Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Tribute to Alice

"Are you content?" asked Alice.

"Most of the time, but not always," I said.

"When are you not content and what makes you not content?" asked Alice, who runs a small tea house a few yards away from the Far East International Youth Hostel.

I answered with a short list of things which we need not explore in this space. Conscious that I "should" be elsewhere voraciously consuming the ancient history of this magnificent, crowded city at places like The Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall ("you have to see the Great Wall!" sayeth the World), and the Beijing Opera, I was nevertheless content to sit and drink five or six different kinds of tea with Alice and her various guests. On Saturday afternoon, another Alex was there--a Chinese recruiter for PWC.

"PWC?" I asked.

"Price Waterhouse Coopers," Alex said. We exchanged contact information. I handed out business cards like candy in Beijing and, especially, on the train, where there were likely to be people interested in learning English, who live in Changchun and have money for private lessons.

You can get everything you need at Alice's tea house...

Alice's husband, who is a "very honest man," stands like a terra cotta warrior in a very funny moment shared by me and two community college students from California who are here on the first ever Chinese program offered by a community college.