Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Day with Friends

One of the great blessings of living in Wuhan is that I am not alone.  Now, living in China, with 1.3 billion and some odd people, "alone" is relative--but even though I surrounded by people and students on a regular basis, it's different to have people with the same background and the same language and the same goals to connect with.  I'm grateful for the family I meet with on Sundays, and I'm grateful for the larger family here that meets once a month or so.

This past Saturday, one of the American teachers, Susan, hosted a Halloween potluck get-together on her campus; although not everyone could come, I enjoyed catching up with several people that I had met before: Tammy, who I met in training; Brian, Alanna, and their daughter, Abby, who I met in Memphis last spring; and several of the Harding grads who I was stuck in the Beijing airport with in August. I wore a costume to the party, but there were only a few of us who did.  (My lazy, requires-little-
effort costume this year was as a fortune teller, except I didn't have a crystal ball, so mostly I just looked weird.) Laura made a great Chinese popstar--complete with Chinglish lyrics, Alanna had borrowed a dress that looked like a Roman goddess, and of course among the children we had Minnie Mouse and a princess.  Anyhow, we played cards, ate, sang, and talked.

After we left the official party, we drifted outside. One by one most people headed home until a group of eight of us were left.  I had my Settlers of Catan set in my bag, just in case we found someone to play with, and sure enough there were some like-minded people in this group.  We sat on the ground out in an open concrete area at the end of the soccer field near some people roller-blading.  We had eight people and a four-player game, so we played partners.  Finally, playing Settlers in China!  I feel like I'm really back. To make it even better, Tammy and I won.

By the time we'd played one game, the sun was getting low and the ground was getting hard, but nobody was ready to go home just yet.  So, we made plans to meet again in about an hour to eat and go bowling. That gave us just enough time to catch a taxi, rush home, change clothes, rush out again, catch another taxi, and meet up.  To tell you the truth, it almost wasn't worth trying to get home.

We met on Ming Zu Da Dao, a nearby street.  Da Dao means 'avenue', and I just learned how to pronounce it correctly.  We, surprisingly quickly for such a large group of people, decided to eat a quick supper at McDonald's so we could get on with bowling.  Only things are never quite so simple in China.  It wasn't finding a McDonald's--we chose it because it was within sight just down the street.  No, once we got in line, it came out that they were out of buns.  Completely.  A McDonalds. Without buns.  We held a quick conference outside about going elsewhere, but there wasn't anything else quick nearby.  So, chicken nugget night for everyone! (Except those few brave souls who ordered wraps and regretted it).

Next, we followed Eric, who's lived her awhile and knows his way around, up to the sixth floor of the Seven Days Inn building.  Through the open doors, we could see a skating rink in full swing, but when we got to the ticket window, we found that for some reason the bowling lanes were closed for the evening.  Eric, who speaks a lot more Chinese than the rest of us, could understand they were closed, but he didn't understand the explanation of why.  Oh, well.

At this point, Micah, who was fighting a head cold, gave up and went home. That left seven of us still looking for something to do.  Skating got voted down, so we split up and took two taxis and a bicycle to Guanggu, the big huge wonderful mall I've mentioned before.  Turns out, there's an arcade there.  So, we all got ten yuan (about $1.40) worth of tokens and played for a while.  There were car racing games, mortal kombat type games, those things with the claws that tempt you to try to get some rather ugly stuffed animals, dance dance revolution, etc.  Most of it looked like it was installed in about 1998.  Or maybe earlier.  And, being China, there were of couse a few bizarre games.  One that I remember particularly was a small round table attached to a hinge.  The video behind it showed a story going on; the scene was a wedding reception in a hotel ballroom.  At a certain point, you (playing the bride), must flip the table as hard as you can.  You earn points based on how much damage and disorder you cause--the cake goes flying, the waiters duck for cover, the table dominoes into the next two, dishes breaking everywhere.  At the end it turns out the reason for the bride's table-flipping tantrum was that the groom is discovered in a closet with a bridesmaid.  The entire game is just that one flip of the table, but it was worth watching just for the oddity of it.  Matt, one of our group, got a score in the top ten of all time.

Laura and I left around ten; the others were about out of tokens, so I figure they left soon after.  It took awhile to find a taxi, being a Saturday night, but I made it home eventually. It was a good day.  


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