Picture of a party I attended. You can see the whole appartment in this picture. We were eating hotpot and drinking beer. A few more pictures from the party and the bar that we went to after the party can be found in the gallery.
On Saturday I went to a Chinese friend’s house. His name is Zhu (you can say it like ‘Jew’). I met him at a bar I sometimes go to.
At said bar, I first met a guy named Tony. Tony is a Chinese guy who seems somewhat Italian. He dresses in sharp, custom tailored cloths. He has an easy-going friendly-ness, making him easy to talk to. His girlfriend (well…at least the one I saw) is tall and big – not what Chinese guys usually like. When I met him, he was drinking alone – which Chinese people never do. Yet Tony is not a foreigner lover educated guy…he sells concrete and bricks to construction companies.
I met Zhu because Tony met Zhu at the bar. Zhu looks like a D&D; player…long unkempt hair, small glasses, out of shape and pale. He wears shirts with American/English punk rocks group decals and anarchy symbols. I’ve hung out with him several times at the bar. He is often depressed, although I often see good looking girls around him (those girls are usually pursuing his friends and seek him for advice). He thinks China is a very poor country…”because China never developed its own Hendrix, Beatles, Stones, or anything remotely hippie or counter-culture.”
Zhu is a doctor.
I don’t really exactly understand this. According to Zhu, most Chinese doctors are “bad” (morally) because they don’t help patients unless the patients pay extra under-the-table fees. Zhu is, evidently, employed by the state. So he makes very little money. But he is not bad because he doesn’t demand extra money from patients. He is just poor, and a little depressed… and he likes being a little depressed.
So Zhu invited Tony and me and 3 other people to eat hot pot dinner at his apartment. Haga didn’t want to go; she said I must reconnoiter the scene first. I cabed it over to his area. Tony met me outside and walked me to apartment. On the walk, I tried to explain to Tony why I hate Christmas. Some things don’t translate well. Tony warned me; “Zhu’s apartment is old-style, OK? You understand?” To which I replied “Of course. I don’t want to go to some decadent capitalist pig foreigner’s house.” Tony smiled.
What is an old-style apartment? First of all, it was built by Joseph Stalin’s chief architect. It is made out of rotting concrete and has plumbing / conduits coming out of weird places. There is a stairwell in the center of the building. It is unlit. Walk up the stair to the third floor. Bare light bulbs light the hallway. I go into Zhu’s room. It is one room – about 5 meters by 3 meters. The ceiling is improbably high. There are box containers here and there. The floor is bare concrete. There is a bed, with Hello Kitty sheets. And a wire-frame cot. Zhu sits on his bed, cutting vegetables on the card-table that will be our dinning room table for the night.
“Zhu, does your room have heating? Its frigging cold in here.”
“No. It doesn’t.”
“Zhu, why don’t you get a carpet for christ sake. Bare floor is not good looking.”
“Too expensive and I don’t need it”
“But what if you want to take a girl back here?”
“She’ll just have to deal with it.”
“Why make here ‘deal with it’? Most girls would be turned off by bare concrete floors and no heater”
“I only go out with very special girls.”
I started to think of Jeremy living in his parents garage. But that is San Diego. Outside its -1 C. Inside it can only be a little warmer. But Zhu was living here because it was cheap and he hates sharing apartments with people.
Other guests arrive. XiaoYu, Zhu’s former classmate, history major, and now Bank of China paper-pusher. Sara, a cute, skinny, alcoholic salsa dancer who’s day job is selling North Face clothes (she said she can get me a 30% discount…although in her opinion the cloths are really unfashionable). YeFei, handsome tall man in black cloths who is a fashion photographer. Except for XiaoYu, they all met Zhu in the bar.
The hot pot started boiling; the lamb and beef was added. I started drinking beer, in the hopes that I will get a little drunk and not feel the cold. Actually, I think it doesn’t work that way; you don’t feel the cold while drinking, but feel very cold once you stop drinking.
The food – boiled thin slices of beef, lamb, and tofu and vegetables – was tasty. I was the only one dipping my food in hot sauce though; everyone at the table were southerners.
We sat around talking for hours, while Zhu played a best of Rolling Stones album, followed by Black Sabbath and the soundtrack to Forest Gump. They often talked in Shanghainese, which I thought was unfair because I couldn’t follow. However, it gave me a chance to eat my food without interruption. And when I started talking about a subject that interests me – upcoming trip to Thailand, rock and roll music and its relationship to socialism, how Bush is the biggest redneck in the history of the world, how to meet many good looking anorexic girls by being a fashion photographer – everyone started talking in Mandarin.
As we progressed into the night I become progressively more intoxicated. I went outside to use the bathroom down the hall. I saw a man washing dishes in a dark room and asked him where the bathroom is and he said “In here. Piss on the left side wall, shit in the stalls to the right side”.
I was drunk and rude. “You’re kidding. Its dark in here. Why didn’t someone fix the light? Is this really the bathroom?”
“I’m not kidding. This is the bathroom. Supposedly they can’t fix the light, although I think the girls bathroom downstairs has light.” He was probably thinking who the hell was this foreigner coming to his apartment to complain about the bathrooms.
I went back to the party and said going to the bathroom here was a scary experience. They thought this was very funny and were laughing hysterically. Sara also said it was frigging scary.
So we drank and ate and talked the rest of the night. Then a couple of us and I went to the bar and danced a while. Then I stumbled into a cab and went home.
So that is the party story. In other news:
*Movies: City of God (a Brazillian gangster film… must see), The Recruit (Haga like Colin Farrel now and say I can look like him if a work at it a little), South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (interesting now that Sadam has been captured), Missing Gun (Arty Chinese movie about a cop in a backwards town who loses his gun and gets in trouble)
*Plans: go someplace warm – hopefully Thailand – during Chinese New Year.
*Haga and I went to a Chanuka party at the old temple in downtown S.H.