This past Sunday was the Lantern Festival, the last celebration in a few-weeks-long string of celebrations, all of which seemed to require weapons-grade explosives to be successful. I spent the evening with my new friend (and Chinese tutor) Jack, who invited me to his home for dumplings. When I asked him what the Lantern Festival celebrates, he said he wasn’t sure. I asked him if his parents knew and he said he didn’t think so. All I know is that there are dumplings, lots of dumplings. And fireworks. When we got to his parents’ home they were on the bed rolling out dough to add to their collection of what looked like a hundred dumplings full of meat and vegetables. They graciously offered me tea and after dinner cooked up a seasonal dessert called something like ‘tong yuen,’ rice balls filled with sesame or peanut paste. Being invited into Jack’s home was one of the more significant cultural experiences I’ve had in China so far. It gave me the chance to see how a vast majority of the Chinese live, which put things into perspective – something I find a lot of foreigners I meet here lack.
We finished out the evening, Jack, myself and his girlfriend, hovering around Jack’s computer watching an episode of Gossip Girl. It was the first episode I’ve ever seen of the show and as I watched Hilary Duff try to navigate the awkward terrain of an after-threesome relationship I couldn’t help but wonder, why this? But Jack and his girlfriend seemed to understand the jokes thanks to Chinese subtitles and although their circumstances couldn’t be farther (further? I forget the rule for this…) removed from that of the show’s characters I suppose it’s an outlet of American culture that might help them get some idea of…well, nothing grounded in reality. C’est la vie.
P.S. Gossip Girl is mentioned far more often on this blog than it really should be…
P.P.S. I have not updated my Flickr account in months, and am aware of this. I will try to work on that soon, for those of you who aren’t on Facebook!