Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dinner and a show in Xi'an

So one evening after our humanitarian service at "Little White Rabbit" dental clinic we had dinner and a show. There was dancing and music and as always lots of food. This evening we ate and ate and ate 18 different kinds of dumplings. A specialty in Xi'an.
 This was the appetizers. Don't let the forks fool you. After more than a week in China, I'm getting pretty good with the chop sticks. Most everything can be stabbed. What I lack for in technique I make up for in ingenuity.
 These are "fish" dumplings. You can tell by their shape and they came with sub titles from the server. It's very prestigious in China to have an "english" speaking job. The Chinese language is based on tones and sounds. Each character in their language is either a root sound or syllable or a picture from which they gain information. It's the blend of the syllables that create their spoken language. That is why many Chinese appear to speak "broken" english. They give each syllable it's own importance. We say vegetable. They say Veg-Et-A-Ble.
 Patty and I sat right up front next to the stage.
I dare you to identify and name any of the musical instruments used here. In Hong Kong, we came upon an open mike event with paid singers. No offense to the talented person at the microphone but it sounded like a bag of cats being dragged down the chalkboard. My western ears did not find much pleasure in the sounds the singer could produce.

Now I won't get the story straight but these dancers represent the Tang Dynasty. It ended before Columbus "found" the Americas. It's a big deal to the people of Xi'an because at that time Xi'an was the capital of China. At that time Xi'an was the eastern end of the Silk Road and they traded as far as Europe.
Xi'an served as capital for about 4000 years until the end of the Tang Dynasty. Since the U.S. can't even claim 300 years of history it's difficult to imagine the deep sense of cultural pride that these people have.
The Chinese people have many western adaptations but they still believe in luck and superstition as guiding forces in their lives. As you can easily surmise we have many more freedoms.
One thing I found really interesting while in China is the Chinese people's perspective. Now first you must know that even today, there are random people walking about that their only job is to listen, especially to foreigners, to make sure that nothing is said that is unfavorable about the government.  So we discussed the last great war that China participated in. They call it the "Anti-Japanese" war. You and I studied it in school as World War II. This leads me to a question, if we were against the Japanese and China was against the Japanese, were we allies? You know the enemy of my enemy is my friend?  I'm not ready to rewrite high school history books to solve that one.

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