A Gweilo’s description of Spring Festival

My American friend spent the Chinese New Year with my family and me this year. Here is what he describes, check it out:
     my celebration actually started friday night when i was invited to join three other friends for a restaurant dinner celebrating the 24th birthday of a student, lee, who was graduated last july. we had a grand meal in a taiwanese restaurant bizarely called bellagio — sensuous rice noodles, a tofu hotpot, a lovely sliced perch and two crunchy veggie dishes that included lilly buds.
      we then proceeded to the biggest flower market in town near a famous pedestrian street, beijing road. every district has a flower market for the new year. down the centre of the street were a series of kiosks offering flowers for the holiday. the place was jammed with cheerful humanity. we edged along the way like everyone else, stopping to buy flowers in the crush. in the days before the new year, one saw endless numbers of people carrying flowers home, tulips, roses, pansies, whatever. i am not good at identifying flowrrs. i bought a nice pot of flowers for emma for the following evening.
      we ended the evening at haagen dasz, or however you spell it; i broke my diet with a spring ecstasy, raspberry and mango sorbet with tinned pineapple and fresh strawberries. m-m-m-m.
      this afternoon, i was invited to lunch wth the family of one of my favorite students, karen, whose dad restores and repairs antique porcelain. we met in his workshop, which was their home until they moved into the their present, more modern apartment. the workshop and former home was in a tiny alley street that seemed a throwback to another era, lined with crumbling brick two-story houses, still occupied. it was the home to which karen, now 23, was brought at birth and where she slept in a second floor attic she reached with a ladder.  how the place has so far escaped the wrecking ball is a miracle, what with growth so rampant in this town. i suggested they try to preserve the alley as a monument to former days.
     karen’s dad is truly an artist. he showed me some of his work, beautfully restored  porcelain, which to my eye seemed perfect. one could not see where it was repaired, the painting on the porcelain restored.   he hauled out one piece he was working on that he said was 1,000 years old. another was a gorgeous curved vase with holes punched into it. the design was rich and intricate with stunning, muted colors. how he could even attempt to restrore it amazed me.
     wheh then proceeded to a restaurant that was jammed with thousands for lunch. we were with karen’s mom’s family. they had had dinner the night before with her dad’s family  that included an uncle who ran a dye factory that was a huge success; he owned a lexus car. there was a dozen us around a table, one of scores of such tables in the restaurant, filled with similar families, or a feast — the usual steamed fish,  trotters, bok choy and mushrooms, a taro basket with stir fried carrots, celery and cashew nuts, fried fish,  a thick soup with mushooms, all on lazy susan under constant attack from us all. karen’s dad passed around high-octane rot gut which i passed for loads of tea.
     after all that, i staggered home and slept for two hours. i’m lucky to have these opportunities. more happy new year of the dog.

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