R. Draeger Jr.
The Kindness of Strangers or My Adopted Family
This may come as a surprise to you but I am actually from Germany. Most people, except two, are surprised by this revelation. This is because I do not have the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "German-American" accent. Yes I know he is from Austria, but they speak German there. In the grand scheme of things the place of my birth does not mean much. The fact that I was born there means even less. I am, however, adopted. Not by the two people who raised me, but by my Chinese family in Chuzhou, Anhui Province, China (chew-joe/an whoyea).
No, I do not look like a Chinese person, I stick out like a soar thumb. That did not stop my adopted Di-di's mother (ma-ma) and dad (ba-ba) from welcoming me into their home. They were also kind enough to feed me. While on my way to Shanghai I had the opportunity to visit these people, the rest of my adopted Chinese family and a few new friends.
During the day my adopted di-di and I explored his hometown. It was considerably larger than Dawukou (remember, China has a population of 1.3 Billion), yet I was the only foreigner in this town. This meant that lots of people taking a glance at me, but I did not mind. Although it reminded me of my first few days in Dawukou. At one point, my adopted di-di and I went to a legitimate shower house (more on that in a different newsletter). My adopted uncle, who works at a bank, recommended it. To express my gratitude for being invited to his hometown, I treated my adopted Di-di for a foot massage.
As we finished our showers we were provided silk garments which we put on and then we were led to the massage room. I am grateful to the young lady who massaged my feet, which in America are size 14 (China: 48). The hands of Chinese women are considerably softer more gentle than men's hands. I felt obligated, however, to pay extra because even my foot dwarfs the shoe size of every one I know. Except my Bigger Brother in Dawukou.
Any how, during this adventure things happened in the evening. The first evening I was there my adopted ba-ba made a huge meal for me and the important guests he invited. By the end of the meal I had been invited by nearly everyone to either visit their work or teach in their class. I accepted the invitations knowing that my second day in Chuzhou would then be very busy. They even offered transportation for me and my adopted di-di. Talk about the kindness of strangers! After dinner I went with my di-di and the English teacher at the school to a Karaoke place. We met a young lady, a friend of the English teacher, and I spent the evening singing and dancing.
The next day was packed full of honoring invitations I received the day before. The first thing we did though, was to go to the train station so I could buy my train ticket for Shanghai. Our escort at first wanted to buy the ticket for me. I would not let him. My di-di had to physically block him from the ticket window so I could give the worker the money for the ticket. He then said he would take us out for lunch.
By the time dinner had rolled around I had visited a museum dedicated to a writer. Unfortunately this writer died young, so perhaps I should reconsider my writing career. I had also been offered a job at the t.v./radio station once it moved into its new building. Strangely enough, I am considering this offer. I could teach English to the whole population of Chuzhou...
At dinner time I visited the rest of my adopted family. Fate knows that every time I've been invited to a Chinese home I've not left hungry or thirsty. While there was no heater in the buildings of Chuzhou, it was definitely warm enough in the full house I was a part of. During this dinner I was finally given my Chinese name of Yuan Hao Yun (it is pronounced as it is spelled). This name means "good luck". At this dinner there were no invitations extended which meant my adopted di-di and I were free to visit Nanjing the next day.
My last day in Chuzhou was bitter-sweet, much like my time now in Dawukou. While I was excited to be going to Shanghai I was sad to leave this town. Playing soccer with students, singing and dancing at the karaoke place along with meeting my adopted di-di's cousin (who is really cute, which makes me glad that my Chinese family is only adopted) who is an art major in college, are experiences I'll treasure for the rest of my life.
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