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Russell Eagling


Sent: Friday, September 26, 2003 4:41 AM
Subject: This is China

Dear all,

Well - its been a while since I let you know about what's been going on.

One thing which I might not have mentioned in my earlier emails is how loud this country is. I have just been to get my lunch and seen the funniest thing. We heard military music as we were walking the streets. I assumed this would be the first years in military service (the first month of your university career is spent learning how to march up and down a big, hot field.) However, when we rounded the corner we saw the equivilent of an Umpa band sat just outside a new restaurant.

They were playing very loudly and had a couple of trumpets and a couple of trombones and a big bass drum with cymbals. They faced the restaurant and the English language does not have words to quite describe the racket they were making.

James, who I live next to, thinks that they were employed by the restaurant to advertise their new opening. However, I'm sure that they must have been sent around by their rivals who want to make sure no one would possibly want to go into the place whilst they were outside.

But its not just this particular band that are very loud. Music is played very very loudly with the treble turned up really high, and virtually no bass atall. It makes the very loud music also very ear-splitting. Especially at the pitch that most female vocalists sing at. People on the street appear to be arguing - almost fighting - when actually they are just old friends having a conversation. And I now realise that whilst driving that you don't need to check your blind spot. If everyone beeps their horn when they over(or under)take then you never need to glance behind you. I sometimes wonder how cumulative many weeks or months of my life I have wasted checking my blind spot in the UK.

Its got quite a lot less sticky in the last couple of weeks. Still around 30 degrees each day, but much more bearable. However, the change in temperature has precipitated a massive rise in the number of mosquitos who have decided to share my bedroom at night. I have never been bitten so much. I brought a small tube of anti-histermine cream with me which I am rapidly getting through. I've also bought a little machine which infuses the air with a vapour that mosquitos either don't like very much or don't like a lot (eg they die) I'm a little worried about what this is doing to my lungs, but I suppose as I've never smoked then I have a little more leeway than many! I'm just grateful that I'm not in a malaria region.

I've also only been ill from food once so far. Also known as the Chinese Weight Loss Plan it is much simpler than the Atkins diet and may or may not prove to be less deadly. What I did was take another of the medications I brought with me and the rush to the loo stopped. Infact I didn't go again for three days. Which did worry me as I was eating normally all the time. Anyway - that's enough (far too much) of that.

The students continue to be very interested in whatever I have to say or do. We had English corner last night which is a kind of free for all chat that they hold every night in the campus grounds. Being asked hundreds of questions by breathless girls for two and a half hours does take it out of you.

But its not just the girls who are interested in my views. I was interveiwed by Wuhan TV about the impact on the UK of Digital TV. I haven't seen the finished product, but it must have been OK, because they now want to invite me into the studio to make up their panel on another show looking at the position of women around the world. If anyone has any ideas on things to say please let me know because its not exactly my chosen, specialist subject. Actually I'm very excitied about the airing of the Digital TV show because its going to be broadcast on October 1st which is China's National Day. My show is going out at 9:05pm. Now if that doesn't sound like peak peak time, I don't know what does!

Anyways, I'd better get off. I need to try and plan a week in Shanghai. We get a week off for China National Day, which seems very generous as we were only just getting into the swing of teaching.

Hope to hear from you very soon.

All the very best


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Launched on December 25th 2003