Dongxi (things)

There is a camera crew in our courtyard. They have a table set up and all kinds of appliances. I asked the folks at the desk what was going on and was told that they are making a movie. It looks more like a cooking show to me, or a commercial for a kitchen appliance company.

The cost of food varies widely. In general, if you stay out of Western restaurants, it is much less expensive. Yesterday was my work day. I dropped Jie-jie at school and took the metro to Gongyuanqian – a subway station that, like many such stations, is continuous with a mall. In this mall there is a Starbucks with comfy chairs, Wifi and Hot Chocolate (no gingerbread syrup for steamed soy milk here in China although they have it in Hong Kong and Singapore. What a drag!). I paid 50 RMB for a blueberry muffin and a small hot chocolate (and “rent” on a chair for several hours of work time). Before heading home after working for 5 hours, I stopped in at Sumo Ramen for a huge bowl of miso and eggplant noodles and paid 18 RMB. We ate in the Hotel Restaurant last night: green tea, Ma Pao Tofu, home-style eggplant, steamed broccoli and garlic, sweet sesame pancakes and 4 bowls of rice for 78 RMB. Today I had instant noodles for lunch (4 RMB).

Laoshuh Mai informed me that Jie-jie needs to bring a Santa hat to wear at school tomorrow. I am off to the market this afternoon.

It took 1.5 hours to make the 8 minute walk home from school yesterday. Didn’t I say it was the most important part of the day? Observe:

  1. 4:30 “Mascots” from the local puppet troupe were on hand promoting their New Year Puppet show, to take place next Friday and Saturday.
  2. 4:35 – 4:50 Protracted negotiations with Huang Xui Li resulted in us planning to go to the puppet show together, buying the second most expensive seats (she wanted the most expensive and to buy the cheapest for her daughter because the child would sit on her lap during the show, while we were reluctant to spend the entire show with squirming kids on our laps).
  3. 4: 50 – 4:55 The assistant principal (who facilitated discussion with Huang Xiu Li) and principal were out to observe the mascots and wanted to talk about Mei-mei starting school next term. They also let us know that school is closed January 1 (good to know).
  4. 4:55 – 5:00 The kids ran screaming around the playground and we chatted with the scientist grandpa.
  5. 5:00 – 5:20 We walked slowly home, the 3 kids frolicking along the sidewalk, the rest of us watching them and engaging in intermittent attempts at communication.
  6. 5:20 – 5:22 On the last corner before we turned down the hotel drive, we bumped again into Scientist grandpa whose grandson announced the unbelievably exciting discovery of a melon way up in a tree in the carpark. All the kids wanted to go.
  7. 5: 22 – 5:37 The 5 minute walk to the carpark became a 15 minute ramble as grandpa pointed out the local vegetation and told us when the fruit would come and what it would be called.
  8. 5:37 – 5:40 We arrived in the carpark and gazed up at a tremedous melon-type fruit dangling 30 feet up, cars parked riskily beneath it.
  9. 5:40 – 5:45 We started back toward the hotel. Jason said he was hungry. Huang Xiu Li asked if we were cooking Chinese food. I replied in negative. She asked what we were having. Rice, Lentils, Squash, and Green Beans. She asked about the beans and she did not understand how you could prepare just beans as a stew. I told her I would make her some. She asked when. I said anytime – maybe when we go to their place for dinner next Saturday?
  10. 5:45 – 5:55 Huang Xiu Li and Granpda get into a protraced discussion during which they confirm our plans to go to her place and she invites Grandpa to come, too.
  11. 5:55 We part ways.
  12. 6:00 I scrap dinner plans because we are too hungry to wait for the rice to steam. We eat in the hotel restaurant.
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