Double update! ~v~
The next day I nevertheless went to work, going to a new student for the first time, their house was at the other [west] end of Shanghai.
The season was already approaching winter: late Autumn in Shanghai is actually very pleasant, particularly on this street, where the golden rays of twilight spilled through the Chinese Parasol’s canopy of yellow-green leaves onto the ground, peaceful everywhere. While all the way over here, there was no [train] stations—refined in all aspects.
But. I know clearly the reason why. It was not at all because I had the leisure to travel from one end [of Shanghai] to another [just to sightsee], rather it was because the driver had told me to come—this caused me to directly get off on another road and hence had to walk the entire long distance to my destination. That’s right, the reasonings of the poor will never have anything to do with the dissipated life – this is the reality.
Time was tight; I nearly ran the entire way.
After the lesson today, the Chinese Classics professor had called me. She was a very fashionable middle-aged woman who wore skirts all year round, with that pair of winter boots, the toes of her shoes always shiny—and when speaking, she’d always be able to see through me regardless of me keeping my head down.
The problem had been about the school assignment: she said that the others had already given her their ideas in accordance to her web bibliography list of focus tips – only I still lacked a concrete answer.
I explained to her quietly: because I didn’t get to borrow several books from the library, and books from other students are also in use, I will try to find a way, or instead wait, until they finish using it, to borrow.
In reality, it was because the other students didn’t at all want to lend me their books, but these things, even if I’d told her, she would not be able to help—it’d be better for me to just keep quiet.
She told me that I could also buy the books, because they were indeed very useful, also told me the address, said that the textbooks of that field from that particular [franchise], must buy.
I nodded while my heart began to calculate the costs, these textbooks are not cheap, however I really do need them. These things one could not do without, that I know.
With this delay, I’d grown very nervous by the time I was rushing to class. I sped up my steps while keeping eyes on both sides of the road for the address plaques. Old-fashioned houses lined the street; in between them were exquisite shops, small jewelry stores, hand-tailoring Cheongsam ateliers, as well as shoe stores, meanwhile my reflection in the various shops’ display windows—that sorry figure rushing past—stuck out like a sore thumb.
Finally, I saw a wine gallery, occupying the bottom floor of a storied building while facing the street, the fences a profound green, and placed on the front door was a blackboard sign with the hour of today’s wine-tasting written on it. Although the sky was not yet dark, the light was bright inside that place, illuminating the rows of vintage wine cellars. Inside the garden, waiters in black and white uniforms quietly walked around with trays in their hands. The tables had already been well set up with snow white plates laid over wine-red tablecloths: every angles of this arrangement rendered people unwilling to look away.
Even I became so entranced I could not move for a few seconds.
After that, I noticed that the blackboard sign actually, other than what I’d initially seen, had another row of easy-to-miss-sized letters: a job posting. The part-time recruitment was written at the top in chinese and english, basically it was an evening shift, with basic salary and even a commission—definitely favourable treatments.
I walked over and carefully read the term of employment that had been written very simply: requiring nothing else but to have all the common five sense organs (t/n: nose, eyes, lips, tongue and ears), to be fluent in English conversations, and even better if familiar with wine.
The sky had finally turned dark, hence I did not have time to stay, only getting to glance over one more time before I had to continue moving forward—after three steps, I turned around again. For a split second all the lights in that garden seemed to light up, seemingly a paradise.
The two hours of tutoring was lackluster; the student was a girl in her second year of junior middle school who solved math problems as if she was ingesting poison. When I told her to explain the idea, her yawning was incessant. She then lied on the desk and looked at me.
“Teacher, my mom said that she’s sending me to Australia for high school. Shanghai these past two days are cold to death, my uncle is over there. I chatted with my younger sister (on msn) yesterday and she said that she’s waiting to go surfing with me during the holiday. What do you plan to do during the holiday?”
I smiled and took her English test paper, then used english to say: “So you need more English speaking practicing, right?”
[t/n: the italicized phrase is actually the original text]
She rolled her eyes, probably thinking that I’m that type of dull and boring person.
I was not qualified to have fun; after all, I was still thinking of those Chinese Classics textbooks.