Friday, April 13, 2012

3 on 3 hockey at Min Da

Part 4 in the ongoing "Hockey in China" series.

Well, this time I don't have too many photos, but i have a few funny things to mention about the 2nd time I got together with a gym class at the University to play street hockey.

First of all, 'hockey' in Chinese is 冰球 (bing qiu), which literally means 'ice ball'.  So, when I try to tell people what we are doing, I say something like 路上冰球 (lu shang bing qiu), which would mean 'ice ball on the street'.  Of course, there is no ice, but at least we have a ball and a street.  I asked the student from Inner Mongolia what he would call the sport we were playing and he said that he simply did not know.  So it is without surprise that, while a group of Chinese girls walked by, 2 of them shouted out 'zhe shi shen me?' which means 'what is this?'.  Yes, what is this, indeed?

Well, we ended up playing a 3 on 3 game with me as the goalie for both teams.  It went really well.  The coach, who has some hockey knowledge, preached passing and teamwork (always a good way to go) and things were really fun.  I loved it!  I might have been smiling too much, but it was fun.  One guy kept raising his back-hands into my chest and saying sorry for it.  I told him no problem, and in fact, great shot!

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I must pause to say that Coach Jia is the University coach that helps me.  He is Tibetan and I have known him for at least 5 years, since we play basketball a lot and he is the coach.  He is a lovely man, but also quite crazy.  There is just something goofy about him.  While we were playing he noticed that a young man, maybe 25, was trying to get his attention from the end of the parking lot.  So, we stopped and the man came forward.  The following was their conversation, translated for your convenience:

"Can I help you?" said coach Jia

"I'm looking for a sports coach from this University."  replied the man.

"Oh, what's his name?"

"Ming Ji Suo"


"Ming Ji Suo."

"Oh, oh no, he's... he's... (raises hands together to his head like a laying it on a pillow) he's in Heaven.  He went to Heaven."

"No, that can't be."

"Yes, this is not something to joke about.  He is in Heaven.  Where have you been?!  Have you been gone for a year?"


"He's dead.  He died."

At this point you could see that the young man was stricken with confusion.  He looked around at us, we all just stared back at him.  Then he looked up down the road to where, as it turns out, his father was standing.

"What?"  Yelled the father.

The son ignored him.  "It can't be him."

"No, he's dead." The coach confirmed.

After a few moments of awkwardness of us all just standing around, the coach asked the unthinkable:

"Wait, what's his name again?"

The man answered. "Ming Ji Suo."

"Oh, oh, oh, oh.  Ming Ji Suo?  I thought you said Ming Ji Guang.  Ming Ji Suo is at the other campus, just 2 bus stops down."

Holy crap!  Half of the guys laughed.  I couldn't believe it.  The confused man asked for more specific directions and then went on his way.

The thing is that he wasn't joking.  He really didn't hear the guy right.  How you go on telling a guy that his friend is dead without being absolutely sure that you've got the right guy is beyond me.  It was insane.

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After reading my hockey blogs, my friend here in town told me that she had a hockey stick for me.  I really didn't know what to expect, but I was very excited and grateful to get any sort of hockey stick.  Well, here it is:

Kazakh stick; maybe NHLer Nik Antropov used this when he was a kid

It's from Kazakhstan.  She used to live there and it is actually from before the fall of the Soviet Union.  It's a little piece of Eastern Europe hockey history, and I can't bring myself to use it (it's also very small) so I hung it on the wall.  Pretty cool, right?

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Finally, this week I undertake making goalie pads.  I went down to a little shop that makes foam mattresses and got the lady to make these beauties:

Cushions for goal pads.

It cost me 60 RMB, or about 10 bucks.  When I was little I always thought that the arm cushions on our couch would make great goalie pads.  Now, the dream is coming true!  I asked for no zippers, because I don't think I'll need them, but she put them on anyways so maybe it will be a good idea to wash the covers once in a while.  I am going to go out tomorrow to look for some buckles for them and I will probably use duct take to form them into pads.  As usual, I will let you know how it goes.

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