18 February 2010

Healthful Advice: dispatch from China

by Cecily
My mother says:

In the two months we were gone, the only piece of mail we got was a first aid/health care guide booklet from the government. (Our mailbox doesn’t have a lock that works, which is okay because we don’t get mail. I check from time to time to see if anything has come, but that almost never happens. The person who sometimes watches our lobby keeps things in our box because of the no‐ lock thing; sometimes candy and snacks, sometimes other odd bits they need to hide quickly if their supervisor comes by. At the time of writing the box has in it: someone’s gloves and some candy, cracker wrappings, some folded papers and two pens.)

Anyway, the booklet we got covers every facet of a healthy life, and tells you everything you always wanted to know, and many things that you didn’t. We got one last year aimed at newcomers to the community telling how to exercise and what to eat, but I didn’t keep it, which I later regretted; the difference is that I didn’t have a scanner then, and now I do, so I can share! It’s a good thing that I am easily entertained…

The book is a miniature masterpiece of exciting dramas, with fantastic graphic drawings to illustrate the action. It’s all in Chinese, of course, but not being able to read just makes the pictures more interesting. The heroes are a typical family who are dealing admirably with all these tragic and terrible things. The children feature as the most heroic, and the little girl seems to have the most sangfroid of them all.

It starts fairly calmly, with the grandpa having a heart attack. (I interpret this as a heart attack; although I can’t understand why the little girl is so angry at him- maybe he is drunk instead?) Obviously the father is thrown for a loop, and the mother is just upset.

Next, no problems in understanding this, some people being sick: what is causing the projectile vomiting not clear… maybe drugs for the grandma, and possibly bai jiu for the dad. (Because of the dizzy symbol above his head)

(A picture is worth a thousand words!) In the section on first aid, along with great drawings about how to bandage things up, how to splint your legs, etc; comes: How To Wrap Up A Severed Finger! What To DO With It! All in four small drawings!

Then there is a section about cleanliness that has my favorite picture. The action here is utterly mystifying to me. What on earth is she doing? Why is the toilet shaking? Probably it is about earthquake safety, but why put that with the other directions on the page, which have to do with hand‐washing and AIDS? Why is the pillow so nervous?

Also on this page is a condom being smug. This picture is ambiguous. He also seems angry.

The authors of the booklet may not realize the subtext about Chinese life that is revealed by the next chapter; I have included a little selection of the drawings about being wary of criminals‐ disturbingly, in every case the evil person is obviously a weiguoren with blond hair and a chiseled face.

Except for the lascivious Big Boy trying to get the Good Girl drunk (the booklet covers almost all aspects of a healthy life):

On almost the last page, there is this great drawing to tell how to duck stray bullets: hide behind the soda machine! (FYI: don’t worry! This doesn’t happen here very often as far as I can see) Only after I had cut it out did I see that on the other side were directions about how you can foil a bank robbery ‐by bravely sending a text message on your phone! I couldn’t salvage enough of the picture to use, though.


  1. this made me laugh hysterically. i sure wish our govt mass produced booklets about dodging bullets and projectile vomiting.

  2. I just ran across this facebook page that says [url=http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Bet-I-Can-Find-1000000-People-Who-Have-Bad-Memories-of-High-School/344978068593]I bet I can Find 1,000,000 people who have bad memories of high school[/url]. I bet they will find 100 million hahaha!

    the page is here http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Bet-I-Can-Find-1000000-People-Who-Have-Bad-Memories-of-High-School/344978068593 I am so addicted to Facebook ha

    Happy weekend everyone!

    Anyway, back to work

  3. Mel- be the change you want to see in the world! I bet if you started making cartoony health care pamphlets and mailing them to people, you could force the government to hire you in order to save face. It would look stupid if they just stopped sending these things out!

    I bet you and Miranda can get a grant to fund this as a collaborative art project somehow.

    Joanna- I blocked out all of my bad memories just so I wouldn't have to join any facebook groups.

  4. cec, thank goodness you're around to reinvigorate my love of useless projects- between miranda's artistic ability and my interest in, um, projectile vomiting= unstoppable.