January 29, 2010

Re: The Tiger Crouches

The most important event in the Chinese calendar is fast approaching.  It goes by the names Chun Jie or Xin Nian, but we refer to it as Spring Festival or Chinese New Year.  Traditionally, the Chinese follow a lunar calendar.  We are now entering the Year of the Tiger.  The new year is very important. This is the time that most people hop on a train, no matter how far away they live, to return to their home town and celebrate with their family.  Schools break for an entire month.  This year the new year falls on February 14.  

Ari's school had a new year's school performance.  Actually, it would be more rightly termed a New Year's Extravaganza.  Despite the fact that we are talking about kids aged 3-6, it was an event to behold.  Held at a theater in China's most prestigious post secondary institution, Peking University, (with the important opportunity of having your child's picture taken at the main gate), admission was charged at ~$5 per person.  We had to drop Ari at an inconvenient bus stop (where a Greyhound-like bus chauffeured the children) at 7:50 in the morning only to then fight the morning subway traffic to get there ourselves.  The program started at 9:00 am (nothing like a convenient time for parents).

They handed out glossy multipage programs outlining four acts (4-5 hours long in total), each composed of 7 different performances.  We contemplated that Ari's performance might be near the beginning so that we could leave early, but quickly discovered that his performance was in the fourth act.  It didn't take long to decide that it might be most prudent for James to attend and for Jude and I to stay home.  Nothing like five hours of watching young children dance to music!  One performance was five minutes of watching a bunch of babies lying on the stage dressed as flowers while music played.  

Nonetheless, James reported that some of the acts were actually quite good, with young children performing ballet, acting out scenes from traditional Chinese opera wearing traditional dress etc.  Ari's performance was something to do with being a traffic cop.  

We've been told that there are massive festivals at the parks in Beijing that we should check out, but we are not sure yet if we are brave enough to face the crowds.  The Chinese refer to themselves as "dumplings boiling in a pot" when there are such crowds.  Personally, I think that the mental image of dumplings in a pot sounds spacious and relaxing compared to this kind of a crowd.

Will we go or not? We'll keep you posted!

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