Saturday May 03, 2008

Leo With and Without Bangs

DSC_2067.jpg DSC_2066.jpg

Sunday Feb 17, 2008

All in the Family

Many of the small restaurants in my area are run by families or extended family units. The families live either in adjoining rooms to the restaurants, or in nearby apartments. Most come from outside provinces, and were amongst the millions of people who fled this city during the Spring Festival.

I don't like Beijing during the Spring Festival. It's as if the life blood of this great city has flowed out if it with its people on trains, buses, cars, and airplanes. What's left is an a lethargic and listless shell, jostled intermittently by the morning, noon, and night din of fireworks and firecrackers. I am so looking forward to the 15th day of the lunar new year (The Lantern Festival), when most people will have returned to the city, and the fireworks officially end. (The only saving grace of this period has been that the streets have been devoid of traffic.)

Don't get me wrong... I love fireworks. I mean, I've traveled a lot to see them... the relighting of the Statue of Liberty from Governor's Island in 1986, New Year Eve in New York, Paris (Jules Verne Restaurant in the Eiffel Tower), and in a park under the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. And, I enjoyed my time this Lunar New Year with friends, just I enjoyed last year's... it's just that I'm just ready for it to be over. (Well, after I simulcast the fireworks from the last night to my family in the states.)

Speaking of noise, the Insider's Guide to Beijing (which is strongly recommended to anyone wanting to explore this city), has a funny story about an irritated downstairs neighbor always hitting the ceiling with a broomstick asking the author to be quiet. Well, mine comes upstairs and rings and rings and rings the bell until it is answered. Complains about the noise the Leo is making with his toe nails as he walks. I mean, there are booms and bangs and car alarms going off outside at all hours (note... please turn off your car alarms during these 15 days), and he's complaining about the clickity-clack that a 10 pound (4.53 kgs) dog makes. Geez.

btw, Leo's claws are not that long; I clipped them awhile back. Got into the quick on two of them. Oh, it was awful to hear him cry... I felt so guilty. I emailed my vet in the states for some advice, and am hoping for a better outcome next time.

Okay, getting back to restaurants... in larger establishments, the serving staff are often called Fu Wu Yuan (waiter/waitress). Now, in smaller restaurants, such as the one my friend and I had lunch in today, there can be an older family member taking orders and clearing tables, with other family in the kitchen. The person taking care of the tables is referred to as Lao Ban, or boss.

The lady taking care of us today was definitely a Lao Ban. There was a steady flow of people in and out of the restaurant during the time we were there, and she seemed to manage it with ease. She had what I would consider a normal voice with conversing with the customers. However, when she spoke (sorry, screamed) at the folks in the kitchen, she did so with a shrill Sichuan accent that had me laughing every time she did so.

Although bearing absolutely no physical resemblance to Jean Stapleton, it was as if Edith Bunker had somehow learned Mandarin and opened-up a restaurant.

And, on that note:

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