Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Snake Blessings, Purple Sequins, Knee Warmers & Police Officer Angels

Greetings Friends!!

Happy New Year!! And Happy New Year of the Snake!!

Gosh, I have sooooo much I desire to share with all of you, and this will be just a quick update as my Image Medicine studies, qigong practice, writing work, meal breaks to eat yummy Chinese food, and the time-consuming task of putting on and taking off multiple layers of MANY clothes to do my best to stay warm in these frigid Beijing temperatures are keeping me all quite busy. :) I've started writing my next longer update and will send that out later....

So below I have a short video to share with you. We had a most grand New Year's Celebration at Kundawell Instutitue in Beijing with Grandmaster Xu, all our other faculty and all my fellow classmates. Many of my classmates are from Russian and it turns out that New Years is a much bigger deal to celebrate than Christmas (Christmas was just another day of work/class here in Beijing...but New Years is another story! :))...So the week before New Years, many Russian students were busy preparing hilarious skits, dances, videos, songs and a whole 2-hour line up of performances for the evening. There was also the whole "cooking team" who invested a whole day in cooking tables full of delicious Russian dishes for the night as well....

Receiving my "Snake" Appointment
So, during prep week last week, a group of Russian women who were organizing all the various performance pieces came up to me and in broken English said, "You, Snake...sexy, sexy!" Ha! And then the promptly handed me a shimmery, slinky dress to wear and said I was to give the Blessing to the group in Chinese at the end! They instructed me that I was to have two men carry me in on stage, make a "snake-like" entrance, receive the candle/fire from Dragon (my new friend, Martin from Slovakia made a Great Dragon -- you can see him in is costume in the video :)) and then give my Snake Blessing to Grandmaster Xu, his family and the whole group. Well this sounded like fun, so I went to see my dear friend, Yajun who lives in Beijing and she helped me find a perfect Chinese "Snake Blessing" on the internet. :) And I'm happy to report I was able to successfully deliver it w/o notes or mistakes! Yay! :)

The Snake Blessing video is below...

And here's the blessing in Chinese: 

It basically says that...
"The New Year is here. Any past troubles float away in the wind; any past worries are let go and forgotten. Prosperity and happiness are here. When encountering any situation, remember to smile. May you be healthy, positive and happy in your heart. May all things flow in Grace and in happy freedom. The year of the Snake will be an even better, Grand year!" (it sounds a bit awkward in English, but in Chinese, it's beautiful and has a wonderful cadence and rhythm :))

And one more funny story to share in this shortest-update-ever (for me that is :))....So I had met up with my dear friend, Zuzana (I'll tell you more about her in my next longer update) from Slovakia before the celebration to introduce her to the delicious pleasures of eating Chinese hot pot with tahini sauce (yum!!!) and to get dressed in our costumes together in my cozy, little hostel room. So when we were ready, we took the bus to Kundawell together (since she doesn't have a bike..I usually bike here). (Well, on a side note, I looked quite funny on the bus and got a few wide-eyed stares as I had my shimmery dress on, with my BRIGHT green jacket, pink hat, and purple sequined scarf, jeans under my dress, my bulky knee warmers with my leggings bunched up over and around them and boots!! I would've worn more too but I couldn't get any more layers on and still be able to move!) So...we took the bus to the party...BUT I didn't think through as to how I would get home at the end of the evening. :( Hmmm... So after 1 a.m. when I decided to leave the party and head home, it dawned on me when I got out onto the COLD street, that...the buses stopped running at 11 p.m. :(. Oh dear! And, there were a whole bunch of other Chinese people out on the big boulevard trying to wave down taxi drivers to get home and warm quickly too. 

One Rare Exception to the Joys of Being a Foreigner in China
Well, I quickly realized that I found myself in one of the very few situations where being a foreigner in China was to my disadvantage! Almost all other situations, it is really to my advantage to be a foreigner as the Chinese make all sorts of exceptions for foreigners and are really super sweet to us! :)...Again, that is except for when trying to flag down a taxi! :( For some reason, taxis often go out of their way to avoid foreigners and my thought is because many foreigners don't speak Chinese and these drivers don't want to bother with the challenge of communicating in broken English or with some sort of creative sign language. :) So with the combination of most passing taxis being full, having many other Chinese also on the streets trying to flag down the few-and-far between empty taxis, and having most taxi drivers look the other way when they seeing my blond hair (as pretty much everything else was covered up! That must have been the only give-away that I wasn't Chinese :)), I realized I was probably in for a long, cold walk home. Plus I had hurt my foot so...my walking was a bit slow. 

Police Officer Angel 
At one point I did happen to successfully flag down a taxi, but when I told him where I was staying, he said in Chinese, "No, I'm not going. I'd have to turn around and besides there's always a bunch of traffic in that area," What?! At 1:30 a.m. he's telling me there's traffic?! The streets were empty...except for those of us looking for a taxi of course! So he sped off on his way and I continued on my slow journey back to my hostel. Well, I must have looked sad or something, because the next thing I knew a police officer came up to me and in a friendly voice and a smile said, "Where are you going?" Oh I was so surprised! I told him where I was staying and he said he was going that direction on his motor scooter. I could hop on and he'd take me there! "Oh really?! Gosh that is sooooo sweet!" I thought. I said thank you profusely and most delightedly and quickly hopped on. In a matter of minutes I was back to my warm, cozy hostel room ready to enjoy my first night's sleep of 2013! :)

So, that's it for this brief update! I have soooo much more I desire to say...and it is once again my bedtime. I am learning much and have had many more magical encounters, information given and received and new dear friends come into my life. 

In addition to the Snake Blessing, here are also a few pics of the party (note the one of Santa Claus is Grandmaster Mingtang! :)), one of me excitedly hugging the box of chocolates and yummy snacks my Mom sent to me (see I opened the box under our token Christmas tree at Kundawell :)), a pic of my friends Richard and Maria eating hot pot :), a few pics of a most amazing middle aged man we saw jump into the iced-over Houhai Lake and swim around quite calmly and happily!!, and one silly one of me (with Zuzana) after class one day all dressed in my face warmer, knee warmers, leggings, hat, and coat ready to hop on my bike. (The temps are sooo COLD here! It was 0 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas eve day! I was actually nervous about going outside that day, BUT when I saw from my window that morning  that others were already up and out, walking and going about their day normally and surviving just fine, I too decided to bike to Kundawell! OMG -- well I about froze so I now have a new rule of no biking in temps under 10 degrees Fahrenheit! :))

Okay, I'm really going to stop writing now :)

I love you all and wish you all a most magnificent New Year, Year of the Snake! 

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy New Year to you All! :)

Much LOVE,
KarenJoy aka Kailun 凯伦 aka Snake :)

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