Pingpong is huge in China. It’s not just a casual rec room activity. It’s a serious sport.
I consider myself a decent player, but I’m way out of my league here. I recently played against Brenda, a 44-year-old Chinese woman who teaches English at Henan University. I could barely return her serve, which features more spin than a campaign flak at a presidential debate. And I’m told Brenda is only the second-best female player in the department. I think I’ll stick to basketball.
Not everything in China is cheap.
The other day, I went shopping for sneakers at a combined Adidas/Nike store in a high-end shopping district of Zhengzhou. I wear a size 13, which is a rarity in China, so I had to go to a store that sells Western brands.
Most of the running shoes cost more than $100 and one pair of fancy basketball sneakers was selling for $250, which is more than the average worker in Henan Province makes in a month. There’s obviously a market in China for expensive Western goods, but those sneakers were too expensive for my taste. I’m going to look for a cheap Nike knockoff.
We still don’t have TV in our apartments, but I’ve watched a few U.S. shows online on my MacBookAir. I’m particularly interested in the final episodes of “Breaking Bad,’’ which is one of my all-time favorites. Unfortunately, the Internet connection in my office (I can’t get the Web in my apartment yet) is so bad that it takes about two hours to stream a 45-minute program. “Breaking Bad’’ is worth the hassle.
The most recent episode ended with a desert shootout between Walt’s neo-Nazi henchmen and DEA partners Hank and Gomez. Walt is handcuffed in a car and Jesse is unarmed, so they can only watch. The show has a cliffhanger ending, with the guns still blazing. I’m sure someone’s going to die, but who? We know Walt survives because he’s still around in the flash forwards. And I highly doubt that Jesse, maybe the most sympathetic character in the series, is getting zapped with two more episodes remaining. A lot of online prognosticators think Hank will be a victim of cruel timing, dying just after his Javert-like pursuit of Walt has finally led to his arrest. Not me. I think Hank will make it to the bitter end. No so for Gomez, a likable chap who is somewhat expendable. I predict that Gomez will be killed, along with nutcase Todd and at least one of his uncle’s gang.
Of course, I also predicted McGovern would beat Nixon, Tyson would knock out Douglas and Argentina would win the Falklands War.