wesleysjournal (wesleysjournal) wrote,

The End of the Year

National Day Holiday was in October. 
I don't currently have the photos from that trip. When I have them I'll tell you about it.
The end of the year saw about a half dozen parties. Most of these were small affairs. The Zhuan Kou branch at NDI won some kind of an award. Even now I don't know what it was. The center as a hole received a small bonus which resulted in a KTV party. 

About a week before Christmas we had a small office party. A Canadian teacher instigated this. Had it not been for this individual the party would not have happened. It was his idea and it was one of the few ideas that this man has had that I was interested in going along with. For this party the foreign staff all made foods at home which we brought to the office. The idea was to treat the Chinese staff to western food which they might not otherwise get a chance to try. Part of the idea was also for each of of to make foods from our respective countries. Until this party I had not know that potato salad was “Canadian cuisine” but who am I to argue. We had potato salad from the Canadian, African rice from our teacher from Gambia and I made some chili which was enjoyed by all who like spicy food and pushed aside by those who don't. Our teacher from the Philippines, sadly, is unable to cook so she bought some cakes from a bread shop

I went to a couple of get-togethers in Wuchang with friends from the first year around this same time

The city holds a Christmas concert each year for all of the foreign teachers here. The first two years I'd had other plans so I felt like I should go this year. It was surprisingly un-Christmasy. I had expected a mix of Western performances and Chinese performances which is exactly what it was. Except I had expected the western ones to be Christmas stuff. They were not however they were very good. It was mostly classical stuff, an orchestra, a bit of opera, a lot of music that we'd all recognize from having heard it all our lives but which we might not be able to name. Then there was the Chinese stuff, most of which was good. Again there was music but there were also acrobatics and gymnastics acts. Then there was Beijing Opera

Nothing in the world can prepare someone for Beijing Opera. These are performances in which people act out old stories from Chinese legends and myths which sounds like it would be great... except it isn't... The actors, when they talk, use the highest pitch of their voices that is possible elongating every syllable into the most annoying sound you could imagine. When they are speaking they are strutting around on stage pretending to do certain actions. All this strutting is accompanied by several old men off-stage beating small cymbals and badly tuned drums creating a clamorously staccato insanity

If you want a sense of what Beijing Opera is like, just go to any daycare or preschool in which the staff lacks complete control of the children and imagine those children are all dressed up in old Chinese robes and wearing tons of makeup. You'll get the general idea and may well even enjoy it more. 

Still the show as a whole was mostly entertaining.

For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I did nothing. I was invited to a big party in Wuchang but turned it down. I learned my lesson from last year. Christmas in China is a shopping holiday. It has become essentially what Black Friday is in America, onl amplified by the quantity of people.  Stores all over the city give huge discounts in order to entice people into the stores. Because of this everyone in the damned city is trying to go somewhere. Imagine nine million people who really don't know how to drive all on the move at the same time. Traffic become horrid. Thanks for the invites but I'll stay at home

Last week NDI had it's annual meeting. This year they gave us a huge dinner at a big restaurant in Han Kuo. Most of the dishes they served I hadn't seen before, or at least I hadn't recognized them when they were served. There was plenty of beer and everything of course was free. Thankfully there was no Beijing Opera or I would have needed a lot more of the beer. There were however several performances put on by the staff of different branches. Only about half of these did Gangnam style. Much like potluck, when people don't talk to each other they all bring identical green bean casseroles. Gangnam style performances were the green bean casseroles of the night. It could have been much worse I suppose. I might have been the shrieking of a thousand cats being slowly tortured to death or something even worse, like Beijing Opera
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