September 25, 2009

1 in Thailand, 3 in China

This week has seen James off in Thailand.  James is thoroughly enjoying the food, although he has tried (to some extent) not to gloat about it.  I was sure to mention to him that our neighbor brought us two meals worth of jiaozi (meat dumplings) and we been receiving moon cakes in droves.  James is a huge fan of both of these food items.  He will return in two days.  We're looking forward to it!

We are approaching two major events here.  The first is the sixty year anniversary of the People's Republic of China, and the second is the Mid Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) two days later.  It is interesting to watch the city prepare for their national holiday.  Every single shop, no matter how closet-sized is sporting a massive flag and hanging brand new red lanterns.  Every light post has anywhere from 6 to 8 red lanterns hanging from it.  The effect is that EVERYWHERE you look, there are flags and lanterns.  Its a lot of red!  Somehow, they even have managed to keep all the shades of red the same.  Its a very bright cherry (and cheery!) red.  Every school you pass on the street usually has students learning patriotic songs and dances in their courtyard and there are usually a lot of people gathered around the fence to watch.  There is a school right next to Ari's called The Beijing Experimental School (yikes! that sounds scary!).  When I drop him off at school, I sometimes see all the students, big and small, lined up in military formation marching to brass band music.

Meanwhile the bus is showing new videos on route to school.  One is an informational video on military marching and another is of a massive choir singing massive songs in front of a massive screen showing Chinese scenery.  The school that we attend is right beside a fairly prominent hotel and theater.  One day as I was leaving class, I suddenly found myself walking through hordes of men wearing bright cherry red suits and women wearing white silk, sequined dresses with glittering earrings and necklaces.  I found them walking toward the theatre, and figured that they must be rehearsing for some choir production.  

The country gets an entire week of holidays in the beginning of October.  

I have also been learning a fair bit of Christmas music on the piano this week.  I'll be playing in church a fair bit for the month of December.  Its really quite fun, even if it is early.  My sister and I used to start playing Christmas music in October (before our parents decided that Dec 1 was the absolute earliest for this).  I'm playing around a fair bit with the type of music, some jazzy, some traditional.  It is obscenely hard to get good music.  Apparently books that are ordered don't usually arrive, which leaves me with downloading off the internet.  There are tons of easy songs available, but finding Intermediate/Advanced music is rare. I have spent hours trying to find good music.  

Well, lazy Saturday that it is, the boys are waiting for their lunch, so...


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