Friday, September 14, 2007

Beautiful Suzhou

In June 2007, I had the privilege of teaching English in Suzhou to many youngsters who harbour dreams of studying in a local polytechnic here in the littlreddot. They would have known whether they could make it by now, as the results of the entrance test was somewhere in late August. I had little or no problems with the 90 students. In fact, teaching them was generally an easy task because they were self-motivated. Staying in the very comfortable lecturer's lodge made my 3 week-plus stay a very pleasant and memorable one.

During my free time, the organisation i was working with wouldn't disturb me and so i was able to go out to soak in the sights. I made a day-trip to the oldest street in Suzhou - Shangtang Jie. It was certainly a memorable visit as i took the 7-mile street; two way (3.5 km = 1 li). So i walked 7 km in all. My camera clicked non-stop and these are some very nice ones. It is representative of the simple life of the residents in this historic district.

The boys are playing a supremely simple game of throwing a magnetic token. There are 3 rows of magnets, the one nearest the thrower is the least points while the one furthest gives you the most points. Look how they are so into the game.

No PSP in sight, no SEGA in tow, no Pokemon or other 'modern' ask-your-monster-to-fight-for-you type of game. I was mesmerised certainly.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ratatouille and other Rodents

According to Wikipedia, there are about 2000 to 3000 species of rodents in this world. See Rodents are by the way, gnawing mammals that make up the Order Rodentia. Examples of rodents are mice, rats, chipmunks, beavers, and squirrels.Rodents make up about half to more than half of the animal kingdom! Implications? There are a lot of these small creatures running around, and the first two of the examples i have just given are not too welcome by all and sundry.

Just a few months back, my estate called pestcontrol agents to block and cover up the holes in the ground, believed to be the abodes of rodents of the ugly kind (grey with long pinkish tails). Besides covering up, they of course were instructed to put rat poison into the holes.

In my U days, i actually had a horrifying experience where my Tupperware container cover (mind you) was bitten into a crescent shape!!! Horror of horrors!!! The rat had attempted to access my biscuits which were in the container. I subsequently asked to be moved into another room of KR hall (where i stayed for a year). You don't have to guess what i did to all those biscuits, which incidentally were just topped up to the brim. Oh man...

Here is a Ratatouille-inspired piece. Enjoy!

The Final Showdown of the Rodent-Killer and the Rodent King!!!
Starring: Academy-award winner Mr Rodonkiller; Mr Rodent King; His Deputy Rodent and their 8 highly-skilled rodents...
Setting: King Rodent's court (somewhere in Japan)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Memoirs of a Geisha and Other Stories

Besides faithfully watching Japan Hour weekly, i love sashimi and Japanese Culture. Memoirs of a Geisha was a very good read a few years ago and these clay figures are just a very natural outward manifestation of a Nippon Fan.

These figures took me an entire morning and they are by no means perfect. But at this point, i'm okay with the results and i look forward to better facial expressions with more practice.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Picture Discussion

I have two pictures here which lend themselves very well to picture discussion sessions with your students. I took them in Shangtang Street, Suzhou.

If you intend to use it, do acknowledge.



A recent work. The player reflects optimism as he confidently tries to spin the basketball on his left index finger.