This chapter, we meet Lin Xiao, the main protagonist of the story. I am enjoying the dynamics of the girls here 🙂
English Translation: Tiny Times 1.0 Chapter 1.2 by Guo Jingming
Original Chinese Novel: 小时代 1.0 折纸时代 by 郭敬明
Nan Xiang got down the bus and slowly walked towards the school. Along the way, she saw many fresh new excited faces. Every year, when school starts, there would be countless new students with excited yet fearful expressions walking into this renowned university which is well known for its luxurious and avant-garde construction as well as its intake of students which is made up of 99.5% of local Shanghainese students. It is hard to believe that a university can rely on its own teaching-building and library to become one of Shanghai’s top 10 buildings, comparable to that of Jin Mao Building, Oriental Pearl Tower etc.
The girls that were walking in front had just got down from a taxi. To be honest, the university is not located in the centre of the city. If one does not coincidentally happen to stay near, the fares will definitely exceed three digits – their families should be pretty wealthy.
These girls are typical examples of Shanghainese fashion. They had on exquisite make-up and when they occasionally turn their heads to talk the friends beside them, Nan Xiang can clearly see their 2 centimeters long eyelashes which have been styled to perfection.
One of the girls suddenly used the voice of Lin Chi-ling and read aloud, “Ah! These teaching-buildings are so tall and huge! And it’s all made of white marble! It feels like a palace! I feel like a princess!”
Nan Xiang suddenly felt an acid reflux and her throat made a loud retching sound. This sound had come directly after the proclamation of “I feel like a princess”. Hence, this made things a bit awkward for both parties. Nan Xiang waved towards the other party, “Of course, I’m not against you.” Clearly, the other party could not accept this explanation. Nan Xiang thought for a while and added sincerely, “I’m pregnant.”
The other party immediately accepted this explanation, displayed an expression worth ruminating and added with some contention, “Ah~”
During dinner, Nan Xiang had told me this incident and the opening she used was, “Lin Xiao, you completely have no idea what bunch of monstrous beasts our school accepted this year.
I had always admired Nan Xiang’s artistic talents. For example, she can innovate between many similar terms such as devils, beasts and monsters to precisely pick out such an expressive and vivid term such as ‘monstrous beasts’.
And this incident’s ending is concluded with the ‘princess’ being shocked and pained when she saw dozens of expensive luxury cars outside the school. Nan Xiang said, “When she saw the countless BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac or even Rolls-Royce logos, she finally understood she, who took a taxi to school, is not a princess but a maid.” Before she ended, she added, “Of course, I, who take public transport, am naturally a servant.
I actually feel very miserable when Nan Xiang speaks like that. Nan Xiang is such a talented person. Regardless of inter-school or national art competitions, Nan Xiang would achieve impressive results every year. It’s just that her family is too normal and everyone knew that a place like the Academy of Fine Arts is just like an incinerator built specifically to burn money. Every, there will be countless parents who use cars to ship in bundles of money to throw into the raging fire, causing the sky above the college to be completely covered with red plumes and foul dust. For a fire like that, the annual scholarship is peanuts. Pouring a cup of water in it, ‘zi zi zi’, it will immediately turn into steam.
However, Nan Xiang doesn’t care too much about these.
And on the first day of school, Nan Xiang is not the only one that felt like puking.
After Tang Wanru left the mall with grievances, she had made her way to school and started training non-stop. Now, she has already run 29 rounds around the indoor sports hall – every time after her training ends, she will have to go through physical training of running thirty laps within a limited time without fail. Every time she sees the well built women running in front of her, Tang Wanru’s heart would think, “why not go die,” and she will feel a sense of helplessness. Perspiration, beating muscles, thick gasps…. But are these words really suitable to be used with the term, ‘woman’?
To be an outstanding badminton player is not Tang Wanru’s dream but her father’s dream. (To be Lin Chi-ling is her dream…. Or if it is really not feasible, to be Vivian Hsu is also okay). And in this moment, her father is at the sports hall taking note of the timing of every member’s run. To have a sports coach as a father, for Tang Wanru, is an endless nightmare since young.
