Last week was a big holiday in our city, so our apartment complex threw a big party to celebrate. The festivites began with a hands-on activity of making the traditional food associated with this holiday.
It involved folding two big bamboo leaves just so, filling them with sticky rice & sweet dates, and then somehow turning this whole mess into a lovely little leaf package tied up with string. (Cue Julie Andrews singing "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things"). Seems like a difficult task? It was. But thankfully we all had the assistance of an overly-eager set of grandmothers. They're always so willing to tell us foreigners what we should and shouldn't be doing!
I finally made one that seemed somewhat correct and even met the approval of the grandmothers!
Did I mention that no one else besides the foreigners was asked to attempt to do this? Everyone else simply watched us. Am I starting to feel like a sideshow? Starting to? Oh wait. No. Felt that way for a long time.
The celebration continued with some singing performances. That's pretty normal around here. Then they had a contest involving marbles and chopsticks. The goal was to use chopsticks to move the marbles from one plate to another. On your next rainy day, you should try it. It's not easy! Our American friend Rachel had a ligitimate victory against an adult. I, on the other hand, barely eeked out a win against a little boy.
Again, let me take a moment to mention that it was only the foreigners who competed. I think next in line for the agenda of entertainment was the trapeze artists or the bearded lady...
Then it was time for some impromptu correographed dancing put on by a few Asain folks and...you guessed it...the foreigners! Now I know that "impromptu correographer" dancing is an extremem oxymoron. It's not, however, when half the group knows the dance and the other half (namely, the foreigners) have no clue. So we (husbands included) did a little dance show that greatly resembled Jazzercise for the delight of the crown.
After about two hours of these little shananigans, I was ready to go home. But that's when the opera singing began. And went on...and on...and on. If you've never heard our local opera singing, just imagine high pitched voices and even higher pitched guitar-ish instruments. I know it's culturally beautiful but I have never been more reminded of the subjectivity of beauty until forced to listen to this for so long.
The show must go on! And it did. More opera until something magical happened. A group of important looking people showed up, made a quick tour of our shindig, and then promptly left. Then the party immediately ended.
I was later told that the secret to concluding the party was a group of people from the local government office. When you've got two foreign families living in your apartment complex and present at your holiday celebration, this apparently earns some bragging rights. Our friendly local leaders were supposed to show up when the rest of us did but were a little late (two hours late that is). So the show couldn't stop until they arrived. So it was opera song after opera song until they came, saw our lovely smiling white faces, then left.
Foreigners on parade!