Ayi Wan Lin phoned on the weekend. Forgot to reply to that text, flicked it away for later consideration while the eternal online shopping hole of Taobao was draining my essence.
Chunjie seems to creep in just as you’ve been blobbing into the festive glow of Christmas, New Year’s and a self-administered hangover period. It’s chill. Then you realise that laowai holidays didn’t mean shit to anyone and that early February is where the lunar end of the year is at – so you’d better stock your fridge before all the restaurants close. Except for the fam at Lanzhou Lamian. They do not give a fuck.
Red lanterns adorn doorways and trees. WeChat release several new sets of cartoon greeting stickers, the 21st century China version of a Hallmark card. When are you gonna fangjia, how long are you gonna fangjia and are you gonna huijia have ripened into standard seasonal chat. A nice change from air pollution.
In line with traditional Chinese customs, my flat is observing the New Year by completely ignoring the red sticker stuck above the front door by our previous tenant ancestors and buying a discount bottle of Bailey’s.
“Xiao Mei!” she exclaimed, with what must have been a smile.
No one has called me that name since the Pearl River Delta whanau about this time last year. I respond with an approximation of “hello, what’s up (oh shit what title do I call you again)… aunty!”
The conversation shifts to weather, as chat with relatives so easily does. She told me it had snowed in Guangzhou, which for their usual climate is totally insane. Around the same time, sleet was falling in Chengdu for the first time in years, though everyone wished they were snowflakes.
Sounds of the shoe market clattered down the phone. I remember Wan Lin didn’t make it for the big(gest) feed at Kan Bong’s last year, due to work. Shoe sales are busy, as parents and children grab new their knock-offs for the New Year.
“Are you coming for New Year’s?” “你今年会过来过年吗？”
GUANGZHOU TRAIN STATION, 2 FEB 2016
Sorry, think I’ll pass.
Kung Hei Fat Choi!
Happy New Year!
Year of the Mm-Mm-Monkey!*
Chinese New Year: Monday 8 February 2016
*(have been singing phonetics with a toddler for the past two weeks, will never look at the words apple, igloo, or monkey the same ever again.)
Premature New Year’s greetings from Kiwese, as I won’t be near the internet next week. Tibetan New Year (Losar) is on the same day. Packing my bags, stay tuned…