Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Good News and the Bad News

Well, the good news is that they are finally finished with the section of construction on the main road in front of our school. It had been in progress over 6 months and I was wondering if the scaffolding would be a permanent part of the landscape. My question has been answered: the view is now clear of scaffolding.

The bad news is that there is now so much dust I have to hold my hand over my nose and mouth at the bus stop. As though the pollution in our neighborhood was not excessive we now have enough dust to… well, I don’t know what dust is good for, but there is plenty of it. Do you want some?

I wish I could have pulled my camera out of my bag in time to snap a picture of the couple on their scooter, zipping down the road. I was standing at the bus stop when I saw this: the man was driving and the woman was sitting behind him. She had her right hand on her face, covering her nose and mouth and with her left hand she had reached around her husband’s face and covered his nose and mouth. Her skirt was left to flap in the wind. It was a hilarious sight, especially since, directly behind them were those ubiquitous street sweepers in orange jackets and pointy straw hats, raising a cloud of dust by sweeping with their ancient looking twig brooms (see picture).

Strangely enough, most Chinese wear face masks to prevent the inhalation of dust but it seemed that today, no one was wearing one. Most people stood far back from the road so that they wouldn’t be clouded in dust. Unfortunately that means that the bus drivers did not see any passengers who wanted to board their bus and they just drove on by.

Thus a comical dance ensued. People got tired of the buses just bypassing the bus stop so they stepped closer to the road – AFTER their bus had already passed. Presumably they were going to make sure that the next bus stopped for them. Soon enough the dust cloud raised by passing vehicles forced them to retreat again, and again they missed their bus. Luckily I was brave enough – or foolish enough to face the dust so I was able to flag down my bus and get on with no problem. I was headed to Hanyang to do a little shopping. I needed some staple goods and the stores near campus do not sell what I was looking for.

The good news is that I have a friend to lunch with in Hanyang. Remember Ozgur, from the Friday the 13th posts? Well, she lives in Hanyang and invited me to call her whenever I headed that way. We could have lunch, visit and talk. What a delicious prospect to meet with her again! Besides, I had an ulterior motive to meet with her. One of my friends who teaches at another language school on weekends asked if I would be available during the summer months to help her coach the kids. Of course, you all know I’m headed Stateside and thus I would be decidedly unavailable during the summer, at least to teach anything in China but I did promise to contact one of my foreign friends and see if she would be available to take my place.

The friend I had in mind was Ozgur. Her English is not only passable, it is quite good and I’m sure she would enjoy the opportunity to teach, especially since the group she would be teaching is about the same age as her own daughter. I had planned to pitch the idea to her over lunch, all while enjoying her company while we snacked on bruschetta.

The bad news is that Ozgur was in no shape to meet with me, for lunch or anything else. Unbeknownst to me she was expecting the last time I saw her and on the day I called she had just been released from the hospital. She had lost her much wanted baby.

Contrary to what I cheerfully reported a few posts back babies are not being born all over the place. Some are being lost and leaving their grieving mothers to cope with the heartbreak. Ozgur was devastated at losing this baby. Her daughter is now 6 years old and she badly wanted another child before her daughter grew too old to appreciate a sibling.

This lovely and gracious woman spilled her tragedy to me, right there over the phone. It seems she needed someone to talk with. I did not mind one bit being the person she turned to; I only wish we had been face to face so that I could hug her close to me and give her whatever comfort I could. Brave and strong soul that she is she did not cry while telling me about it, I’m the one who had to hold back tears. So sorrowful was her tale and so mournful her tone that I could not help shedding a few anyway.

Ozgur had a very philosophical approach to it all, in spite of her grief. She said that millions of women lose babies; it happens every day! Yes, my dear Ozgur, that is true. But this was your baby and your pain is unique to you. Now that you’ve shared your sorrow with me, I carry half of it. I cry for you.

As soon as she is sufficiently recovered to travel she will go to Turkey and visit her mother. She will return to Hanyang in August, after spending a month in her mother’s loving care. We made plans to meet when we return from our travels.

Please keep Ozgur in your thoughts and prayers as she and her family go through this difficult time.

I ate my solitary lunch at the very restaurant she and I had met at just a few weeks before, and then I went shopping. Going home I did not have to wait for the bus as all; it pulled up just as I was crossing the street and walking up to the stop. The bus driver did not have the air conditioning on and we all sweltered, even though the windows were open and the dust was flowing freely. I did not get a seat on the bus this time.

The bad news is that the roads are still in terrible disrepair. There is no good news to counter that with.

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