When she was four, her father had brought her to the swimming complex for the first time, preparing to teach her how to swim. He had met a colleague there – a swimming coach that is training his own six year old son. The colleague’s discussion had provoked her father and hence her father casually said, “My daughter had knew how to swim long ago” and pushed her in the pool. Thus, when Tang Wanru was four and still not clear of what was happening, she had been treated as a shot put and sunk into the pool.
Sometimes, when Tang Wanru looks at the mirror as she takes off her clothes, she will also raise her arms over her head and instantly see the well developed muscles on her back. In that moment, her eyes cannot help but be filled with grievous tears. Nevertheless, she will instantly be saved by her own optimism, “Wah seh! My eyes are filled with tears, I look like those weak female leads in a Qiong Yao  drama!”
When the water in the water dispenser in class is all drunk up, everyone will also naturally look to Tang Wanru for help, “Wanru, help to carry that tank of water and change it.”
“At that moment, I get the feeling of nirvana.” Tang Wanru once told us how she felt. But from the confusion in our face, she immediately realised that a phrase must have been used wrongly, “Don’t tell me that nirvana is not used to describe the feeling of extreme disappointment and despair?”
“Ya, in fact, nirvana is used to describe the quality of being soft, gentle and flexible.
“Really…..” Tang Wanru said thoughtfully, “How I wish my body could become nirvana!”
Nan Xiang and I revealed a pained expression.
Tang Wanru later found concrete evidence to comfort herself – after solemnly inviting us to her house to appreciate Madonna’s concert, she paused the image at the moment when Madonna was doing yoga. She took her straw, as if it was a pointer, and pointed at Madonna’s muscular arms, saying, “Look, even if there are muscles, it’s still possible to be a perfect woman.”
However, this type of self-hypnotism was completely broken by Gu Li who stayed over at her house that night. In the middle of the night, Gu Li had suddenly screamed and sat up in the dark. As Tang Wanru hurriedly switched on the bedside lamp, Gu Li, relieved, said, “I was in the state of semi consciousness when I touched your arm just now and I thought there was a man sleeping beside me – scared me to death!”
As relief wash over Gu Li, she saw the rapidly changing face of Tang Wanru.
“Oh, I mean….” Gu Li quickly added with a stern voice.
“Gu Li! If you dare say another word, I will go to the kitchen and turn on the gas so we will both die together!” Tang Wanru shouted hysterically.
Hence, Tang Wanru quickly got out of the bed, screaming, and rushed to the kitchen. Gu Li nagged, “Don’t tell me she went to take the knife…..”
As the member who finished last in the 30 laps timed practice run, when Tang Wanru lifted her head and looked at her father, she saw an unpleasant face as expected. This look can be associated with the word, “contempt”.
Tang Wanru pretended to not see it and moved away speedily, turning into the changing room.
She took off her jersey that was soaked with sweat and the tight tank top she wore inside before retrieving a dress and undergarments from the locker. She was about to change when she heard someone pushing the door open. She turned her head and saw a face she never seen before.
Most importantly, this face, attached to a naked upper body, is staring at Tang Wanru’s unshielded chest area, unable to move away. After 3 hellish seconds of silence, he blushed and said, “I… walked into the wrong place… …?”
Tang Wanru was instantly enraged with the question mark he had at the end of the sentence.
During dinner, Tang Wanru waved her arms around, as if she was holding on to her badminton racquet, and said agitatedly, “In my twenty-two years of life, this is the first time someone else saw my boobs!”
After she shouted this, the seats within a 20 metre radius of us in the canteen all turned their heads and looked at us. Nan Xiang and I quickly lowered our heads.
“It’s the second time, I remember seeing your boobs. Furthermore, the whole canteen now knows someone has seen your boobs. You can be a little louder; I’m worried the uncle boiling water downstairs might have missed your exciting broadcast.” Gu Li calmly picked up some food even while being watched by many boys.
