Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

the tutor

On our first night here we had a chance to meet a very good tutor. She's very funny and wonderfully friendly. We sat and laughed and talked over dinner in an outside restaurant in the north end of the city.

The evening was a moderate 77 degrees with a slight breeze. We sat under a tree and talked until the sun left us. The wispy cotton pink clouds swept through the turquoise blue sky above.

She teaches Chinese for 50 yuan per 1.5 hours, that's $5 per hour, and she drives to our apartment for private lessons.

We took her out to lunch after our first session. Most Chinese food is a mix of vegetables and whatever meat you order. Spices and peppers may change the taste but the basic ingredients remain the same. What was unique about this meal was the deep fried goat cheese. A plate of this was served with two bowls. One of sugar and another of salt. I preferred dipping them in the sugar because it complements the salty goat cheese inside.

We needed books so she drove us about 30 minutes away to buy them. One the way to the bus station to drop us off for our return trip home, she suggested we should see her home.

She lives in a condo with four floors. Each resident owns two floor each. The bottom two floors have an outside garden. The top two floors have a roof garden. She has the top two floors. The roof garden includes a pond with koi, trees, a friendly rabbit, and a view of the city with a mountain backdrop.

Her husband decorated the entire apartment. The doors are solid oak as are the door casings. Some of the doors have etched glass panel insets. On one living room wall hangs a slab of sandstone. The walls are painted a cream color that frames the doors.

The entire place looked western to me. I was surprised to see that they had western toilets too. The only indication that we were in a Chinese home was the kitchen counters. For some reason the counter height in China is only 36 inches.

From the inside it could have been a million dollar home situated in the East Bay or San Francisco area. Walking through the place there was no indication that we were in China at all. Of course, she didn't pay San Francisco prices.

The place cost them $90k U.S. But for that, they only buy a concrete shell. No doors, no bathrooms, no walls. Just the shell. I'm uncertain what it cost them to finish the place for their move-in. However, labor is cheap and so is much of the building materials.

Laughter is an instant vacation.  - Milton Berle

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