That’s not a Christmas card, THIS is a Christmas card

January 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm (general life)

Yay! Photo o’clock:

It snowed again last night, and it kept snowing all day. The snow is more than a foot deep all over Beijing, and transport has ground largely to a halt (a huge number of taxis simply refused to take any passengers). But it’s not reverse global warming causing the wacky weather – it’s the government’s cloud seeding program (one girl told me there’s a “Winter Wonderland” set up in the olympic stadium, and that’s why snow was considered a good thing). All the snow is covered with tiny sparkles, like glitter scattered throughout. The whole city is hushed under a white blanket.

People are describing it as “fake” snow, which is perfectly accurate – it just happens to be fake snow that falls from the sky and is made of frozen particles of water. Other than the telltale glitter, it was also too powdery – not matter how much fell, it didn’t hang together like snow does. Even in Canberra (where it snows about once a decade), if you can gather a handful you can make a snowball. That was pretty much impossible today.

Nonetheless. . . snow! Great soft drifts of it! Interestingly, none of the roads were snow-ploughed. The thick snow was salted, turning it to a thinner brown sludge, and that was all. The footpaths were tended by sweepers with brush brooms and pieces of cardboard attached to sticks.

My feet got wet around midday when we went to meet some other Australians for lunch, and my boots, socks and feet stayed wet until we came home – just now, at 4am. (Which is why I shan’t be posting photos until tomorrow. Or later.) The temperature varied between -6 and -9 degrees, and I was cold. As we came home, I was shivering the whole way. But I’m fine now, and I hope the new day will bring (a) no more snow (b) a new shot of excitement.

I is dead.

Our main activity today was the relatively gentle one of socialising, most importantly at the Lush bar in the Wudaokou area. The bar has a lot of students (American, Korean, Chinese, South American, British, Australian, Danish and Swiss – at least, those were the ones I met while sitting at my table), and an artsy atmosphere. It is a genuinely warm and welcoming community.

Seeing Bil (Brother In Law) play was incredible. It always is, because he’s an excellent musician – the kind that not only plays well, but has a joyful psychic connection with other members of his band. I think genuine masculinity is about the most wonderful thing in the world (I LIKE men. A lot), and a band with that kind of connection is one of precious few examples of a healthy expression of masculinity. (“Healthy” sounds so unexciting. A better phrase – and I mean this as an observer of truly fine art – is “an utterly attractive expression of masculinity”). My husband also played bass – and sang “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”. Watching Bil, I felt that he was destined to make his musical home in Lush. He’d already told us it was the highlight of his week. Despite his low (and totally unreliable) income, I am insanely jealous.

Mine is the one on the left:

At around 2am (people from the crowd were still getting up and singing, and every single one could sing), a big guy brought in a guitar, sat down, and began to play – with the quiet smile of someone who has been playing for twenty-five years. He was Korean, and didn’t speak much English OR Chinese – but he made everyone else look like kids with plastic toys. When everyone else stopped playing and begged him to continue alone, he did. When he finished, one of the other performers (an American) said (haltingly) in Korean, “I want to have your babies.”

Everyone in the room did too.

Today’s taste sensation is a toss-up between a cocktail I had there – a mix of vanilla vodka, creme de cacao and chocolate shavings – and a lolly called “Piratos” which was like licorice, but condensed and made salty. (Luckily I was able to get rid of the taste with a margarita. Then I found myself wanting another. Such, perhaps, is the lure of Chinese candy.)



  1. Barbara said,

    Hi Fel,
    Thank you for describing your time in China with such clarity. It is a real gift to hear about those two men of ours playing together and your overall impression of the China you find yourselves in all together. As well as this it is a very meaningful description of what life is like for Nick as a musician in Beijing.
    Barb X

    • felicitybloomfield said,

      There are many points where I had you specifically in mind.

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