Monday, August 20, 2007

Concerto Finale: 速度

Recollecting time is so hard. “Memories are fragile” indeed. It’s one thing to list memories, but to remember emotions…

Following Henan, HBA life resumed at its usual unpredictable pace. The new grammar and vocabulary got easier to learn and harder to remember. Hot and humid mornings, rainy afternoons and cloudy nights make going out to explore a luxury.

The essay I wrote about my experience entered a speech contest that pitted my Chinese level against other international students from other summer programs, like Princeton-in-Beijing, Northwestern, Duke, etc. Preparation was heavy – class as usual, but when others relaxed during the afternoon, I found myself constantly editing and practicing my speech and criticized by my speech coach, Liu Laoshi, for not having a strong fourth tone. I would begin homework at 10 during the night, hobbling up to the 8th floor to bed by 1 AM if I was lucky. The results of the contest were pleasant and fruitful – 3rd place, with 200 Renminbi prize money, and increased Chinese fluency.

The weekends after the contest weekend were far more relaxing. I visited the fake Disneyland in west Beijing. China has gotten a lot of crap for developing its economy by copying foreign trademark goods, like Swiss knifes, American films, European clothing, but the Disneyland was a poor copy. Maybe Disney’s lawyers got to the place before I could see the Chinese Snow White for myself. The castle was a yellow ripoff from Sleeping Beauty, a miniature disco dome copy from DisneyWorld harbored “4-D” adventure rides (though not quite adventurous). No worries, however – in some ways, I suppose it’s a compliment to American ingenuity, because other countries want to copy it (China just has the guts (or is it lack of modesty?) to do so). 而且,the company was amazing.

What’s the point of being in China without a bit of shopping? And what’s the point of shopping without of a bit of bargaining? At the Silk Market, I bought about the equivalent of $800 merchandise with $100. Don’t ask me how I did it – I did nothing. Asian men are horrible bargainers – maybe it’s something with our facial expressions, like the my-word-is-final-and-I’m-going-to-squint-my-eyes-even-more-to-emphasize-that expression. The fun part for me was that a lot of the salespeople had no idea where I was from.
“You look Japanese,” they say.
“Do I?” I tease. “How about for every time you guess wrong, you take off 100 kuai off the price you’re giving me.”
That conversation didn’t go for long. But, the occasional ability to pass for an overseas Chinese, a pissed-off American jackass, the clueless American, the French-speaking Asian, or the omnipotent handsome-like-the-guy-in-that-TV-miniseries Korean helped to lower prices (just kidding on the last one….). Women are lethal bargainers. They have the endurance and willpower to get the price down to whatever price they see fit. Thank goodness I had one.

Before we could begin to count the days, the last week came. We had a performance called Beijing Night, where we danced, sang, performed skits, anything to enhance or ridicule Chinese culture. I sang Phantom of the Opera with Annika and Dani, two people who possess extremely different but seducing voices, the first soprano and angelic, the latter alto and jazzy (“It’s all musical theater, really”). I was the director of our summer program, Feng laoshi, Dani a frightened teacher trying not to get on Feng laoshi’s bad side, and Annika an excited soon-to-be disillusioned (haha.) student studying Chinese. We had a few technical difficulties with the music, but the entire act was so fun that they didn’t even matter. I also performed forms, flips and kicks with friends who went to the Shaolin Temple. Our movements were all beautifully synchronized, each block and punch released and snapped together. Liu laoshi’s front stage fan dance only added to the fluidity of our movements, 真好像波浪起伏。The raspberry something gelato after the performance was so wonderful, 非常好。(hahaha)

During the last week, I got to eat lunch with the writer of A Billion Customers, James McGregor. He talked about pretty much everything involving China, from cardboard dumpling hoaxes and recalled Mattel toys to imprisoned journalists and the fate of China after the Olympics. His insight about China made me wonder whether medicine and environmental studies are worthwhile career options. With all the economic development and globalization, which field will see the most excitement, the most change? Which path will I be more relaxed in, have more fun in, have a bigger impact on?

I was surprised how much my classmates had grown kin to one another, how much I had gotten close to the friends I’ve made at HBA. I’ll do my best to not forget the Chinese I’ve learned, but my friends,….很难忘。I will feel sorry for my Harvard friends for having to go back to Harvard. Don’t worry – The Game is at Yale, and I expect a reunion. I will dearly miss my teachers, who put in unbelievable effort to 提高我的中文水平。谢谢你们,我爱你们!




P.S. 请你们找到我再Facebook网站。我会把我所拍的照片在我的网站。

share on: facebook

1 Comment:

Susurrus said...

So...I just remembered that I have a blogger account and can therefore actually comment. XD


Mm, good recap of HBA--ahh, so much to try and preserve just so...such a great summer.

That is a spectacular picture of you with the 老师们, btw.

PS The idea of a "seducing angelic voice" is incredibly amusing.

PPS Wahahaha~! I have dragged you to the dark side that is lj! >=D

blogger templates 3 columns |