Days later, while walking past unused payphones and empty benches, reminded of their use in old spy movies as secret meeting points, the teacher felt an exercise on spies would help to encourage identity-related discussions. He thought about showing his Grey students some photos of these payphones, asking them 'What would you do if you heard one ringing?'. As the artist had returned from a recent trip with a digital camera, having struggled to find a 35mm film processing service nearby, the teacher asked him if he would take some photos of the payphones for him. Unable to find a processing service, the artist later re-crossed the border with his exposed films.
The more refreshing the trip, the harder the return
Encouraged by the teacher's project, the artist resumed his own interest in some of the compound's open-air objects. Unsure as to why some of its trees had been painted white, and who would even do it, the artist eventually saw groups of decorators moving from tree to tree. Each one used a stick to measure how far up they should paint. Occasionally, the artist spotted a sapling with only an inch or two left uncovered. Wondering why it was not completely painted, he soon questioned the reason for painting trees at all.
They discussed calling one of the payphones while watching from a nearby roof or bench, hoping a passerby would answer it. The teacher thought it would have been interesting if a Grey student did. Nothing came of the prank or even the lesson plan.
A flourishing scene of prosperity
DVD man, street food man and Jackie. The teacher went to Jackie's gym, nicknamed Jackie Chan's House of Pain, around twice a week. Just a few minutes' walk from accommodation block 3, the advert on its roof read, amongst other things, 'Soul Power'. Jackie was both physically and mentally strong and quick. He gave a rousing ten minute speech, in English, at the dinner celebrating the birth of his first child, a daughter. Reportedly, he'd learnt English by watching the movie Gladiator over and over again.
Jackie frequently told the teacher that he should be worried about him, not his one-rep max weight training. Despite Jackie's accurate analysis, the teacher trusted him; feeling that physical strength was useful (not that he required it in daily life). Jackie used numerous motivational slogans when training the teacher and his colleagues, including 'LEARN TO FLY' and 'DO IT!' The artist also visited Jackie, but hadn't trained in Kung Fu since arriving. Jackie claimed that physical capabilities, especially aerobic ones, were reduced during bad weather. Consequently, sometimes there wasn't enough oxygen in the air for Kung Fu. Once spring arrived, lasting just weeks in this place, the artist hoped to train again. Regardless of air quality, the sensation of attacking someone remained alien to him. Nevertheless, he hoped to scare Jackie soon.
Jackie's new cat, Rescued Little White, lived at the House of Pain. Jackie decided that when Rescued Little White recovered from his broken leg, he would be renamed Fat White and allowed out again. Jackie called his previous cat Stupid Bowl. This followed an inverted system of administering longevity, as giving an animal such an unflattering name was reportedly an act of caring — pretending you don't like it so it avoids misfortune. Between them, block 3's teachers tried to help various animals from nearby shops, hedges and balconies, respectively:
- A hatchling (baby turtle). Bowie was eaten by a bird from 401's balcony.
- A puppy. Manuel was adopted by a local teacher.
- A bat. Bruce flew into 501's glass balcony door during a thunderstorm. The teacher put a small cardboard barrier next to him. Bruce left by the morning.
The Administration building's external lighting, in long feature-defining strips, reminded them of the movie Tron. The building had an extended porch with a drive-through ramp underneath, like a Las Vegas hotel. The porch faced a row of fountains which were flanked by the dual entrances of gate 2. The teacher saw the fountains being cleaned more often than they were on: about three times that year.
He often thought of the trees and silence in the farmer's woods opposite his mother's home
Owing to the numerous fountain cleaners, flag-waving guards and tree decorators, the artist wondered whether the Administration was concerned with style over substance. On reflection, the artist realised that maybe he hadn't sufficiently considered the value of these roles to the workers themselves. Under the title shit band names, the artist added Fountains for Occasions and Visiting Dignitaries to his journal.
Dear Teacher: I am B, and I’m sorry for absence from your class last two weeks, and I think it is necessary for me to explain the reason. I had gotten hurt in a car accident, which is not very serious but hurt my legs, arms, hand and my face, so I had to stay at home rest and let my families take care of me since I couldn’t move. That why I didn't attend school last two weeks. I had called my headmaster and teacher, explaining all these and had got permission, but I didn't give you any explanation. I'm very sorry for this, and I hope it didn't hurt you. Because I very like you, so I don't want to you to hate me, that will make me unhappy. Now, I am recovering, the wound is going to be recovered completely, so you don’t need to worry about me! It's very pleasure to see you again!
One evening, as the teacher climbed block 3's stairs, 401's door flew open. In the doorway, a colleague shouted, 'DON’T THINK I’M CRAZY!' then abruptly shut the door. The teacher continued up to 501. His girlfriend explained that their colleague was concerned about surveillance bugs, that they had been installed in block 1-3's light fittings. According to one of their colleagues from block 1, this had happened to some teachers in a different compound nearby. It was conceivable, the apartment's light fittings appeared large enough to hold surveillance equipment.
They escaped by taking a one-hour taxi ride to one of the few pubs in the city: a former prison. The artist introduced one of the teacher's colleagues to absinthe there. Playing darts after a few, the teacher’s colleague nearly hit someone with a dart. The taxi ride to The Prison, mostly repetitive views of construction sites, would remind the teacher's girlfriend of old Scooby-Doo cartoons; specifically the scenes when those pesky kids were being chased in front of a looping background.
'So I know that only when we become much stronger, will there be nobody who can tease us.'