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Friday, March 05, 2004

It is truly the little things in life that make a difference, and two small changes have made life here so much better. Despite being fairly uneventful from the tourist gaze, it has been monumental from the standpoint of a person who has chosen this city as his home for the next five Months. There was no way for me to know that these things would take place, but they seemed to happen miraculously. It started out the same way as every other day. Tracking into the bathroom to turn on the hot water heater and having my feet and flipflops wet from the constant leak that has drenched my shower floor since I arrived two weeks ago. Nothing had changed in my morning routine, I ate my delicious piece of cake and drank my glass of Asian milk as I had done every morning while reading the news off of abc's website. Nothing had changed not even the hot but short shower that I had come to be ever so thankful for. The weather was still cold and the stares still steep on my journey to my oral English classes. The room was still there, and I had arrived at the same time as I had done every time before. But this time, there was something different. The room was quiet and empty. No smiling faces to welcome me. Had I mistaken the time. Surely not, it was all right there in front of me. The students had called and agreed that we would meet on Friday morning this week instead of Thursday. Had they lied, could I have been duped, would my precious Chinese students fool me and make a fool out of me. Of course not, they were not possible of it. Maybe they decided to just hold the class somewhere else. Frantic to find them, I searched all of the buildings then I saw students in a window smiling and waving at me. It must be them I though. I rushed up the stares and into the room. There was no teacher, so I thought, This must be them. I ran into the room,
and they all burst into applause. There teacher had arrived. I began to write on the chalk board then all
of a sudden gasps could be heard from the audience. The real teacher was there, and I was not the guest
instructor who they thought that I was. Embarrassed, I packed my bags and wished them all good luck. They applauded as I left not wanting the foreign teacher to be humiliated. Fleeing the scene of the crime, I
wanted to crawl into a hole and hide somewhere, but I decided to continue with my search. Surely, I had not been lied to. Already ten minutes late, I quickened my pace. I searched high and low, but nothing. Then from the corner of my eye, two shadows appeared running towards me, it was my girls. They had found me. All was well again and nothing had really changed. The class ran smoothly as all the others had done before, and the world seemed right again. Feeling a slight twinge of hunger, I walked down to the English department and met three of my colleagues. They were beautiful Asian Princesses who were a slight bit hungry as well. They invited me to join them for lunch, and within minutes we grabbed our bags, and I was swept away to the ever so familiar restaurant located across the alley from where I lived. Letting them order for me, I was treated to a feast of baked fish, spinach with vinegar, baked tofu, chicken with sweet and sour vegetables, homemade Indian style flatbread, and an amazing shredded beef dish that was
served over shoestring fried potatoes and served with flakey shells for a homemade spring roll that made all others pale in comparison. We talked and laughed and enjoyed ourselves, it was wonderful and amazing, but yet it was still the same. All of my meals had been astounding, and I had enjoyed my company everytime that I ate. Arriving back home, I quickly packed my clothes and headed to the dryclearners to have some laundry done. After dropping my clothes off and paying five dollars to have two weeks worth of laundry dry cleaned, I rushed over to the Foreign Affairs office to see if I could catch Laura. Knocking at the door, there was no answer, so I started back down the stairwell. Then all of a sudden, I heard sounds from above and Laura appeared at the top of the stares. She invited me into her office, and we talked. She asked me how things were, and I said wonderful, but I was wondering if there was any possible way in which to fix the leak in my bathroom. She told me to wait a few minutes and quickly made a call. She told me to put my coat on and wait with her outside. She then went into a small room and grabbed what I can only say was a magic key. We were met by a man carrying a small bag and a toilet plunger. They talked then we were taken to another wing of the building that I had never seen before. Walking to the end of the hallway, we pushed back the sheets that covered the doorway and ended up down a small and narrow pathway. We walked for a short distance until we reached an unusual metal doorway which looked as if it had been locked and meant to never open again. With her magic key, Laura opened the door which led to another small but secret pathway. We wandered around several corners then out of nowhere we were at the front of my apartment complex. Happy but confused, I let them into my apartment. I showed the man with the little bag and toilet plunder into my bathroom, and he closed the door behind me. Laura and I sat in my living room, and she asked me if I had found the restaurant menus and C.D.'s which the other teachers had left behind. I told her no. I had not really looked around the apartment. Jumping to her feet, she slid across the floor and opened the cabinet doors to the T.V. stand which I had ignored many times before. With a smile on her face, she whipped out several DVD'S and C.D.'s. I was in disbelief. Could it be, were they in English. It was more than I could handle. It was a miracle, so it seemed. Then reality hit me as I remembered that my computer had no sound. I was once again brought down to reality, and my brief elation was gone. Several minutes later the man with the little bag and plunger emerged from my bathroom and all was fixed. Thrilled with his handiwork, I could be nothing other than elated once again. With the problem solved, Laura and the man with the little bag and plunger returned down the secret pathway from which they had came. Looking at the clock it was almost time for my second class to begin, and I did not want to be late. I threw on my coat and rushed up the stares to my classroom. Once again, there was no class, just a little Chinese man with a book of Russian language. He approached me and told me Russian room. I looked down at my paper and said no English room. He said Russian and showed me a textbook for Russian. Not wanting to argue, I left and stood in the hallway. Several minutes later a band of Asian students came running towards me. It was my class, and they were all late. Understanding that they had been held over from another teacher, I was not angry, but I also had no room as mine had been taken over by the little Chinese Man who only seemed to speak Russian. I tried to get my students to talk with him, but he simply kept asking me if I knew Russian, and I kept saying Nyet Nyet. Finally, I said screw it and abandoned my classroom. I grabbed my pack then I set off with my merry band of Asians and found another classroom. We had our class and enjoyed ourselves greatly. Wanting to leave the experience of the Russian behind me, I put on my coat and headed home. It had been an odd but good day. I sat down at the computer than began to type. Feeling thirty, I started to get up from my chair as I did, I knocked over a large box that had been taped to the bottom of the desk. Oh my God, it was a subwoofer. I quickly turned it on and out of nowhere I had music. I went over to the mysterious cabinet that Laura showed me before and grabbed some C.D.'s and put one in. There was music. English. I was ecstatic. I quickly turned it up and set back and listened to the rhythms. I listed for the rest of the evening, and as I went to brush my teeth, I continued to listen. Then, as I walked into the bathroom, there was something different. It was cleaner, the walls were brighter, and it was dry. Everything was the same, but somehow everything had changed and life seemed good.

Christopher

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