Thursday, February 23, 2006

1 little, 2 little, 3 little ...

My aunt sent me this quote which, in an exquisitely timely fashion after my last post, appeared as quote of the day in the NY Times on-line headlines:

"It's something wonderful to get a letter. The paper, the stamp, the envelope. It is not just a piece of paper. It is something sacred. "
Ibrahim Ismail Zaiden, a postman in Baghdad, Iraq

You should absolutely click on that link and read the article.

Today was madness. During preschool time we all piled in the Ding Ding Dang vans and went to the auditorium place where preschool graduation will be held this Saturday. We rehearsed for two hours and didn't get through the whole program. It's like herding cats, really. Five preschool classes, and each does four or five events like a song, a play, speeches. The Korean teachers keep them all lined up and ready for their cues and so on, ostensibly, but there was so much fiddling with the microphone and "who? what? what are we doing next?" and useless emcee interludes and crappy recordings of music and every other piece of nonsense you'd expect. It was awesome.

And four of us English Native Teachers just sat there in the back row of the auditorium being useless, the fifth teacher having unluckily been drafted to emcee so he has to stand on stage the whole time. This also means he gets to say ridiculous things that make the five of us cringe. After one class sings "10 Little Indians" in Chinese complete with one-hand-up-one-hand-to-the-mouth-yelling, he says, "Wow! Don't they look like real Indians?" I dared him to throw in the line, "And don't I sound completely racist saying that?" to see if anyone would notice/understand.

I'm here to tell you that anyone who thought "10 Little Indians" was a particularly American song, you are so wrong. And while you may have thought, being in the land of the politically correct (if still home to the Atlanta Braves), that that song had gone out of fashion, think again! It is alive and kicking in Asia! I found out a while ago how much Ding Ding Dang loves it, complete with the whooping and hollering motions, much to the surprise of us foreign teachers. It's even one of twelve songs on our company calendar that we each got free at the start of 2006 -- a song for each month. But it's just this week I learned "10 Little Indians" is big in China too. From our peanut gallery in the back row there today, I commented to the other ENTs that maybe it's about India, really, what do we know? But then the whooping it up kicked in. An India-Indian dance comes later in the show, when one of the preschools does a fashion show of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian traditional clothing.

I rarely go anywhere without a book anyway, but I wisely made sure to bring it with me today to the rehearsal, and so I sat there reading War and Peace in between making sardonic comments to my co-workers. I was reading the big Borodino battle scene. Did I mention the theater is in a fitness center? Don't try to understand it; I don't. I just know I was surrounded by a cacophony of screaming children and the aroma of sauna sweat as I turned the pages; cannons fired, shots rang out, Russians and French fell by the thousands.

"There was something about this life that I did not and do not now understand." -- says Prince Andrei on page 975

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