Spring Festival was ok. I suppose it’s difficult to get excited about a festival that’s not part of your culture, but nobody here seemed to be getting that excited either. It’s a strange time in the life of a family – one generation grown up, but the next one not quite started yet.
So, on Tuesday we went for the traditional New Year meal at a huge Sichuan restaurant on the other side of Tongzhou. It was a good choice, but the EBTBs were well in effect, and we ended up bagging up more than half of what we ordered. The food was very good actually, even V’s father didn’t complain about it that much, and the atmosphere was pleasant too, especially considering the laundry-based feud which had taken up most of the weekend.
On Wednesday – New Year’s Eve proper – Scarlet (V’s sister) was allowed to bring her boyfriend round. He seems to be running a pet shop now, and brought his new puppy round to stay for a few days. Xiaobei was no more than curious about this new animal in the house, but the puppy seemed to want to play rough, and there’s only so much playful nipping even the calmest dog can take. And so began four days of what I hope was no more than play-fighting, though it doesn’t look like it here.
In the evening we had dumplings and sat down to watch the most the most popular* television programme in the world, the CCTV New Year’s Gala. It’s a bit like the Royal Variety Performance, but not quite as adventurous. The first half had elaborately staged folk dances from China’s various minority groups, then the second half settled down into a three-hour series of “crosstalk” skits where two comedians – one normal and one stupid had a conversation involving a series of misunderstandings. Two of these featured Xiaoshenyang, China’s answer to Larry Grayson, and one featured the buttock-clenchingly-embarrassing “most famous white person in China” Dashan. Obviously I didn’t understand what was going on in most of these skits, but from what V says it’s a conservative take on the music hall school of comedy. Obviously satire isn’t welcome on Chinese state TV.
Meanwhile, outside the flat, the fireworks went on from about 5pm to the early hours of the morning. We have quite a good view this year, so we spent quite a lot of time on the balcony watching the explosions lighting up the street, the neighbourhood and the horizon. It was more interesting than what was on TV for sure. We had to keep the windows closed, though, as some of the rockets were threatening to come in for their explosions. The following picture was taken with no zoom and is uncropped.
I’d bought some fireworks of my own, and while I’m saving most of them for the birth of the baby we decided to set one off too. It turned out to be a Roman candle style thing, which was disappointing, but there was a bit of excitement when it started a grass fire which threatened to spread to a couple of nearby trees. I ran inside, took the lift up to the flat, ran down the stairs with a bucket of water, and emerged back outside to find that Scarlet had stamped it out easily without my help.
The last few days haven’t been particularly eventful. We’ve eaten a lot of tangyuan, played a lot of mahjong, and I’ve managed to edit some of my backlog of videos. Work starts again on Tuesday.
*Well, most watched at least, I’m not sure if people really like it that much.