Anthony Boudain: Rebecca: No Reservations that will be the show title when I take over for Anthony on the Travel Channel, although it may not be anytime soon for I heard he has stopped chain smoking.
While in Beijing, my friend Michelle took me to see hutongs, a style of housing, which are old becoming fewer and fewer. We also had lunch with a local family who lived in their hutong for over 100 years and after lunch we had a chat. They spoken Chinese, I English and Michelle and the tour guide served as translators. It was an Anthony Boudain, Barbara Walters experience.
I am going to be honest, it was a little weird at first, but an experience so I am in. We were invite into the house, where we walked over the threshold. Outside, I was coached as a lady, I need to step over thresholds with my right foot first and to not touch or stand on the top of the threshold. Thresholds separate the house from the outside world and something about keeping spirits/ghosts out for they don’t have knees and can’t get over the threshold. Many of the old buildings found through out China have thresholds. Go to a place like the Forbidden City and you get tired of stepping over them rather quickly, they are everywhere.
We passed through the small kitchen and told to sit in a room off the kitchen which had a table, some stools, a desk, and a 50 inch tv on the wall, with basketball on. Must be for our entertainment, all foreigners like basketball. The room also had steep stairs up. They had a teenage son who sat in the corner on a stool in the living/dining room. I felt he was staring at me the entire time.
Michelle called ahead to the family who host foreigners in their house and cook for them that I don’t eat meat. Michelle also before we stopped at the house decided to take me to a real local market. I really didn’t need to experience this….there are tables of vegetables, eggs, and meat, all kinds, just out in the open, on the floor, I am not going to talk about it anymore. After this I was glad she told them I don’t eat meat. Dishes came out of vegetables, dumplings with celery and a little chicken, not much and another dish with just a little chicken. I ate around it for the market is in walking distance, good chance the food came from there. No one ate but us. While we were eating, the Grandfather came down the stairs. Come to find out he is 93 years old! These stairs are steep and he looked 60! They all sat in the kitchen.
After lunch the Mother came and sat at the table and said I can ask whatever questions I want, there were no secrets. I wish I knew there would be a Q&A session for I would have prepared a question list ahead of time, on the spot is hard! Although she is open, I still wanted to be respectful and plan. Here is what I learned. She drinks like her Father from the fountain of youth being nearly 60, she doesn’t even look close. She has 2 sons the corner sitter and another who lives in TX and is a Kung Fu coach. He was a champion in China and lived in TX for the past 5 years. She would like him to find a rich wife if anyone is interested. She is able to have 2 children due to her husband being a minority. The one child policy doesn’t apply to minorities in China. Boys cost more than girls for when you get married the parents by the couple a house, making girls cheaper. The house has been in their family for over 100 years, it has 2 bedrooms upstairs and currently 5 people live there. Recently it was renovated and a bathroom added. Prior to the revocation, they use community bathrooms. There are 5 star bathrooms, 3 star and 0 star. 0 star there is no privacy. She doesn’t work but enjoys hosting foreigners in her house for meals, she gets some money. The largest group she hosted was 30 people. How they all fit, I have no idea. The winter is her slow period only hosting 1-2 meals a week but during the summer her lunch with a local family experience is booming. I didn’t ask too much else, I really wish I had time to prepare a question list. I would have liked to ask about the changes she has seen in her lifetime, her Fathers, in China and how she sees the future. I also would have liked to known if she remembers when WHAM! came to Beijing in 1985.
It was a pretty neat experience, one I recommend and I would like to go back.
Oh.. any single ladies interested in her son, let me know!