Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunday 23rd January, 9:30pm, Beijing

It’s Sunday night in Beijing. I’m sat with Keer’s mum watching the Chinese equivalent of “Take Me Out”. (...“watching” is a strong word in this case...) The Party have obviously decided to opt for a host far less irritating than Paddy McGuiness – but perhaps I only think that because I can’t understand him. First impression of Beijing – rather impersonal. Crossing the roads is absolute madness. Being well-versed in the London approach of stepping in front of cars regardless of the traffic lights is definitely an advantage, but it only gets you so far – motorists do not seem to share my view of “if they run me down, it’s them who’ll face the manslaughter charge”...perhaps it’s more the case of “if I run her down, it’s her own stupid fault.”

Wandered round Silk Street Market today with Keer while she tried to locate a nail parlour – when we finally stumbled upon it, it was closed for (Chinese) New Year (3rd Feb). Eventually we found an alternative, and indulged in one of the more pointless leisure activities in life – manicures. Keer also got a full set of acrylic nails moulded on. I, on the other hand, have enough trouble with my chopsticks as it is, and opted out of the fake claws. The market vendors were quite literally yelling at and following me – “Hey girl, want to buy some jeans/bags/Louis Vutton/shoes for you/your boyfriend/your husband?” At first I tried politely declining, but then quickly realised it was best to catch no one’s eye and play deaf/dumb/mute, because the list of potential items and relatives could go on indefinitely.

The food so far has been AMAZING - nothing like Chinese take-away in England, which I am really not a fan of. We’ve had lamb kebabs (not quite the Turkish Wood Green way), liver kebabs, some sort of bean curd soup with fried dough for breakfast (weird texture!), and various dishes at the Peking Duck restaurant – apparently the best duck place in town – the duck pancakes were indeed incredible. Keer’s mum cooked dinner tonight and made us eat all the green vegetables otherwise they’d have been thrown away. There was a dish of what I thought were fine beans – apparently not, it was the green stalk bits on a clove of garlic! Garlic is good for the heart – it can “heal” a broken one, apparently. (Broken in the very literal sense of a “hole in the middle”.) I wish it could heal my sickness, my eyes/nose have been oozing since before we even got here. I think I drugged myself up on about twice the recommended dose of ibuprofen/paracetamol on Friday. A lot of people wear face masks while walking around; perhaps they can hear me sneezing my way over.
Keer’s little sisters are absolutely adorable. They’ve been picking up our (post-ironic) use of the word “blud” – it’s hilarious to hear a 7-year-old Chinese girl saying “Come on blud, let’s play hide and seek!” in a semi-Mancunian accent.

Tomorrow we are going to go and queue for train tickets and hunt down an open mic night for later on in the week. I’ve also been contemplating buying an acoustic guitar over here, if they’re considerably cheaper...

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