Students in (actually, not in) hot water 4

JISHOU, HUNAN — On Sunday we had a small student uprising, over hot water, or the lack of it. The student dorms here do not have water heaters providing hot water from the taps, so students usually use hot water pots or immersion heaters to get some hot water for drinking, washing, etc. Otherwise, they have to go downstairs to hot water dispensers outside the dorms, drop in some coins and fill their oversized Thermos jugs. Considering some dorms have eight floors, you can see why having an electric teapot might be desirable. Unfortunately, the wiring in some dorms is perhaps a little dodgy and at least 30 years old (I bet), so early Sunday morning there was an electrical fire in one of the women’s dorms. No big deal — no one was hurt and there was little damage — but the university responded with a typically quick bureaucratic response. Ban all electric heaters. No teapots. No immersion coils. No hotplates. Nada. This announcement came later that evening, and the students did not take to it kindly. In fact, they took to the campus, yelling, blowing whistles, banging metal lids together, around 11 pm, demanding the uni reverse its ...

It’s not all rosy here 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Since the university is about two miles from downtown Jishou, I miss a lot of the activity there. Last week, I wanted to visit a downtown computer store, but my friends here advised me there was some kind of citizen protest in Jishou City, and that perhaps I should wait to do my shopping. Little did I realize the ruckus was big enough to make The Washington Post. As described in this ex-pat’s blog and in this one, the protest involved about 10,000 people who apparently felt they had been cheated out their money in a fund raising scheme. There were arrests and 50 protesters were injured. Troops were called in. So, yeah, I guess it was better I stayed home. By and large, I have never felt threatened or ill at ease since landing in Hong Kong. The travel guides say that, with a few exceptions near border crossings and seedy parts of town, street crime is practically non-existent here. The biggest danger is actually dodging cars and other vehicles when cross the streets. Cross-walks, as we used to joke in New York, are really just target zones. Money brings out the worst in people, especially ...
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