Wednesday, 14 April 2010

When the Bombs Fell

This year February 14th to many people was Valentine's Day, but to even more people it was also Chinese New Year.  Unlike the previous year, I was prepared for what was to come this time, the noise!  I certainly wasn't disappointed, if anything it was even louder, and more unrepentant than the year before.  A couple of sleepless nights came to me and Kimi, but it didn't really matter as the daytime was mainly spent eating and drinking, and eating more, and drinking more, and eating a little bit more (and then being sick).

If I had to describe Chinese New Year in as few words as possible before I came to live in China, I would have said something like:  "Dancing dragons, celebrations in the street, fireworks".  But after living in China, I would now say:  "Fireworks, money, fireworks, family, fireworks, food, fireworks, more food, fireworks drink, fireworks, TV".

On new year's eve, I decided to take a short walk outside as midnight beckoned.  There was an annual television show playing, which is quite a large draw in China.  It is a variety show of sorts, with many singers, comedians, dancers, and a magician (doing tricks from the 80's) all having their own segment where they can wow the largest audience in the world.  It is mostly performed live, but some of the bigger stars usually decide to mime their way through a performance or pre-record their part (e.g. Faye Wong).  Anyway, the show was going through an incredibly tiresome comedy sketch, and for some reason the English subtitles on CCTV9 only stretched so far as to explain the premise of the sketch instead of just translating what was happening -- lazy!  So, as I said, I decided to take a stroll outside, with my camera.  What I experienced was nothing short of terrifying.  It was as close as I could imagine to being in a war zone.  The culmination of all the fireworks simultaneously going off around the centre of the city made it sound and feel like bombs dropping from the sky.  And by the way, these fireworks were not an organised display, this was a free-for-all.  I even saw somebody firing them out of their apartment window.

The following day -- New Year's Day -- Kimi and I went to have a very enjoyable family meal at her uncle and aunt's home.  They very kindly cooked an assortment of vegetarian dishes for me, and at one point I didn't think it was going to end.  New dish after new dish was coming, but as they were all so delicious, I just stuffed myself.  And of course, I had to do my fair share of drinking.  On more than one occasion I have sat down at a dinner table and a bottle of red wine has been presented to me which I am expected to drink all of.  This time was no exception.

The table of devoured food, notice my whisky glass and wine bottle in the bottom right
Alas, the fireworks didn't stop, but we were shown a new year's ceremony where food was given to Buddha, drums were drummed, and a paper boat was paraded around.  For me, it was refreshing to see some real traditional elements playing a part in between the eating and drinking -- even if I didn't understand why some of it was happening.

A slightly different table of food.  Not too sure if Buddha is into Pig's head though, but I'm sure he won't complain....
Other days in the week were spent very much along the same lines.  More eating, more drinking, and more listening to the cracks and bangs of fireworks outside.  We also met Kimi's uncle's new dog, a beautiful Golden Retriever:

I didn't intend to write all of this, what I was really getting around to in this blog post was telling you about the short video I edited together in response to the aforementioned fireworks.  It shouldn't come as a surprise that I called it:  "China Bombings":

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