Saturday, September 12, 2009

The People's Park-One Year Ago- September 12, 2008

The Emme Fashion Show
I am not really too fond of this picture... gotta get rid of those 15 pounds. But, I want you to look down at the road. See all that activity? That's not even really crowded. And, again, you can see the love for me all over Emme's face. By the way, her outfit is a 6-12 months shirt, she wore it as a dress.
There's a park behind our hotel. You can't really see it because it is covered by buildings and trees. I kept thinking we should go visit it, but the mornings were full. By noon, we were pooped and then Emme took long naps and yada, yada, yada
Besides, a park is a park, right?? Nope, not in China. This park was more like a children's picture book. Page by page, or step by step, an outsider can learn beautiful things about the people of China at this park.
The park is called The People's Park and once inside I knew why. All through that park, the people and their culture came alive. As we walked in through the gate of the park, we could hear music playing. These older woman, maybe around 60, were dancing a choreographed dance. It was very pretty. And, it's fascinating.
I mean really, can you see grandma's in the US, taking their boom box to the park, making up a dance and then performing it for everyone who walks by to see? I can't help but wonder what in the world they are going to do with this dance once it is perfected. The next person we come to is an older gentleman. He is holding a long stick with a pointed sponge on the end. He pours water on the sponge and then draws Chinese characters. See what I mean? I don't get this either. In that heat, it doesn't take long to fade. Why spend all that time, for something that doesn't last??
So, Fronk (David) (I am not kidding, he acts exactly like Fronk from Father of the Bride.) So, he takes the writing utensil and draws Malia's name (Vince and Mary's little girl) in Chinese. When Fronk is done, he just laughs and laughs at himself. I told you he was funny. He even think he's funny.
The older gentleman takes it and "one ups him." He writes Malia's name in characters that are more beautifully formed than Davids. When the gentleman is done, Cindy write Emme's name using the characters. So, of course, the gentleman rewrites Emme's name... in water. Emme in Chinese. Next, we pass this little guy. Yep, that's his butt cheek. I don't understand the split pants. It seems a bit unsanitary. Plus, wouldn't you just feel violated?? People,(ok... we) are staring and taking pictures of his butt. I guess this is supposed to help with potty training and when the child has to go, he/she squats. Hence, the squatty potty. I will take a picture the next time I have the unfortunate need of one. This nice woman comes over to chat with us. Note- when speaking to foreigners: It doesn't matter how many times you say something, I CAN'T UNDERSTAND YOU!!!! It doesn't matter how many times you repeat that phrase, I am not going to respond. And, even if I do, you are not going to understand me. We just smile and nod at each other. It's very uncomfortable. FINALLY, Cindy comes up to interpret. The nice lady asks: How old is she? Why is she so small?, etc... Then, she thanks us and tells us we are good people.
Impromptu bands spring up all over the place. I am not going to lie to you and tell you it was beautiful music. Sometimes it sounded like a cat screeching on a hot tin roof. But, these people seem to be having the time of their lives. They are as happy as larks.
How do we know larks are happy??? Seriously??
And, why no shirt?? I mean, I know it's hot but in some cases.... it's just never that hot! These cement balls are called love balls. They are all over the place in Nanning. Yesterday Cindy gave us the story behind them.
Only in the Guangxi Province, they have a festival called the Folksong Festival. From what I understand, it's a big deal. Is is just me, or do they seem to have a lot of these type things that are a big deal??
Anyway, at the Folksong Festival, I know this is going to surprise you, but... they sing folk songs. At some point during the festival, boys stand on one side and girls stand on the other. The girl sings a song asking questions to a boy. Then, the boy sings answers back to the girl. (I am glad I don't live here, sounds like a lot of pressure to me! I thought festivals were supposed to be fun??!) If the girl likes the boy and likes his answers, she throws a ball at him. He has to catch it (more pressure). After the festival, they date to see if they want to get married. Married- geesh! (20 RMB to the first person to tell me what movie that line is from.)
So, as cute little Cindy is explaining this to us, she says, "Now, I am going to sing you a song and then, you sing a song back to me and then we can be friends." So, she sings this beautiful song to us; she had a very good voice. Paul then sang back to her. Now they are friends and I guess I am not... because I didn't sing.
Today, after the park, Cindy took us to a shop off the beaten path. Don't worry, it was safe. And, we bought gifts to give Emme from her province as she gets older. One of those things was a love ball. It was not made of cement. Emme's is colorful fabric with designs on it. Now, the next picture, wow! Let me first say, before we could make our way into the park, we had to dodge the thousands of people around our hotel buying moon cakes. David, in his Fronk voice says, " I hate a the moon festival. I hate a the moon cakes. I hate a the traffic." Paul and I were dying laughing. I don't understand the moon festival. It's the second biggest holiday here. People travel hundreds of miles home to celebrate this festival with family, friends, etc... I can't understand someone in China hating it. I think it's like someone in the US hating Christmas.
So, he hates the moon festival, but in the park when he runs across a Cantonese Opera, he gets really serious and says, "I love a Cantonese Opera, oh, I love it." He was a serious as a heart attack. To us, it looks and sounds like old woman singing into a Mr. Microphone. Mr. Microphone... it's for kids. You know, when you speak into the microphone, it echos and reverberates. But, we have to sit with a straight face and watch this band, excuse me... opera. And, to not offend him, we act like we love it too! Yes, the next picture is a giant rat. Why, because this is the Year of the Rat in China. Last year, in 2007, it was the Year of the Pig. That's when Emme was born- The Year of the Pig. So, last year, yep... they had a giant pig, made out of flowers no less.
Speaking of rats, earlier in the week, we asked Cindy some questions about the dietary habits of the Chinese. Paul says, "Is it true that Chinese people eat dog?" She says, "Yes."
And, as I sit here thinking about it, I have only seen one dog in all of China. We've been to two parks in Nanning and I have see nary a dog. I haven't seen a cat either. SCARY!!
So, then he asks, "How about cat?" She says, "Uhh, some people eat cat, but not all." She went onto say that the Chinese often says of themselves, "Chinese people eat anything with 4 legs, except a table."
So, at the park today, we are taking a rest as we are about to melt away, and we see a rat run by. So, of course, Paul says, "Cindy, how about a rat, do Chinese people eat rats?" She says, "Some people eat them. The ones in the rice paddies?" Of course we are looking at her with green faces about to heave. And, she goes on to say, they eat the ones that live out in the fields of rice.
Let me interpret... The ones that live among the rice paddies eat healthy things. SO, that makes a rat healthy to eat. The ones in the city, well, they eat crap! So, they avoid the city rats. Bunch of racists!
You know Paul's next question, "Cindy have you ever had rat?" In her very cute little giggle she says, "Yes." So, Paul says, "Was it good." She said, "Uhh, yes." keeps giggling..." But I not know it was rat. They tell me affer I taste it." giggle giggle giggle. I eat no more affer they tell me."
Well, that makes it better! As I was walking through The People's Park, I had some thoughts. I never really understood why we had to come to China for 2 weeks to adopt a baby they don't want. Today, as I watched the people, I understood. How could I ever explain China or Nanning (her provincial capital) to Emme having not experienced it. I know China by what I hear about their government which naturally carries over to ALL Chinese people for me. The people of China are not the same as the government. They, for the most part, are kind, caring, patient, loving people. They love life, as evidenced by the park. The older people, they don't retire and sit at home. The go to the park and make up dances and have bands and sing. And, they don't care what others think. What a great way to live!

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