Friday(ish) Love List

I know, I know, it’s Sunday. That’s ok – any day of the week is good for the Love List!

  • Umbrellas as parasols. Chinese women are paranoid about getting tanned because they regard dark skin as unattractive (dark skin having an association with ethnic minorities and outdoor manual laborers). Therefore, they use umbrellas as parasols when it is sunny out (and sometimes even when it isn’t) to avoid tinting their skin even a little.Sinister racist/classist aspects aside, parasol use actually works out well for me as a social custom, since I am paranoid about getting sunburned. I therefore feel free to use my umbrella as a parasol every day, and mostly people don’t look at me strangely. (I tried this once on a sunny day in the States and immediately got funny looks and whispers).
  • House guests. This week I had my first house guests in Kunming! It was great to have friends stay over, and they even bought me nice meals and pretty flowers:Come back soon, E and K!
  • TCG Nordica. (Don’t ask me about the the origins of this name, because I have no idea.) On Saturday night I went to a great concert at this music space/art gallery that I think is jointly run by Westerners and Chinese. Despite the fact that it was advertised as a cello ensemble concert and actually turned out to be a solo guitar concert with nary a cello in sight, I had a really good time. The guitarist was a Chinese man who played a mix of classical and contemporary, mostly Spanish pieces. Mainstream Chinese taste in music runs toward the sentimental – if it’s not upbeat pop music, the songs are mostly pretty melodramatic and a syrupy – so I wasn’t expecting a concert of particularly challenging music. Nevertheless, he played beautifully. I was particularly impressed with the good mix of Chinese and Western people in the audience, and with how quiet everyone was (it’s more common for a Chinese audience to chat all the way through a performance). I’m already plotting to go back this coming weekend for another concert.
  • Yuantongsi. This is a temple in the middle of Kunming. Normally to get into a Chinese temple you have to pay a somewhat exorbitant entrance fee, but I went to Yuantongsi and paid less than 60 cents to have look at its beauty. I find Buddhist temples calming.

Have a good week, everyone! Count down to RP arrival: 7 days!