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December 08, 2004

Celebrations in China

Terry and I have now completed our first full year in China (well, Terry has a few weeks to go).

We celebrated Terry's last birthday while we were home in the US in July. We were in China for our anniversary in November and my birthday this past weekend, though. For our anniversary, we went to the Cotton Club in Shanghai. Drawing its inspiration from the famous Harlem night spot of the same name, the Cotton Club features American jazz and blues. We arrived early (8:45) and had a great time, leaving around 1:00, shortly after the third set began. The Chinese woman who (according to a web posting) sounds like Ella Fitzgerald apparently moved on over a year ago, and that was a disappointment. For compensation, though, we were treated to a 300-pound American white guy who belted out some powerful Delta Blues, accompanied by a mixed group of Western and Chinese musicians. We are grateful to our new friend and annual vistor, Melvillian Lyon Evans, for telling us about this club.

For my birthday, we went out for dinner and dancing with our friend Zhou Ling and her husband. As I anticipated, Zhou Ling is a good dancer and gave me considerable help with the Chinese steps, while Terry had no shortage of suitors (including one who remembered her from last time). I was the "fanyi" (translator) for the evening, which meant there were serious limits to the topics of conversation. Nevertheless, Terry (who is able to follow conversations pretty well, especially when I'm involved, which means they proceed at a slow pace) remarked when we got home that she wasn't even aware through the evening that we were socializing in a foreign language.

Being able to socialize with non-English speakers is really a milestone for us, limitations and all. The prior Friday, we had another pleasant case of it. We invited one of my company's vendor's engineers, Zhang Zouming, out for dinner. His spoken English is nearly as good as my Chinese (and his written English is better), so we had a relatively robust conversation over dinner. He brought along a colleague who is just trying to keep up with his son's elementary school English primer. The food was as good as the company. For several months, I'd been asking people at work where we could find a good "huo guo" (hot pot) restaurant. By happy coincidence, a small but clean huo guo opened in our neighborhood a few weeks ago, and I noticed it when I was out for a walk one Sunday afternoon. All this talk of food is making me hunger. I have to go.

-- Norty

Posted by now at December 8, 2004 03:14 PM