Saturday, February 26, 2011

Home Visit

Yesterday, I went to my friend Tracy's parent's house. Her family members are native Beijingers and so it was quite the cultural experience. I have been living in Beijing now for a year and a half and I am sorry to say that until this point, I have never been into a local home. I have been into people's homes, but they have had at least one foreigner living in their home...this home had no foreign influence. It was great!

Their house was in a hutong, very small and quaint, and although the space was small, they had it set up in a way that was really comfortable. Although they didn't have a lot, they really had some nice things and they took care of everything that they had...a quality I admire in people!

We had gone to the market to buy some food because they were nervous about feeding a vegan. We picked out lots of great veggies and Tracy's Mom's Boyfriend cooked the most delicious meal! He made a mushroom and cucumber salad with vinegar, a spicy tofu dish, veggie noodles with eggplant and beans, tomatoes stir-fried with onion, and eggplant stir-fried with spring onion, all served with warm coconut milk for beverage....delicious!

I am sorry to say that I could only understand about 5% of the conversation in Mandarin, but I could tell that they were happy to have me in their home. They were definitely hospitable. They were really very lovely people. What a great day!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Xin Nian Kui Le ! (Happy New Year!)

It is now the New Year for anyone who pays attention to the lunar calendar. On New Years Eve we went to a rooftop bar downtown to watch the firework display ring in the new year at midnight. I always want to remember what it was like. There were fireworks in every direction over the whole city. It was quite spectacular and really wild. It was so loud and it even looked like twice as many fireworks as there really were because they were reflecting off the windows in the surrounding skyscrapers. It was really quite a site. As we were leaving to return home, we had to dodge fireworks in the streets and stop repeatedly while people lit them off. It is also customary that a Chinese person return home no matter where they live in the world to be with family. So, Beijing streets were more empty than normal and catching a cab took a long time. As we walked the streets, I imagined that this is what it would like in a warzone. Smoke everywhere, booms from all the fireworks, empty littered streets. It was like nothing I have ever experienced prior. It was fascinating.