Sunday, May 2, 2010


I called my apartment-facilitator-lady last week. That in itself warrants an explanation: She's a realtor, so when we found our apartment, Chef Mike and I gave her 30% of one month's rent as finder's fee, but our landlord did likewise and this fee includes her serving as go-between since our landlord doesn't speak English and doesn't want to be bothered.

So I called apartment-facilitator-lady and told her our fridge isn't working and the A/C unit in Chef Mike's room is broken. Broken in the sense that when he turns it on all of the lights in our apartment go out. It's been like that since we moved in, but I think he didn't call Leaf (apartment-facilitator-lady's "English" name) because he likes the excuse to fall asleep on the couch watching Nightmare on Elm Street. Sometimes he falls asleep to other movies, like Alien, but pretty much Freddy is Chef Mike's glass of warm milk. Actually Freddy is more like Chef Mike's boyfriend arm.

I tell Leaf these things are broken. She says she needs to come look at them. I say no she doesn't need to look at them she needs to call someone to fix them. She laughs nervously and fakes cell phone interference (translation: she's going to come look at them and then call someone). Then she asks if we've registered at the police station. Of course, I say.

In China you're technically supposed to register with the police within 24 hours of arriving anywhere. Most hotels do it for you. The rule is somewhat lenient, but it's not a good idea to delay if you're trying to score a permanent visa. And if you delay long enough, the police will come looking for you.

So I tell Leaf, duh, we've registered. It took me all morning after we moved in to find the right police station - it wasn't the one directly across the street from my building, those fools sent me to the second wrong police station and from there I made it to the third one. YES I HAVE DONE THAT. Thank you.

Well, Leaf, says, someone called the landlord and said there are people who aren't registered living in her unit.


Chef Mike! I call the Chef. He's been too busy flipping burgers and dodging old leather face in the dream world to pay the po po a visit (to be fair, dude works 6 days a week ... at least).

It's not a big deal - he just has to go do it, but what grinds my gears is - who does that? Who is watching us? I've posed this question to a couple friends who've been living here several years and they smile knowingly and offer up who's-watching-you stories that far trump mine. 

I heard one where people were googling something politically sensitive from their office and they were told to quit otherwise they and their company would be punished.

I talked to a German lady who was planning a trip to Tibet once and had already bought her tickets when the government shut down foreign entry. She called her boyfriend and they had an angry conversation "Damn! We can't go to Tibet!" and she said it was disconnected three times. Once she even heard a voice on the line.

The common wisdom is there's someone in every foreign company and in most residential complexes keeping tabs... 


1 comment:

LT said...

Very spooky. I can relate to it in the UAE.