3:50 P.M.

The day is long, and I've done much for others, hence myself. I'll explain shortly.

I used the phone place to call my family and wish my father a happy birthday, and then went to eat some breakfast. I decided to give the cafe from which I leech internet a try, so I went and ordered a fruit salad with some mango juice, along with some Muslim bread I had ordered elsewhere earlier and I still carried with me. It was alright, nothing special. The internet didn't work, though, so it wasn't really worth it. Won't be eating there again.

The cafe tries really, really hard to be hip and chic. Disorder, with a park table inside with cushions and the obligatory ash tray (with ashes!). There were giant hookah things for those who wished to smoke, movie posters, the mandatory Che Guevarra poster that all rebels must own, with MTV blaring and fruits and soda cans everywhere.

Eh. Whatever.

So, I left and retired to my room, awaiting the time to pass so I could pester the people in administration as to why I had no test to take. Before the time was up, there was a rapid, bold knocking at the door, most unlike the timid knock of the maids and the authoritative knock of the teachers. It was a fellow whom I had helped earlier, named Abel, from Libya. He wondered if I'd accompany him to help him out with a few errands. "Sure," I replied. It's not like I had special things pending.

We wandered about, my trying to get my things done, he trying to get his. We got nothing done, because the administration forgot to mention that they are still registering new students, so no one can or will help us. So, after walking for 2 hours without rest, we trudge back to the dormitory area.

Whereupon we are contacted by a fellow from Sweden. Lukas is his name, and he's fairly lost, being a recent arrival. We give him a tour of the school, and the grateful man asks us to meet up later to just hang about and glean more information from the school about us. Again, I have nothing to do, so why not?

So, Abel and I return to our dorms again. And, at the same spot the man from Sweden stopped us, Abel notices a woman that looks quite hapless. I heave a small sigh, and stride over to her and say "English or Espanol?" She breaks into a grin, says "English" and asks us where dormitory 9 is. Since Abel lives in 9, and I in 8, we offer to walk her there.

On the way, it become rapidly apparent that English is not her forte, so I keep it simple. I make sure she's not reshuffled to building 1 (my ears pick up the words "lou yi") and, after making sure she isn't, I ask her if she should need more help, to please seek me out.

Abel retired to his room, and I decided to mess around on the internet a bit. As I walked to the cafe, I realized something. I felt quite "solid." Not a warm and fuzzy feeling, and not genuine happiness or glee. It was a feeling of, well, it's an odd combination of "this is me, and this is who I am" and a feeling of confidence.

Quite simply, I enjoy helping people, and I'm glad I'm going to make it my life's work. Business may not sound like the most charitable of things to do in your life, but I've worked it out so that I may do much more that I ever could in anything else. Being able to help so many students recently (7 by the last count) is just a very good, accomplished feeling, despite the fact that I did nothing for myself.

All this before 4 P.M.

I'm going to go investigate the mailroom now and see if I've received the camera cable my father sent me, and will check out the cafe again for internet.

Ah, and I've solidified that the coffee I buy is pretty much required. Confident enough to refuse politely, I, well, refused to buy anything. She quickly spouted a stream of Chinese, from which I heard "Sorry, "you must," "buy," and "not ok." I am rather irked. I bought breakfast here this morning, and the damned internet wasn't working then. Do I have to buy something every damn time I'm in the vicinity? Cripes.

I hope they don't charge me again, or I'm going to figure out how to get internet in my dorm. I can't be buying mango juice (the most cost effective thing they have) every day or twice a day. : /

7:03 P.M.

So, I have found my allies again, Fiona and Tati. Thank goodness. We plan to hang out soon. Tati will aid us in our Chinese (she's brilliant, really) and she's going to see if she can learn how to acquire a phone so she can teach me, in turn. Most excellent.

We've also acquired interviews as transcripts for a Chinese newspaper as English transcribers. We just take clips from CNN that they send us and then we write everything we hear down.

The Next Day:

I'll probably have something like this on most notes, where I write down what I forgot to mention.

In this case, it wasn't so much as "forgot" as "god damn, I don't want to think about it." I lost the Bhagavad-Gita early on in the day. Losing a holy book is never a good omen, although I suppose burning bushes aren't supposed to be, either. Either way, I was upset, since I was thinking of reading that, next. I supposed that in the many travails of the day I had simply taken it out of my bag and left it somewhere for a second, then wandered off again.

So, I set out of my dormitory, intending to retrace my steps in a effort to find it, when I felt hungry. I went to take out some money from the ATM, since I was starting to run low. I was feeling rather good about things; my financial situation had stabilized, and classes are going to start soon. Not to mention there is the possibility of me returning early and being able to attend the Spring Semester. So, all in all, it was going rather well, aside from the whole "cripes, I lost a holy book" thing.

As I retrace my steps, I set foot inside the banking building, and spy the ATM machine. I step up to it, withdraw a goodly sum, sufficient to last me a week, and perhaps buy an adapter and perhaps some milk to boot. As I walk away happily, I'm halfway to my next destination when I decide I should take out some more money, just in case. Have a reserve for a rainy day, or some much. I walk towards the second ATM machine, and I open my wallet to take out my ATM card.

Which is very much missing.

I suspect my eyes exited my head at the sight and immediately scanned the wallet, as if it'd reveal itself if I stared hard enough. I quickly turned around and ran towards the bank again pellmell. It was around 8 at night, and I hoped that no one was around or needed to use the ATM at that hour. What idiot uses the ATM so late, anyhow?

As I dashed inside, I noted that the building was vacant, and strode quickly towards the machine, hoping to see a smidgen of green within the ATM card slot.

Alas, it was empty. I waited there, hoping the person who took it might come back with it. What use is it, a piece of plastic? Without the PIN, you can't get anywhere with it, I reasoned. Surely, they will return, or be in the area. So, I wandered a bit, returning every so often, and finally came to the conclusion that, indeed, there was no getting it back.

So, I find myself cardless, and with enough money to provide for enough food for 8 days. 2 of those days are useless, since it is the weekend and practically nothing can get done. Should I attempt to communicate with my family in any way, it'll probably cost me a meal.

Not to mention that the mailing system at this university is wholly unwieldy, so sending me an extra ATM card probably isn't the best of ideas. Nay, I'll probably have to open an account here of some sort at a bank, and see if I can transfer the funds there. That, or see if my account is an international account by default and see if I can just withdraw funds at the local bank.

I eat dinner with a companion (my headache), and I return to my dormitory, frustrated. I arrive, fully intending to put the issue out of my head until I can actually do something about it. I take the covers off of my bed, when I spy the Bhagavad-Gita under one of my pillows. "Excellent!" I think. Perhaps this means I shall find my card, also! Not in my room, I quickly reason, but perhaps the administration will get a hold of it and return it to my dorm or some such. Until Tuesday morning (I'm 12 hours ahead, so I have to wait a little longer so I can do anything with the U.S.) I can't really do anything about the situation.

Hopefully I can post this this morning without having to pay the spider at the cafe anything. Or I can investigate the internet in the dormitory. I found the Ethernet port, but I don't know if I have to pay upfront or at the end of the month. The latter would be a god send.