I like big cities but honestly 2 nd or 3 rd tier cities are the best. They have so much culture and personality. It’s cool to see the way things work. There is a system, you may not understand it but there is a system
that has been in place before you got there and will be in place after you leave….
Last week, we went to a wedding in Jiangyan (姜堰) near Taizhou city in Jiangsu Province. Small city. But there was constant movement. It was like everyone had a plan for the day & we just stood there while they carried it out. Looking out from my hotel onto the busy street was tough to describe. Because even though people didn’t seem to be stressed or even uptight there was a sense of purpose. A certain, “I gotta do this” to the people.
We went out to visit what I now call the most beautiful woman I have ever met. The grandmother of my colleague. She is 93 years old & has everything she needs in her strategically messy room. Things were everywhere but in place. She had her feet soaking in water when I entered. Then because of the commotion of visitors she put on shoes and came out to talk with us. In the beginning, I didn’t understand her so well but then I got that she was saying look at the flowers. They were extremely beautiful, but at first glance, not the first thing you would notice. It’s kind of an exotic thing in the background.
So we went over to the flowers, I asked her to take a picture with me and she obliged. I started to put my arm around her & she pushed me away! At first, I thought she got the impression I was being too fresh…lol, then I realized she was saying move away and let the flowers be in the middle. Wow. It was a much better picture that way. Simple details.
I couldn’t help thinking of how much change she must have seen in 93 years growing up & living in China. Through the Cultural Revolution
& Great Leap Forward
.…. To hear her life story would be very interesting.
That night was something I needed so much. A Chinese dinner. I mean the real kind. We walked from the house to a restaurant & of course everything was already prepared and in place, including the Baijiu
(白酒). The room was quickly filled with family & friends. Everyone sat as if in assigned seats then got started eating. The food was very traditional. Duck, Chicken Soup, Boiled Shrimp, Fish, Rice and lots of vegetables.
Everyone had a very defined personality. There was the host of the dinner, (Baba) who was quiet and reserved but was the organizer of the entire event. There was his mother who was very engaging and personable. There were two younger guys (approx. 32~36) that were business associates & family friends (who also doubled as our drivers back & forth to the hotel). And of course, the woman from the flower picture and her daughter (Ma) were there. And “Ma” was like a mother to me the whole night. The guys wanted me to drink with them but every time I did, she said, “Don’t drink too fast, or I’ll get mad at you!” That definitely didn’t stop the guys from toasting though….great nights
The wedding was the next night. Very interesting ceremony. We walked in and all eyes were on us. It felt like we were getting married
. We got to our table and sat with a middle-aged gentleman, his wife and their grandson. We were 5 total in our party so I guess the tables were fit for ~10 (a few empty spaces). There was food, wine and many, many toasts. The bride and groom were dressed as if at a western wedding. Her in a long white dress & him in a suit/tuxedo. The fathers of both toasted each table. Then the bride came down the aisle but not like an “aisle”. I mean it was literally the aisle between our tables in the restaurant. They went up on stage and said their I love you’s
and the official part was kind of over. They followed with dancers, games and other entertainment but really the rest of the time was to finish what was on the table. As always, there was an abundance of everything. Food, alcohol, sweets, etc.….
All in all, it was a great trip and one day I would like to return. Trips like that round out China. It is not all developed and bustling. Some places are a lot more laid back. Old China….