Sunday, September 2, 2012

Jew's ear, and an interesting haircut

Wow what a week. Classes began on Monday and so did the pile of homework.  The Chinese classes are challenging and require a lot of out of class work but the teachers are very interesting and so is the material.  In fact I really enjoy the nine hours a day I spend in classes and working on Chinese homework because I know that each new character or grammar pattern I learn brings me one step closer to that far off dream of fluency, well I hope it’s not too far off.

Jew's Ear
The kitchen I share with my roommates is quite sparse at the moment so my roommates and I have been eating out a lot.  I enjoy this because I don’t have to cook and also it increases my chances of experiencing something new.  This week the “something new” was Jew’s ear.  What is Jew’s ear you may ask, well I was asking myself the same question the first time I saw it on a menu.  Jew’s ear, Auricularia auricula-judae, is a type of fungi that is used in many Chinese dishes and is quite delicious.  Now at first my curiosity was sedated with discovering that Jew’s ear was a mushroom, but then time and time again I kept seeing Jew’s ear on the menu and I started to wonder at what was the history of the mushrooms namesake.  Was the mushroom’s naming the result of anti-Semitism, coincidence, or some unfortunate mistranslation.  Finally my curiosity got the better of me and I did some research. The etymology of the Jew’s ear mushroom is as follows.  The mushroom got its name from the folklore that after Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus Christ’s disciples, hung himself from an elder tree because of the guilt he felt from betraying Jesus Christ the ear shaped mushrooms grew from the elder tree as a piece of Judas’s spirit and a reminder of his betrayal.  The original name for the mushroom was Judas’s ear but was then shortened to Jew’s ear. I apologize for the long explanation but I found Jew’s ear very interesting.

Another exciting thing I did this week was get my first Chinese haircut.  Now I did not know what to expect, I had heard and read many “horror” stories about getting a haircut in China, one author said that anytime she left a hair salon in China not crying was a win.  With those encouraging stories under my belt I brushed up on my hair related Chinese vocabulary, asked for a recommendation, and set out down the street.  I arrived at the barber shop it’s entrance flanked by two 1950s style barber shop poles and entered.  The interior of the shop was simple, a long mirror with equally spaced chairs facing it flanked one side of the room, while the opposite mirror less wall was covered in pictures of models with ridiculous and impossible looking hairstyles which almost distracted the costumer from the peeling wallpaper and exposed pipes that persisted throughout the shop.  I was greeted by one of the stylist and after I enquired about the price, 20kuai which is only $3.15 U.S., I was ushered to a washing stand where my hair was washed and my head massaged.  Next I was taken to a chair where I told the stylist with my limited Chinese and some hand gesturing that he could do as he liked 随便你(Suíbiàn nǐ) with my hair, just not to short and to shave the sides.  The haircut had begun “there’s no stopping now” I thought to myself as I saw the stylist grab the just used unclean razor from his coworker, the razor moving from one head of hair to mine in little more than a second.  The buzzing of the razor came to a stop and I looked up into the mirror expecting the worse only to be pleasantly surprised with a great looking fohawk.  I got up and paid for the haircut and while doing so heard the only word of English uttered during the entire event and that was a very enthusiastic “Helloo” from the man behind the register.  Getting a haircut in China has been one of my favorite experiences because not only did I get a great haircut, seriously I will be returning to that shop in the near future, but I was placed in a situation where I was the only one who knew any English and so was forced to really on my Chinese.
That’s all for now

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