It is 12-25-2011, and I have never been wished “Merry Christmas” so much in my life. The Chinese do not view Christmas as a Christian holiday; they actually view it as an American holiday due to the commercialization that they always see around this time of year. It is still hard for me to believe that I am awake before 8 every day, and can happily (and easily!) go to sleep early every night, although last night was an exception. Last night I slept around 1, as I was doing my best to catch up on writing, but I was still awake by 7:15ish. I feel like Superwoman! We left for lunch around 10:30, picking up Shuyan’s mom on the way (we were also to pick up her dad, but he took the electric bike as he also had work later in the day, despite it being Sunday). We arrived at the restaurant the same time as MIL and saw FIL inside waiting. We went up to the room and pretty soon everyone came in. Shuyan’s father said that I looked tired, and as it was the first night I stayed up past 1, I’m sure I did. They asked me to say wai goa (grandfather) and laughed when I said that, along with all the other family names and phrases I knew. They asked me if the other aunt was fat, to which I replied an emphatic “bu!” That made her really happy 🙂 And seriously, she wasn’t fat at all. The Chinese really love skinny women!
Shuyan’s father laughingly told the story of the guy taking my picture and my comment of needing to charge, and all enjoyed it greatly and looked at me in a new light. We ate a great lunch with some of the best seafood I’ve ever had. It was cute; the entire group went out of their way to ensure that I didn’t accidentally eat anything with pork, emphatically shaking their fingers and pointing to certain dishes. After we finished, Shuyan’s relatives (except her father) came to check out the new apartment, and we watched a few rounds of some decent boxing before they all left (my father would have loved this encounter), except for Shuyan’s mom. While Shuyan’s mom took a nap, I went with the couple to go pay off the last of the wedding bills (to the emcee) and we saw some of the pictures and a cut of the wedding video. I didn’t know that it was Guy in the Hat who shouted my name repeatedly during the negotiations! Ironically, on the way back to the apartment, he called and told us of basketball tonight. I really am hoping for the chance to play, and I hope he’ll be able to come without Crazy Girl (he did)! We came back to the apartment and watched some of the wedding video together, as well as viewed many of the pictures. I put on my sneakers as there was a possibility of basketball afterwards. We left for dinner around 5:10 and got there within 10 minutes; it was her old dentist who had become friends with her father that was hosting the dinner, and it was at a really fancy sushi place. The dentist is a super rich guy who just had a second child, another son, and I don’t know who the other guy was, but he was also rich. They both toasted me, saying Merry Christmas “Shan dem koi le,” as did Shuyan’s father. There was a brief discussion on Islam and Muslims and they thankfully did not pressure me to drink at all. They ordered A LOT of food; this was seriously the biggest meal I had in China. These three men also smoked like crazy.. the entire room was full of smoke and Shuyan and I had fun trying to blow it away from us. My stomach wasn’t feeling too great; I was definitely not used to the rich food. China has spoiled me! The men had apparently wanted all of us to go to karaoke at the super fancy Manhattan Club Imperial Gold Club or whatever, but Shuyan regretfully (pretty happily, actually) told them that we had other plans. I’m really glad for that; the last thing I’d want to do is sing karaoke with three drunk upper middle aged men… as fun as I’m sure that would be, lol.
We dropped off Shuyan’s mother at home, worrying about the level of intoxication of the men, and then went to basketball. The first person I saw was Guy in the Hat. Shuyan and I looked around for crazy girl, and thankfully she wasn’t there. As they were already playing a game, Hanshin and I went to the other half court and just started shooting baskets. I got Shuyan to join us for a little bit before she got tired and sat down to watch Hanshin join the guys once one of them left. I wanted to play, but I knew that they wouldn’t let me for whatever reasons. Shuyan soon told me that the other guys who didn’t know me didn’t want me to play as they were playing ‘rough,’ but Hanshin, Guy in the Hat, and the guy from the pool hall wanted me to play. Pool hall guy came and shot with me for a little bit, as did another guy who I never met, and both were impressed and incredibly surprised. I haven’t played in YEARS, but it felt really good to be back in some sport activity. Even though I didn’t get to play a game, I enjoyed myself. I know that I’d be able to handle myself, but joining a game would make it harder on the guys, so it was better to just sit and do my own thing. It was weird; while I was playing, the gym manager kept coming to watch me shoot and nearly dropped the cigarette from his mouth every time I made a basket. He went through about 5 cigarettes just watching me with his jaw down half the time.
I took some pictures of the guys playing, and tried to get individual shots but got mostly blurred shots of action. I’m definitely not a photographer! I went to wash my hands from the basketball but the bathroom didn’t have soap and only had cold cold cold water! We went back to the gym and waited for them to finish, as it was getting pretty late (already around 10). We’d arrived around 7:30, so we’d all been playing for a good 2.5 hours, and I don’t know how long the guys were playing before we arrived. When Shuyan gave the international female signal of “I’m ready to leave and you better be ready to come or I will leave you” by taking out her keys, jangling them, and beginning to walk out, the guys ended the game and began to pack up. Hanshin went to use the bathroom and Shuyan and I went to wait in the car. We took Guy in the Hat with us (his apartment is down the street from theirs) and dropped him off at home. Now that was a fun/awkward car ride. When we got back to the apartment, we had a discussion on smoking. Guy in the Hat is a huge smoker, and I discovered that Hanshin only stopped smoking like 3 months or so ago (I did see him with a cigarette during the wedding, but I didn’t mention it). He quit right before the wedding, and his father also does not smoke. Shuyan said that Hanshin used to smoke like Guy in the Hat, but he demurred and said that Guy in the Hat is a smoking legend, but that he did smoke a lot. In China, it’s an act of ‘diplomacy’ to bring a case of cigarettes if asking a favor or help from businessmen, and Guy in the Hat gets a lot of cigarettes from his workmates this way (so does Shuyan’s father). Culture sometimes is a really strange thing!
***Sorry for publishing without photos! I uploaded them as soon as I realized they were missing. Enjoy 🙂