Friday, December 22, 2006

Terrors of baijiu

God, do I ever have a love/hate relationship with Chinese spirits, called baijiu. It's like vodka/sambuca... 38% or higher. I ought to have guessed it'd be a rockin' supper when Xiang Li hauled two massive bottles - plus a veritable suitcase containing two more bottles - of it out of his truck. I love how you can take almost anything into a restaurant.

This is in reference to the supper I "owed" my Budweiser VIP, by the way. And yes... writing this, I'm still heavily under the effects.

There's this place in Tang Shan that I've always wondered about. It's actually just around the corner from me. I mean, literally 200 meters away, down a side-street. The restaurant is all white and gold, with fancy-dressed staff and tonnes of seafood tanks in the main lobby. I've walked past it a number of times, but tonight... we ventured within. We had a side room, and by 7pm, there were 10 of us in there. Thankfully I roped Camilla into coming with me or I might have been bombarded with ganbei's and a tonne of questions I couldn't understand/answer.

The assorted folks were friends of Xiang Li's, including a financial business owner from Shanghai, a "secretary" (there's no way she was anything but a consort dressed- and made-up like she was, intelligent though she seemed to be), a self-made man, and the local CCP head of "department of discipline" supervision and enforcement. Basically, anyone in the local CCP steps out of line, and he and his dept step in to set them straight. This guy was smoking 120 yuan/pack smokes and commanded the place like nothing I've ever seen. The baijiu was flowing like ummm... wine... and though I tried to steer clear, I had about 3.5 glasses of it. And two beers.

I'm sorry, but the Chinese put every other culture to shame when it comes to celebratory toasts and getting wasted at events. I was toasted for being a teacher, a friend to Xiang Li, sitting near the head minister of punishment (or whatever), for being there with another teacher (Camilla), for being Xiang Li's teacher, for having supper, for gracing them with my balding presence, for being "handsome" (what the fuck?!)... jesus. We went through the four bottles of baijiu fast. The food was awesome, and plentiful in the extreme. It was the most expensive supper I've ever had, and I shudder to know what the bill ended up being. No doubt half of my monthly salary, I don't doubt. We had whole crabs for dessert, for chris'sake!

Ended up getting a lift from my VIP which was a bit scary, as baijiu laden as he was. However, I've never seen a more girly driver than him when sober, so he was simply a usual Chinese driver when drunk. I wouldn't have driven with him, but hey... it honestly can't be worst than most drivers here. All was well and there were no incidents. It wasn't the wisest thing to do, but Camilla and I all but pleaded to be allowed to take a taxi. Honour and the guest-right wouldn't allow it. He'd lose face if he let us do that, as our host.

Tomorrow is the Xmas Show... and it should be a wondrous cluster-fuck. We had a meeting today, and found out that contrary to our plans, people will be showing up around 3pm. Also, there are 57 student performances. WHAT - THE - FUCK? I mean, honestly. We have two hours, and with every performance being restricted to 2 minutes, you figure out what 57 goddamn performances equals. Never mind dragging a guzheng on stage or some other random instrument or what-have-you, doing sound set-up, introducing performers, etc. It'll be a funny kind of hell.

Christmas is looking to be worse than Halloween, but I don't care. I'm just doing my bit and will laugh at the rest. I have to do a skit to find tai ji pants... and try to make a big paper origami something or other. And supervise students wrapping someone up as a Christmas tree. It'll be insane and unstable, the whole show. I can't wait. I embrace the insanity.

Now I need to down about a litre and a half of water before hitting the hay.

This is such a scattered post.

PS: in Batman Begins, he is in a Chinese prison. Can't remember who I argued with about that, but Christian Bale says "Wo bushi zuifan". ("I'm not a criminal.") So score 1 me.

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