> 08 meanders

08 meanders

2008-05-03 - jjackunrau

I’ve been wandering around the area the last couple of days. I found the market which Holly isn’t too enamoured with. It’s a single alley that stretches a long way. Sort of covered, with people walking bicycles through. It’s such a gray day today even the browns of people’s jackets felt rich and vibrant. The red tubs were filled with eels and fish, most about hand-sized, some big catfish mooping about. Kidneys and other organs arrayed on wooden slabs. Bright orange carrots, one stall’s pale tomatoes (these were near the far end from my entry). Ducks huddled in cages next to a woman wearing a hat sorting out duck offal. They were doing their best to sleep off their last headaches. Chickens in cages too. No one gets left out.

Today’s colder than yesterday. There was no morning sun warming up these pages earlier. I’m writing at Holly’s desk on her balcony. This isn’t such a bad life, you know? Getting up in the morning, getting most of my pages done (but not all so as to preserve a bit of “Shit, I’m behind!” urgency), walking around, reading and trying to stay warm, If it weren’t for that last bit it’d be perfect. I knew in my head before I came that it’d be cold here, that being indoors was not a license to shed any clothing keeping you together. My body did not remember how much it hates the cold. I did the same thing my mother did: marvel the first night then shiver the rest of them away. Egypt sure would have been a good place to go for me. Too bad about the Mennonites. But when the sun forces its way through to this tiled room and I’m here waiting with my glass of tea and my blackly absorbent best, it’s all right. If only the sun didn’t have to move and hit the whole world with its rays. But it does and later I’ll be cold again. Ever on and on.

“The Post Office is always a humbling experience” she said. Funny that it should show up so soon in all the language learning exercises. But in those circumscribed little worlds on the page everyone is only asking for one stamp or an envelope and they’ve never forgotten the characters for their return address or tried to send a CD in an envelope not a box. Though really, how hard is it? I’ve sent things to Canada and China from these post offices haven’t I? I brought in huge boxes and said “Dao Jianada” and eventually off they went. Maybe it’s not that post offices are humbling but that they reward ignorance. For their own inscrutable reasons.

We ate huge fried jiaozi for dinner last night. The beef ones were delicious, the veggie less so, as always. China doesn’t reward the vegetarian the way some places do. I mean I’m not denying the existence of some delicious vegetarian restaurants and dishes (actually I think I am denying delicious veggie dishes outside of those delicious restaurants) but to get the best this cuisine has to offer I truly believe you must eat meat. I’ve read about how to get by as a vegetarian here. The guidebooks talk about saying you are a Buddhist (following FoJiao) if you really want a vegetable dish sans any pork at all, and it makes me sad a little. All those poor Buddhists not partaking in the best part of this area’s material world. Much harder to go without in a land of embarrassing riches. All that contrast. And then there was that lying American teacher Leon made her video of, with his shaved head and meditation speech. He supplicated on the vegetarian topic. “There are so many delicious dishes to choose from.” And I’m reminded that “the best part is that I don’t even have a brother!”

cold food holly market post office the hangman vegetarian