Monday, December 04, 2006

24

Last week, Wu Lasohi announced that the school had some last minute tickets to a Chinese opera, and so we had to tell her immediately if we wanted to go. I, of course, signed up. And so, on Sunday night I boarded a charter bus with my fellow international students and headed to one of the most famous streets in Shanghai. I should have known better than to expect anything to go as I thought it would. First clue - TIC as we say, This Is China. Second clue - at the door, the girls handing out the programs said in English "Here's your menu".Third clue - no orchestra or orchestra pit.
So, as I sat in my coat and scarf (Shanghai is in the "warm" part of China, which means that most buildings do not have indoor heating) I began to wonder if this would be another strange China experience. The lights dimmed, the curtain rose, and out came a woman in normal attire, with a microphone, speaking Chinese. Well, not only am I completely unable to understand her (Let's play "guess the word". Oh oh, I know that word,上 . Oh wait, she just said 晚上好. Did you catch that? 听.) but now I am also utterly confused and laughing hysterically at my classmates attempts to listen for words they know. Finally, she finishes, the red subtitle screens on the walls adjoining the stage go dark...and the next image we see makes everyone. . .
take out their cameras and start taking pictures.Yup, TIC.
Is it an opera? No. Is it a concert? No. Well, what is it? It is the "Romantic Charms of Han Tang Dynasty" performed by the Young Dancing League of Beijing Dance Academy, and it is absolutely amazing. Even I, with my extensive knowledge of reasons why you should not take pictures of performances (copyright NOT being one of them, because TIC) - joined the crowd of people snapping and clicking away until I was asked to stop by one of the ushers. I tried to turn the flash off...


From the lighting, to the set, to the costumes, to the technique...it was one of the best performances I have ever seen. They did a wonderful job of combining East and West, in a way that was tasteful and beautiful. Imagine . . . astounding arabesques and pulchritudinous pirouettes followed by Olympic worthy tumbling routines and world class acrobatics, juxtaposed with the motion of a man doing a martial-arts move where his entire body spins while parallel to the ground. It was absolutely beautiful, and I am so grateful and glad that I had the opportunity to experience it. I'm truly thankful that TIC and it wasn't an opera after all!

And then today, one of the students in my Mothers ESL Class told me that she is going back to Japan at the end of Jan. So, she invited me to come and visit. She said she would be honored to have me as her guest, and she will take me wherever I want to go. Just to take it back for a minute ... WORD. She asked if I like "nature or artificial things", what I know about Japan, and what I would like to do. She told me to look at some books and decide what I want to do and tell her, and whatever it is, she will take me. So, I said..."Well, I'd be honored to be your guest. I am so grateful for the invitation. I know you will be busy, and perhaps it is too soon, but what about this date in Feb.?" This is an opportunity that I can not let slip through my fingers. The prospect of going to Japan and not having to be alone or spend exorbitant amounts of money (Tokyo is expensive) filled me with so much gratitude that I wasn't sure what to do.
I bowed so often and deeply that I didn't have to do my regular ab workout.

After work I decided to go to Wu Mei (like Wal-Mart, Target, etc.) and pick up a few things. While perusing the aisles, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. Thinking it was one of my classmates, I turned around to see a woman with brown skin, curly hair and a Midwest accent. Yippee! Turns out she is from Michigan, 29 years old and has been in Shanghai since the end of September. She lives within walking distance of Tongji, and will be here for another year. Oh, you should have seen us in the store, it was like a reunion. Laughing, high fives, exclamations, whispers - everything except pictures of the kids.
It was so good to meet her and trade stories, share experiences, laugh about the funny stuff, and vent about the frustrating stuff...without having to give the background, speak slowly, or worry about offending. It was an extra blessing for me, as I've been struggling with isolation and loneliness quite a bit in the last few weeks, feeling as I don't quite fit in any of my social circles (black with the white Americans, American with Africans, etc.) despite the wonderful blessing that all of my friends here are to me. At the end of our "reunion", she showed me something I didn't even know Wu Mei sold...notebooks with brown girls on the cover. I yelled when I saw them and bought both types just to support. (She, of course, already owns both.) What a wonderful 24 hours.

Here are the brown-skinned Asian girl notebooks. Cute huh? Glad you think so, 'cause if you are under 21 you just might be getting one in the mail. I would just like everyone to take note of one detail. Do you see those thighs? Those are not just bowed-legged girls, those are negative thighs. See what I mean, a space the size of Mt. Everest, even in a cartoon...

3 comments:

Between the Sky and the Sea said...

Fabulous!!! I'm so glad to hear you met a black girl in person and in picture on the same day!!! And yes, those thighs are ridiculous. I've seen them before but I can't imagine being surrounded by them on all sides.....whew....Keep 'em coming. Love ya!

Memee said...

yo- you and your negative thighs are crazy!!! my thighs have touched since the 80s. and i'm in my 20s. this is before babies and baby weight. chalk it up to the bigolbootytheory. what's that you say? i'll tell you later about the theory. it involes janet jackson, beyonce, black women track stars and black women football players.

Sacred Stitch said...

Please...I was dancing 10+ hours a week, and my thighs NEVER had inches of space. What IS the bigolbootytheory? You know Janet Jackson was my idol for a minute (remember that MTM?) Can't for you to expound on that one. I have a theory of my own about the negative thighs - this one involves juvenile women, weight, eating disorders, and body types. A posting about it is in the works...