Monday, December 7, 2015

It's one of 'those' days!!

Yup, one of those - a very typical 'China' day - when, for no apparent reason, everything that can go wrong will, and everything that should be perfectly fine, will go wrong too!! If you've lived in China, you've definitely had one of these China days - and the only thing to do is to grit your teeth, and shoulder on - hey, at least you'll end up with a good story, if nothing else!!

So today started off innocently enough. The errand of the day was to go to the bank, withdraw enough rmb for the next few days, transfer the remaining money in my account to our US bank, and close the account. Simple enough, isn't it - except it wasn't!! To start off, I had to juggle some money - transferred all the money from Ajey's account into mine, so that he wouldn't have to come in to the bank. Then, got my token and waited my turn at the cashier's counter. I had to spend a few minutes explaining to the cashier that I was leaving China, and didn't need the account in the Chinese bank anymore, and would he pretty please send all of my money back to the US??

Well, after a furious round of whispering with his colleagues, he comes back and tells me that before I transfer the money, I have to change it into dollars first - and then go to a different counter for the wire transfer. Ok, whatever, let's do it! Some more furious whispering - and then he asks me how much money I want to change to dollars. Umm, all of it??!! More slowly this time - I'm m-o-v-i-n-g!! Again, the whispering - this time I'm told that since I'm not a Chinese national, I can only exchange up to $500 a day. What now??

I'm not a happy customer at this point, but still trying to be polite. Ok, clearly, going the 'exchange-your-money-to-dollars-and-then-wire-transfer' is not working. How about I just close my account, and I get all my money in cash - then I can get it exchanged at the airport when I fly out? Oh yes, close account - but no cash - they can only give me a cashier's check?? And this helps me how?? Ok, then I asked the guy to give me a solution - I'm leaving in 3 days, I have this largish chunk of change in your bank, I'm not leaving it behind - so how do we do this?? And please, enough with the whispering!!

Short of yelling "Gimme my money!!" - and even that wouldn't have helped - I had nothing!! The bank's solution?? - find a Chinese friend with an account in the same bank, transfer all the money to their account and then exchange it - Chinese nationals can go up to $5000 - and then move it. Did that just make perfect sense - or have I just lived too long in China?!! So all I need is a Chinese 'friend' - aargh!! Ended up calling our HR, few (many) phone calls later - Ajey and I both have to show up at the bank with proof that we've lived here 3 years, our tax returns, passports, Ajey's work permit, and then maybe we get our money back!! And it's only 10am so far - this day is just beginning!!

Let's just say I was not in the best of moods when I returned home - and imagine my surprise when I unlocked my front door and stepped in. Why? Oh, nothing much - just a random Chinese lady sitting at my table, in my chair, and her kid running around my living room, touching Manasi's birthday cards and playing with the stuffed toys she had left out. Totally a regular, normal day here in Suzhou - not!! I almost hit the roof!! My ayi comes running down the stairs, totally flustered, explaining that the landlord had walked in to show the house to potential buyers!!!

I had a lot to say about that to my realtor - ok, I may have yelled a little. But seriously, she's justifying the landlord to me - ohh, it is his house, and he needs to sell it...No, no, no - as long as I'm paying rent here, it is my house, and whether he sells the house or not is really not my problem!! Besides, who walks in to see a house, and then just makes themselves at home with the occupant's things??? Unbelievable!! It's not even noon yet!!! Deep breaths, deep breaths!!!!

And it keeps getting better. My realtor was here soon after to do an initial walk through for the house - just so that we could get a couple of days to fix anything if needed. She walks in with another colleague, looks around, and asks me where all the landlord's furniture was. Excuse me, but just a few weeks ago, you told me the landlord sold all his furniture after he moved it out of the house 3 years ago!! A lot of back and forth - and what about the bedside tables, and the dining room cabinets, and the sofa, and the mattresses - where are the landlord's mattresses?? I'm this close to losing it by now!!!

I finally got them to agree that I had not secretly stashed the landlord's furniture somewhere - and they walked upstairs to 'inspect' the rest of the house - while I tried to settle my nerves with a FaceTime session with my mom. We're talking - and all of a sudden, I'm disconnected. Muttering a few choice words under my breath about the Internet in China - I tried to fix the problem. Rebooted the iPad, rebooted the main modem in the garage - no luck - so went up to the 2nd floor to reboot the modem there. No flashing lights, hmm, that's weird. Any more troubleshooting ideas??

Wasn't really that hard in the end. My realtor's colleague needed to recharge her phone, and without so much as a by-your-leave, in an empty house filled with unused outlets, she chose to - wait for it - unplug my modem to plug in her charger. Seriously, there at least 3 other outlets in that room - not to mention the rest of the house! I was absolutely speechless - what was I even supposed to say?? Please ask before you disconnect any of my electronics?? Is that a request that anyone should ever have to make in their own house!!! I give up - at this point, this is officially a China day!!

The afternoon made up for the absolutely absurd morning I'd had - thank you SB for listening to my rants, and letting me cuddle your little one!! But the day still had one zinger left - and this one was a real biggie!! So my blog-a-day resolution has not been going too well for the last couple of days - and I was kind of hoping to catch up by doing a pair of complimentary posts about Manasi's birthday. Since they were so closely related, I wanted to publish both at the same time.

And at 7pm today, just as I was putting on the finishing touches, the usually trustworthy Blogger decided that this wonderful China day deserved an equally wonderful climax!! Yes, Blogger crashed - and my 2 ready-to-publish drafts were gone without a trace - lost forever in cyber space. I was absolutely crushed - not only do I have to rewrite those 2 - I'm once again left without a post for the day!! But what's that saying - if life gives you lemons, make lemonade? I'm changing that to - if life gives you a China day, blog about China day!!

I'm putting this day to bed now - tomorrow will bring a fresh new day!! Good night, everyone!!

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