I went to the movies the other night with my Chinese friend James. “The most exciting conception China since cinema began,” our ticket stubs declared, so naturally I had high hopes for our accommodations, as well as Avatar, the cinematic juggernaut that I’ve been hearing about via the interwebs for weeks. The theater itself was quite nice and we got to watch the movie in 3D, which made me feel so “on the cusp.” The movie was in English with Chinese subtitles, but the storyline was so cliched that it wouldn’t have made a difference if the movie was dubbed into Chinese…
The picture above is of my new friend Flora and I in our 3D glasses giving the customary “V for Victory” sign that an entire generation of Chinese feel compelled to make in their photos. As the movie ended I couldn’t help but wonder if my friends or fellow moviegoers saw the irony in watching a movie with such a strong environmental message as we stepped out of the newly constructed megamall complex and drove off into the surrounding “development area” consisting of so much rubble and the hollow shells of vacant buildings.
Earlier in the evening James had taken me out to dinner at a hole in the wall mom & pop place (I call them “kitchens” because they’re sort of restaurants but not by any American standards and definitely not according to any American health codes) that served lamb soup. I ordered the lamb’s “this” (as James pulled at the back of his hand) and James ordered the “body,” which included the lamb’s brain and liver – brains really do bear an uncanny resemblance to cauliflower. I didn’t have the courage to stomach Lambchop’s internal organs to James’ disappointment, so James had two helpings. And the world’s natural balance remained in tact…
As we drove from dinner to pick up Flora James divulged that he had to “make a cake in the toilet.” “Not cake to eat,” he laughed. Couldn’t you use the bathroom at the café when we pick up your friend? “If I use the WC in the café I feel sorry for people.” Well said, James.
I met up with my American friend Allen this afternoon for a quick coffee and we made plans to rendezvous next week. Maybe we’ll get dinner or motivate each other to work out. “I can lift up to 20 lbs. without crying,” I assured him in hopes of securing a gym buddy. I’ve got nothing to occupy my weekdays for the next two weeks leading up to my school’s winter session, during which we work every day (including weekends, still), so I can be forgiven for savoring these remaining days of sleeping in late and feeling accomplished when I send one e-mail. Right?