Hi again! Today we are going to delve into the suffocating grips of poverty, starvation and the things people will do when faced with the most basic of desires; namely, the desire to keep your stomach full. The visions and urges which creep up upon when you hear the symphony of starvation #anodetomygrumblingbelly. What can that do to a person and what can we learn from it.Let’s shake n’ bake with “Money Management.”
Once again we meet a young Tyrone Yearwood happily enjoying his first true dalliance with freedom, independence and everything that young people want i.e, their own space. Our protagonist, no stranger to the responsibilities of living by himself, was well equipped with an armada of house managing skills. Vacuuming, washing wares, doing laundry, dusting, gardening were all gems in my treasure of house keeping skills. Armed with them and the one I took the most pride in, my cooking, I was sure that I could handle anything which came my way. So went my life for a few weeks, quite uneventful, not really deviating from my daily retinue, until one day when I said to myself, but wait, I feel like cooking tonight. It was with this one germ of thought, that everything began to unravel.
Why and How you may be asking yourself? First off, in order to cook, you need food, so I had to spend money of that. Secondly, and arguably even more to the point, is that to cook, you need things in which to cook in, such a pots, pans, etc etc. Thirdly, finally, you also needed plates, bowls, cups, dishwashing soap and so on. Thus, with my brilliant idea to cook for myself instead of taking myself to the various canteens and restaurants on campus, I had already set the wheels of poverty into. Well, poverty is too strong of a word, let’s just say temporary impoverishment aka, the poor man effect.
In my first years abroad, something which I usually did, call it pride, call it ignorance, it doesn’t matter now because I can’t change the past, ws that I wanted to do it on my own. You know, being in control of your own finances and not being beholden to anyone else. Thus, on many occasions I refused to ask my family for ‘economic assistance’. At the beginning I got by quite well on the 1400 RNB living allowance provided by the Scholarship, but when I decided to undertake cooking, that when disappeared, fast. At the beginning of the month, I took myself and my cash to the supermarket. I bought the pots and the pans, and the rice and the food, and the plates and the bread, I bought like I was buying still buying stuff at home. It was only when I got to the cashier and the bill was around 700 RNB that it dawned upon me maybe i’ve made a mistake, because for the rest of the month, a good 25 days I’d only have just about 600 RNB to sustain me.
So I took my stuff back to the dorm, but when I got to the dorm I lost all desire to cook. This desire to not cook actually persisted until I looked into my wallet one day and realised, wait, why don’t I have any money? Luckily, by that time it was around the 20th, so it met I only had to make it through the next 2 weeks or so, before the next living allowance was posted. I thought to myself, I can do that right?
For the first few days I cooked the rice, but because I had no refrigerator, I was forced to accompany it with eggs. Every preparation of eggs you can imagine,scrambled, fried, boiled, you name it, I made and ate it. That lasted for a good 5 days until when I looked into the egg container and realised, the eggs were gone. I had eaten them all, considering I was eating them for both lunch and dinner. Luckily I had bought a loaf of bread, which amazingly had not gone bad, so now I turned my sights towards Rice flavoured with salt and two thins slices of bread per day ( One for lunch, one fore dinner) This last for all of 2 days, when I really ran out of food, and guess what that very evening I ran out of drinking water too. I was in trouble, and I was getting hungry and thirsty. I had 3 days left, but basically nothing to eat and nothing to drink.
The now most pressing matter was hydration. In the classroom building there were numerous public water coolers where you could drink water. They kept me hydrated during the day, and often I would catch a bottle and take it back to my dorm at night. However, at night, I would often drink it all and then try to go immediately to sleep in order to escape from my thirst and hunger. The first day of those 3 days without food passed as such, however, on the second day I woke with a throat so dry, it felt like sandpaper. Unbelievably thirsty, I ran to the washing room and turned on the tap. The cool water dribbled forth and seemed to say to me, come on, have a sip, you know you want it. I looked at that water and every warning sign, everything I ever knew was screaming, Don’t even think about drinking that pipe water, Chinese unfiltered pipe water, are you mad! However, I shut up those voices and drank that water down. As soon as I took my first swallow, I knew that I’d be sorry, and you think I stop but no, not me. I drank about three minutes of that water and was satisfied for about another 3 minutes after I had finished. In fact I was so pleased with myself that I went back to my room, and realised my room mate had gone out. My roommate, Said, usually kept an entire box of baked buns in his drawer, and so now that I was filled with nasty tap water, my hunger stood up and said well what about me man? Hearing my stomach grumbling, I went over to Said’s desk, took 2 buns and ate them so slowly, chewing every nibble with a passion and determination you wouldn’t have believed was possible, and thinking, oh god, this is good! Filling my belly with pipe water and store bought baked buns left me feeling so good that I returned to my bed and went soundly back to sleep. Everything was perfect and as I was being caressed by the downy tendrils of sleep, I feel myself mentally “high-fiving” myself and thinking I’d survived. Everything was working out remarkably well, until about 15 minutes later when I literally jumped from my bed with the worse stomachache imaginable and ran to the bathroom, where I stayed for a solid 25 minutes. The pain and cramps were so intense that I could even go to class that day. I spent the entire day writhing on my bed groaning, feeling cold, but still sweating as if it was 200 degrees.
Luckily, because of the debilitating nausea, I completely lost my appetite, and didn’t drink or eat for that entire day and it wasn’t until the day after that I returned to class. Even more luckily, was that when one of my friends saw how haggard I looked, and when I explained how I got water poisoned to her, she said poor boy, and bought me lunch, which at that time was like a christmas feast in my eyes.
What did I learn from this experience:
1: Trust your friends and family, if you need help, ask. In fact, Ask the day before the day you think that things will be bad enough that you would have to ask in the first place.
2: DO NOT DRINK the tap water in China. NO ONE DOES IT, so do even try and if you really have no choice, then boil it first!!
3: DO NOT PLAN without thinking ahead! It’s a killer.
4:DO NOT EVER go on an Egg and Rice diet. It ends up being BERI BERI and HIGH CHOLESTEROL.
Thanks for reading and see you in the next Issue of “Bajan” Chinese Style!