Life in China is full of unexpected events

Jun 05, 2017

I had been to visit one of my ex-students. She worked as a quality controller for a handbag factory. As this was a planned visit she had gifts for me; two handbags, a carry bag and a wallet. The fact that I did not need any of these was irrelevant to her.

Her delightful husband cooked us a delicious late lunch. She had been inviting me to visit for some time and she was excited that I had finally made it to her home.

Generally, these visits are quite boring and this was no exception. It does not matter how lovely they are.

As I was returning to my apartment, after nearly an hour on a bus, the only thought I had on my mind was that a cup of coffee would be great. Visits to Chinese homes do not include coffee.

I was barely two minutes from my apartment when I met one of my neighbours. He spoke very little English, but conveyed to me that I should join him for dinner. There was no reason why not, apart from not being hungry, so I agreed.

With all my bags still in my hand I followed him thinking we were going to one of the small eateries nearby. No, this was not his plan. We crossed the busy highway and headed towards what I knew was the only big restaurant in that direction.

Why are we were going there? He was only dressed in a track suit and sneakers, but as soon as we arrived at the door there was my answer.

We were warmly greeted by a bridal party.

I immediately wished I had dropped my bags off at home. Foreigners at a wedding is seen as a good omen so I was taken to a table nearby the bridal table. No one spoke any English, but I eventually found out that the groom was a close friend of my neighbour.

The wedding party took up half of the very big restaurant. All the usual procedures happened and the food was delicious.

It’s customary for everyone to get up and leave when the eating is finished. However, no move was immediately made. No one had touched the baijo (rice wine) sitting on the table so I passed around the small shot glasses and insisted they all drink toasts to the bride and groom.

This caused a lot of hilarity as it’s not common for women to drink alcohol, but worse still a western woman was insisting they drink.

I don’t like baijo, but it was good quality so a couple of shots was okay. This was a good finale to the day I decided. Finally, about two hours later I arrived home to have my welcome cup of coffee.

Where have you lived that has provided unexpected cultural experiences? Have you been to China? Is it on your bucket list?


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