Friday, October 03, 2008

Your Beijing Hosts

While we stayed put during this past Golden Week, other Fulbrighters took to the air, rails, and road. Some of our fellow Beijingren went on a Yangtze River cruise. That left us "back home" to welcome visitors from Xiamen and Nanjing, two other cities where Fulbright families are stationed. This turned out to be an absolute blast.

Although we've only been here a month and a half (Wow! Has it been that long already!?), we have some routines that we were very happy to share with out of town travelers. A familiar pattern emerged. Family decides to go to the Summer Palace. Either on the way in or the way out, family meets up with the Ballas for some chow at one of our little alleyway restaurants. We all crowd into a private dining room (these are ubiquitous in China). We all share "war" stories.

It's funny. Although we are all having our own unique experiences, there are some common patterns. I've been pretty mystified at the slow start at Beida. Turns out, though, my trajectory is not off the charts. Others are, to varying degrees, having difficulties along the way as they try to get established in their new professional homes. We were told that it might not be easy to make this happen, and it was soothing to hear that I'm not alone in this regard. A good recharging of the batteries, you might say.

But back to the food. Last night, we went across town to meet up with Jim, Irene, and Marcus and head to our favorite little Xinjiang restaurant. The dan pan ji was delicious as always. But it was the ji rou chuanr (chicken kebabs) that were the real highlight of the meal. We ordered fifteen skewers when the boys indicated they both wanted to eat some serious chicken. Turns out, fifteen was not nearly enough. We placed a second order for ten more (yes, that's 25 skewers altogether!). Between Marcus and Z alone, I think they polished off something like seventeen kebabs.

As we sauntered back to the subway after dinner, in no hurry to part company, I realized I had seen a fellow Fulbrighter every day this past week. I also realized that we have constructed new lives here, new lives that we are really happy to share with others. Treat that as an open invitation...

~Steve

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