Dear Angela, Sarah, Robyn, Vanessa, Annamaree and Emma,


Standing with your legs wide apart, in a low squat position, exhale as you reach your right hand back and around your body, reaching down your front to grasp your inner left thigh.   Inhale.  Exhale now as you take your left hand and reach around the back of your left thigh to grasp your right hand. I didn’t catch the name of that pose so I shall call it the ‘Elastigirl’. Now just relax in that position while you read my letter.


In the spirit of embracing compound life, this morning I attended a Hatha Yoga class in the compound gym. As you will know, I don’t do yoga. I did try it once or twice many years ago, but my lack of flexibility coupled with an alarming lack of balance tends not to lend itself to yoga. It barely lends itself to walking upright. However, reading the schedule of gym classes on offer, yoga seemed like a nice safe choice for my first class, yoga is all gentle and meditative and stretchy, perfect.


I think it’s a fair assumption that I was the only native English speaker in the class, possibly also the only participant who can’t routinely shop for clothes in the children’s department. I rolled out my mat and attempted to follow the directions of the lovely instructor, who to her credit gave me just the right combination of instruction and encouragement and seemed to know when to leave me alone too. I suspect she’s met my sort before (totally inept, but with a degree of enthusiasm and a healthy dose of no shame). It wasn’t gentle, it was definitely stretchy, it was a little meditative.


I think I’ll go back next week, I feel a bring something extra to the class that was lacking before, a new challenge for the instructor for sure, and a sense of achievement and success for all other attendees, who must feel pretty great about themselves after watching my performance; particularly during ‘Elastigirl’.


I rewarded myself with lunch at home after yoga, and then with the family passports in hand headed on down the local police station. You see we’re still climbing the seemingly insurmountable stack of paperwork that will eventually lead us to our residence permits to live here. Last night Ross received an email from our immigration consultant, and asked me if I’d just pop along to a police station today and pick up a few forms. “Sure!” I said, “Of course, no problem” beaming with kiwi-girl can-do-ness, how hard can that be!?


So, armed with directions and a bucket load of optimism I found the police station and approached the first counter, and happily made my request. Well, apparently I am just HILARIOUS, I am actually the funniest thing they’ve seen around these parts all month! I could sell tickets to this show! As evidenced by the four Chinese men now doubled over with mirth, actually pointing and laughing at me. “Oh so no English?” I smile along; yes this is very funny for me too! They collectively contain their hysteria long enough to point to the next counter, “I should go there?” I asked, chuckling along, that I continued to speak in English to them brought forth a new wave of belly laughs; I smile my gratitude and move towards the next counter, and do manage to not burst into tears, but it was a very close call.


Trying to not look utterly defeated, I approach the next counter, with less optimism. I make my request again; I hand over our passports when asked. The officer shakes his head and speaks to me in Chinese (which happens a LOT round here! I really should be less surprised about this!).

“Do you have a translator?” I am asked,


“Do you have Chinese friend?”

“Yes”, I lie, “I’ll come back”.

I take the passports. I walk home in the rain. I make a cup of tea and eat some Oreos. I text my husband very mean and inappropriate things about our immigration consultants, in which I speculate in colourful language exactly how I think this process should work and who should be doing what. He replies and says all the right things, which is always the safest option when one’s wife becomes irrational. He’s a smart guy, and I feel a little better.


Now you may release yourself from that yoga pose, and go ahead and stretch, and do the other side. Don’t forget to breathe!  


Love, Katie xx

2 thoughts on “Dear Angela, Sarah, Robyn, Vanessa, Annamaree and Emma,

  1. The language barrier is tough. Alcohol helps! Seriously! Go to a bar, get a bit tiddly, lose your inhibitions and start trying to speak the language! You know you’ve cracked it when you start dreaming in Chinese. 🙂

  2. Am loving reading your blog, just figured out how to follow you.. have read them all and trust me, you are not alone, have been where you are. . Honestly you are doing fantastic and culture shock likes to ambush you… yes you are source of huge amusement now, the good news is, what they are laughing at is not you. It’s most likely that they don’t understand which is awkward and they don’t do awkward well. .it’s not personal. . Now I tried the yoga pose and am now numb from the knees up… Any suggestions?

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