Category Archives: Personal

Spock’s Unsolved Mystery

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Spock sighting!
Note: This is is more of a personal post with little informational value about Changzhou.

Yes, I have a cat that has been named for an iconic Star Trek character, but how and why he got that name is a story for another time. Recently, he disappeared. I came home from the bar on night and he was gone. This was really perplexing. There are only two ways he got out, and that was either through the door or out the window. The door was just not possible. So, that leaves the window.

Now, consider this. I live on the seventh floor. Besides a perch for my heating and air conditioning unit, there are no ledges, crawlspaces, nooks or crannies that Spock could navigate. If he went out the window, it would have been more than likely that he fell. As grim as it sounds, I went looking for his body the next morning in the shrubbery under my window. Only, I never found a dead cat.

I started wondering if he got out of the door somehow when I wasn’t looking. I went down to the Hohai Guest Center lobby and talked to a receptionist. After showing her a picture of my pal, I asked if any of the workers had seen a rogue kitty roaming and marauding the hallways. Nobody reported anything unusual. In the meantime, I kept his litter and his food. When I lived in Wujin, he got out all the time, but he always came back. Since there was no dead body, I assumed he might be alive. I tried looking for him, but I found nothing.

A week went by. I adjusted to a life without a cat. I had accepted that I had lost one of my best friends, and I was about to start throwing his stuff out. One night, I was walking home after classes, I heard him yowling. I looked up, and he was on a ledge looking down at me, desperately pleading for help. Basically, there is a covering that sticks out from doorway at Hohai’s north gate. It’s over the entrance to Hohai’s health clinic. In a way, it’s “sorta” like a balcony.  There were windows right above my cat, and I rushed inside to see if I could get to him. I couldn’t. There were just no access points. Plus, it was raining, and I couldn’t find a ladder. Even if I could, it would have been slippery and unsafe to try and climb up to get him. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to leave Spock there. I reasoned that at least I knew where he was. And that he was alive.

Eventually, I had to get my foreign affairs officer involved. She called somebody from the university’s logistics department. They came out with a ladder, and the guy climbed up, grabbed the cat, and stuffed him into my back pack. So, now my cat his home, safe, and amazingly enough, uninjured. Since he hadn’t eaten in about a week, he had lost a lot of weight and was now quite scrawny. That being said, it least he wasn’t sick or injured with a broken bones. And that brings up the mystery.

How did he get there? As I said, I live on the seventh floor. He ended up six floors down, and if he jumped, it’s diagonal and a long distance. As I also said, there are no easy access points or crawl spaces. I just can’t figure out how he ended up where he did. The mystery, though, just isn’t important. My kitty is where he should be: home. He is still acting a bit traumatized and is demanding affection every three minutes. As annoying as that is, I’m happy he missed me.

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The cat is in the bag.

Welcome to Xinbei!

This seems to be the appropriate place to start: a cell phone shot from my apartment.  I live on the seventh floor of the Hohai University Guest Center. In the foreground, you see some of the rooftops on Hohai’s campus. The school is the Changzhou branch campus of the more prestigious, and older, Nanjing campus. It’s a 211 school, which gives it a lot of prestige and funding from the Chinese government.  In the background, you the Changzhou TV Tower. I often call it the “Xinbei TV Tower,” because — um, well — Wujin also has a TV Tower.

Wujin is the southern district within Changzhou City. Xinbei is the northern one near the Yangtze River. Xinbei basically has more foriegners and expats than most other parts of the city.

Speaking of Wujin, I lived there for two years before moving up here. What is likely to be echoed in the About This Blog page, Real Changzhou will focus on exploring the whole city and the surrounding Changzhou “prefecture lands.” All too often, expats living in Xinbei tend to think they live in the only part of the city that matters. Simply not true.