Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mandarin Meet Up

Not long after I moved to Jersey City, I started using meetup.com. A few friends in town used it to plan events and meet new people. Of course, I rarely attended the local events. However, I also found a Mandarin Monday group in New York that seemed to have regular meetings.

The first couple times I went to the meetings, it was in a large restaurant by the Empire State Building. Unfortunately, the food was rather bland and expensive. But, the people were fun to talk with, even if some of them spoke little to no Mandarin. As I began teaching at the community college, I couldn't attend the meetings in the city. Or, more accurately, I was too tired to take the PATH into the city for an expensive dinner.

Since then, they group has changed restaurants a few times. Now, they meet at Great Sichuan (not to be confused with my favorite Chinese restaurant in Jersey City, Grand Sichuan), which serves much better food at a cheaper price than the original meet up restaurant.

Last night was one of the more interesting meetings of the group. It was only 10 people (we had more than 20 last week). It was mostly an older crowd that didn't speak much Chinese, but they provided some interesting conversation. One attendee spoke with me about visiting Xinjiang--he had visited the province in the late '80s. Another one got to see Shenzhen from the Hong Kong border in the years just prior to Deng Xiaoping, when the city was still a collection of fishing villages with a population of about 20,000.

Now that classes begin again next week, I hope I can find the time and energy to attend more of these meet ups. It might provide more motivation to study.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smiles in the Trees

I know this photo is a bit of a cliche on travel blogs, but it's still cool. The banyan grew around the Buddha head in the ruins of Ayutthaya, Thailand. Even without the Buddha head, banyans are amazing trees to photograph--I have quite a few from my travels, including a rather large one in Yangshuo that was turned into a cheesy tourist attraction.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Working for the New Year

The New Year is looking good so far. Granted, it's a very young year and I haven't done much yet. I'm looking forward to getting back to work--I'm a little bored with all this time off. And that blizzard before New Year's and subsequent snow removal (or lack thereof) didn't help. Even though I'll have plenty of work at the college, I'm continuing my pursuit of more freelance work to subsidize our summer trip to China.

Of course, I have found some useful things to do with my free time. I managed to finally put together the seventh issue of Terracotta Typewriter, which includes the work of a writer who was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize. It's hard to believe that I started the website two years ago and it's still alive. I'm pleased with all the messages of support I've received--it's one of the reasons I continue to work on it. It's probably time that I find someone to help with the production--regular readers have probably noticed that I never kept up with the Mandarin Monday posts (or any regular blog posts on that site).