Chinese Kindness Abounds
As westerners in a city that seldom sees foreigners, we are often in unusual situations. People are curious...heads turn almost 360 degrees, especially since Brianna has blond hair. It is a miracle that we have not been the cause of car and motor bike wrecks as we walk the streets.
Yet everyone is unfailingly polite and greets us with smiles. One evening at the hotel restaurant we were dining alone. The waiter brought his 8 year old son over to take a picture with us. The boy joined us in the booth, began drawing on an art program on his dad's cellphone very intently. He paused to ask if Brianna's eyes were blue or green. After 20 minutes or so he had a masterpiece...a child's simple drawing of a head with big blue eyes, red lips and yellow hair.
One of my student's daughters age 10 makes beautiful paper cuttings. She has sat in on class a few times and is very lovely. she brought me some cuttings as a gift.
Our hosts, a rotating set of teachers, have been great fun and eat both lunch and dinner with us. They are very different personalities and each very enjoyable to be with. We've been to an incredible number and variety of eating establishments. In each place, the hospitality is warm and the food interesting and sometimes even unusual. The majority of places one has a round table with a large glass lazy susan. We are usually in a small room for just that table. This week we have eaten in a number of places that are described as "peasant houses" although they are modern homes in the middle of the city. Each has a bit of yard, and apparently if you live in the home and grow some vegetables you can have a room where you serve food and then do not have to pay taxes. The food is very fresh and prepared just for you. There is no sign indicating a restaurant. The dishes --a small plate, cup, soup bowl, soup spoon and glass come in a shrink wrap container. The logo says clean and healthy in Chinese. These are widely used in small restaurants since they do not have dish washing facilities. We find it pretty comforting.
The people at the hotel are lovely, this week we came in one day to find plates with bananas and cherrry tomatoes on the table. We sort of feel like gnomes as we go about the hotel peering in at wedding celebrations and birthday gatherings. The doormen are too polite to laugh at us in our elegant 2 yuan rain ponchos, but we did see a bit of a chuckle. When we return, they are at the ready with plastic bags for wet umbrellas...so we don't drip on the granite lobby floors. Each evening husekeeping brings by our China Daily newspaper, the breakfast ticket and a little slip noting the expected weather and temperature. We're waiting for one that does not have the rain box checked. Sixteen days in and I have yet to meet or encounter anyone who is irritable, rude or in anyway disagreeable...pretty amazing.[