut and just buy more stones. I’m okay with that except that I’ll end up with a lot of stones and not sure how to get them all home. Another student said it wasn’t too expensive to ship things by sea from the post office. It takes a couple of months to arrive by boat but I can wait for the books and stones to arrive. I’ll just try to carry the presents home with me—at least as much as possible. I think Wang Gongyi has a lot of experience with shipping things from here so I expect she can help me.

8:50 PM – I go to the Lavazza Coffe shop but am too late for food so I just have a “Snow Premium Light” beer and some dried squid while I use their wifi ($3.96 total). I wanted to try West Lake beer but they were out of it. I ate a lot of squid in Japan and always liked it but it’s too expensive in the States. They bring the beer can and a glass; the can looks like a Sprite can. I missed dinner in the cafeteria because I was planning to try some of the food they serve in the coffee shop, but I got here too late—the kitchen’s already closed. So I’ll probably go across the street to the great French bakery for some bread and call it good. I tell my daughter by email that sometimes, if I think about it, I get a bit panicky thinking how I’m running out of time and knowing I’ll probably never be back here again. I’ve already gone through half my time in China. But in fact I’ve done pretty much everything I wanted to do: I’m taking the class and learning exactly what I wanted, I’ve found great bookstores and art supply stores, I’ve walked around the city—a lot—and experienced enough of China to suit me. Wang Gongyi will get here this Sunday and I expect something interesting to come with it. I still want to get to Suzhou, but should be able to manage it.

There are showers in the morning, with a temperature of 75 degrees F.