“And this is not the main point!” Tang Wanru lowered her voice but was unable to cover the agitation in her tone, “The main point is, how can he be unsure that he walked into the wrong room! How?!” (In case this is unclear, it implies that Tang Wanru was more bothered that the male doubted her gender/felt like she was a guy by not being confirmed that he indeed walked into the female’s changing room.)
“This is not the main point! I do not care about your 24 dollars. The main point is that your tax reduction method is completely wrong. I can tell you, I learn accounting, anything less than 800 dollars do not need to be taxed. Furthermore, royalties should be calculated according to 14% and not 17%!” Gu Li carried the new LV bag her father got her and quickly walked past the sidewalk beside a building construction while lecturing sternly and louldy into the phone.
“Alright, alright, I’ll compensate you the 24 dollars, so troublesome!” the other person replied.
“I do not need the 24 dollars, this is an attitude, a professional attitude! If this is your attitude, then this will be the last time I’m writing for Monthly’s Affairs!” Gu Li righteously declared.
“Then this will be the last time Monthly’s Affairs will use your articles.” The editor on the other side was much more calmer.
One month ago, Gu Li was still very proud of the article she had published on Monthly’s Affair, an established financial current affairs magazine. It’s just that when she gave a treat to celebrate this achievement, Tang Wanru’s behaviour was the one that is truly remarkable. When Gu Li used an expression that was hard to describe in words except the fact that you would feel like giving her a slap to take the magazine with her article out from her bag, Tang Wanru nonchalantly gave it a glance and said, “Oh, Current Period.”  Hence, Gu Li’s action of holding the magazine as if it was a delicate antique froze in mid air.
That dinner went down the drain, it changed from Gu Li’s treat to going dutch. Furthermore, Gu Li crazily ordered the expensive shark fin and other similar food. Nan Xiang and I wore miserable looks. We hated Tang Wanru for denying our opportunity for a free meal but her explanation made us forgive her instantly. “With my cultural awareness, I find it really hard to accept that ‘monthly affairs’ does not equate to ‘period’. That is completely out of my knowledge bank!”
We all felt that what she said was very logical.
Gu Li used such a magazine to embarrass someone who barely attended cultural lessons since secondary school as she had relied on sports abilities to graduate all these while… it was indeed Gu Li’s fault.
 Lin Chi-ling: Famous supermodel and actress
 Qiong Yao is a romance novelist whose work has been made into movies and television series many times.
 The Chinese name of the magazine is当月时经. 当月 means ‘current month’ while时经 means ‘current financial affairs’. Tang Wanru mixed up the order of the second and third word and misunderstood it as当时月经. 当时 means ‘cuurent’ while月经 means ‘period’. Hence, Wanru thought that the magazine was about women biological issues because she was not exposed to current affairs.
I like the depiction of the relationship of the girls in this chapter. They are realistic, sarcastic and not boring at all. We also see some characteristics of each of the girls here. The chapter jumps of the novel is slightly abrupt at times, but it is a style that Guo Jingmin enjoys using. I think it kinda fits in the ‘fast paced’ feel that the whole novel points towards. Inferences are also needed to better understand the story, it doesn’t tell you everything. If any part is unclear, please ask me about it and I’ll try my best to explain it! My english is not the most perfect and if anyone correct my grammar, I would be more than thankful!
I’m having a dilemma over translating this novel. On one hand, I want to capture the original essence of the author by not changing the sentence structure and phrases too much. However, Guo Jingming is fond of using a lot of commas and it’s a bit confusing if I follow his structure. But when I break it up, it becomes a bit repetitive. Give me some advice, should I (a) translate as it is, (b) rephrase or (c) summarise and make every chapter slightly shorter? Summarising will not affect the quality of the plot while allowing me to translate faster, but the style won’t stay true to the original novel. Not sure which choice I should make, so advice me by leaving a comment below!
I don’t mind either options but want to read this story.