Monday comes bright and early and Chef's porridge is beginning to seem a bit like part of a Chinese torture endurance test. It's complemented by the fact I am finally reading 1984 for the first time. Somehow the prison - esque food, the boot camp regime, the hierarchy of the school along with the sheer fear and dread I greet each day with have all run into one and the book seeps into my daily concsiousness for life at the school.
Feix and Camille have rejected the porridge since day 2 and come to breakfast with apples and chocolate bars:
"Vive la resistance!" grins Felix.
They have the right idea. This week Scott is taking the morning circuits (out of everyone he is the very worst.) This is because he is so super fit he has to make them challenging for himself. Great.
It starts with 35 press ups on the gravel of the basket ballcourt. Followed by star jumps, spotted dogs, then laps of the school culminating in bear crawling down four flights of stone steps. Great. I manage three but my lungs are heaving in my chest and my arms are shaking. Scott says I don't have to do the fourt set. It seems being a woman, old and ony here for a month they can go a bit easy on you.
Lunch is truly grotesque out of all Chef's obnoxious concotions – this – jacket potato and coleslaw made with chopped lettuce, onion and salad cream is the very worst. It actually makes me feel physically sick. I just think – I am ill and still hungry when I finish this – and I'm a 37 year old woman – what about the 19 year old boys who are stuyding here for a year?
I 'm quite angry on their behalf. Its not often I feel maternal but they are still growing – I think the school (particularly a fitness school) has a moral duty ad responsibility to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need from their meals, particularly when students have to exercise for 6 hours a day.
Wong has got us to do the mountain run (3k - half of it up hill) three times in two days. My lower half of my body is beginning to rebel. But I cannot face another school dinner so I walk into town instead with Jasmine.
I realise in order to talk to her I need to constantly have my head turned in her direction at 90 degrees so she can lip read. Its funny the things you take for granted. The Chinese are very heavy handed on the old horn. All vehicles love hooting a hundred times just to let you know they are there but sometimes she can't feel the vibration in the road of something coming so you have to pull her to one side. As twilight falls the fields on either side are wet and full with the sounds of frogs croaking. We sit down outside a shop and the owner comes out with some dinner she's about to eat with her husband. She offers it to me and after the potato debacle I take it gratefully – its sticky rice and chicken with peanutes wrapped in pandan leaves. Its perfect street food and its free!
I then stock up on my alternative diet to chef's abominations – tropicana fruit drink, milk tea - a cold creamy honey flavoured drink – and some very insubstantial dry walnut biscuits. It's ridiculous but because we aren't getting any diary or any fruit served at the school – my evnening diet has become filled with sugary soft drinks, chocolate and ice cream.
In the little square in town they've erected a big screen which shows Chinese women doing some kind of dance routine. The local ladies and children in the square follow the routine. Lots of the students - drunk or just happy on their way back to the school like to take part.
As we walk back the sky darkens and it begins to thunder. When the lightning flashes in the sky Jasmine lets out a little scream – there is no rain and because she hasn't heard the thunder the lightning has scared her. Its dark and the sky is heavy with rain. She can't see my lips so I couldn't tell her a storm is coming.