Friday, February 15, 2013

Year of the Snake!

Chinese New Years

A lot has been going on, but for the most part I have gotten into a routine of studying, practicing, excercising and performing.  Weekends are long nights here in BJ, and probably once a week I go out and do some sight seeing.  This weekend I am going to the temple fair for Chinese New Years.  Learning Chinese is a slow, tedious process, but I am making progress.  It is great to see myself learning something.  Trying to memorize about thirty words a day now, but I am still researching which method of memorization works the best.  I am using PLECO on the Ipad with the flashcard add ons, that helps a lot.
I live in an apartment now, in ShuangJing - a neighborhood two kilometers south of where I am working, and where I used to live.  It feels great to have an apartment, hotel rooms after a few months are a bit confining.  I have a full kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, and patio (for air drying my clothes).  I like it.
My new singer is from Atlanta/Houston - she is great.  We are playing a lot of RnB right now, a lot of classic soul, and some new stuff.  It is fun to be playing totally different songs than I have ever played before, and the band is sounding great.
The other night was Chinese New Years, we got done with the show at 11:45, just in time to see the city of Beijing light up!  Our club we play at is on the 80th floor of the tallest building in town, and let me tell you this town does not mess around when it comes to fireworks!  Millions of the biggest, baddest, fireworks I have ever seen have been blowing off for days.  Check out this video:

Every firework that is shot off is a massive explosion, totally illegal in the USA.  Really an amazing sight.  I jumped in a cab to go to work, and in the middle of the freeway there were cars pulled over and a bunch of guys blowing off these giant bombs right on the freeway.
The Chinese New Year actually lasts about two weeks - everyone goes home to visit their families.  The city right now is dead, stores are closed, places that are typically packed are basically empty.  Beijing felt a little like a ghost town, but now it is livening up again.  My impression of the holiday is going to be lasting.  I received a Happy New Years letter from my Chinese teacher Xiao Ling, some of her words really describe the New Year holiday well.
"....The New Year is very important for Chinese people.  We believe that no matter what has happened in the past, there are always a lot of good experiences to come.  We take this time every year to celebrate the good that is to come into our lives in the coming year..."
Chinese New Year is the major holiday in this culture, similar to Christmas in the United States.  It is celebrated in a similar way as well, people go home and visit their family and friends.  Lots of food and cooking, laughing and hanging out.  It is lucky to give money for New Years, so there are little red envelopes that are exchnged that have money inside.  My impression is that the CNY is not a religious holiday for most people.  It really left me with good feelings, and honestly it feels like a really worthy holiday to celebrate - I think that maybe I like the idea of it a little more than the idea of Christmas lately.  It feels honest, and it feels real.  I do love the Christmas season when I am at home and with the family as well, but this is a very wonderful time of year here, and I really like what I have seen of this holiday.  ( I also know at least ten people who will read this blog would LOOVVEEE to get their hands on some of these rated R fireworks!  Fuuun!  Were gonna go buy some tomorrow!!)