Today we partied with the neighbours! It’s chū wǔ (初五), and that means people are finished the obligatory visits to relatives, so they start visiting and bringing gifts to friends. It seemed like almost everyone we saw this morning was buying or carrying gifts on their way to their friends’ homes (we were out doing the same thing). It’s also another special day for jiǎo zi (饺子) and firecrackers (but not like New Year’s Eve). So, we made jiǎo zi and ate lunch with Mr. Sòng and Mrs. Lǐ, and then had dinner with Shine Far’s family. Here are some photos, descriptions below each one (click for full size):
Mrs. Lǐ takes Jessica through family photos. She wanted to be a painter, and in 1961 she passed the university entrance exams into an art school, but was denied because one of her older brothers and several brothers-in-law had bad political histories (they were secretaries for the pre-Liberation city government). She says she went crazy for a while and cried a lot, but finally accepted a regular job in a state-owned garment factory making clothes. The walls of their apartment are covered in her paintings, but she never got to study art formally.
In addition to saying “hello,” “nǐ hǎo (你好),” and “gōng xǐ fā cái (恭喜发财),” their bird growls and barks like the dog and beeps like the microwave. They told us the more they can say, or the more they are able to learn, the more expensive they are. If they learn “dirty speech” (脏话; zāng huà) it lowers their value (so those people who told us about birds learning bad words weren’t kidding after all!)
After getting totally stuffed and chatting for a while, we returned home to rest our brains for a bit before heading downstairs at 6pm for a huge hotpot feast with “Shine Far’s” family (I really ought to stop calling him that, but he doesn’t have an English name yet; his Chinese name is 光远; Guāng Yuǎn). Around 10pm we had the obligatory jiǎo zi and finally headed home at 11:30. Guāng Yuǎn is our language exchange partner from the summer. He just got accepted into some American universities, so they’re all really happy. We had a great time. I forgot to take a photo during the meal, but took one during the jiǎo zi.
We’re so stuffed. We just ate and talked all day. It’s time for bed!