Today is my twin sister's birthday. She will turn 37. I turned 38, because in China you are one when you are born. We spoke on Skype this morning and I joked that I was not just ten minutes older, because it will not be September 7th for another half hour on the East Coast.
In China, you are supposed to have one long-life noodle for your birthday so I abandoned plans for a fancy Western breakfast with my girlfriend and had noodles. We will share lunch together, too, and dinner with twenty to forty people at a Muslim restaurant. People will bring obscure fruit, red envelopes full of money (if they can't read the invitation, which asks them not to) and drink white liquor. It may end with a sojourn to KTV, or karaoke.
This afternoon, I will spend some time showing Shannon the wonders of Changchun. Who, you might ask? Shannon is a recent Phillips Exeter Academy graduate (my alma mater) who has taken four years of Chinese. She is a dear friend's daughter and will be here for six months to help me with my work. Yesterday, I took her to nearby South Lake Park and she was amazed by the acres of lotus leaves and blossoms.
Everybody stared at the two foreigners, which she did not find off-putting, but like her tour guide, rather endearing and amusing. "They are the most beautiful babies," she said. I objected strenuously and she looked puzzled. I then said that inter-racial ones are more beautiful.
I spent the morning reading a dirty book (Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence) and drinking fancy coffee out of a pretty tea cup at TongRen Bookstore. Life is good.
Thanks for the birthday wishes on Facebook and QQ and by text. Hope you are enjoying the blog posts.