My First Hongbao

hongbaoIt’s 21:00 when we arrive in
Chengdu. Chinese New Year’s Eve. A
taxiride of 25 minutes and I enter the house of the parents of my
girlfriend. It’s the first time they will see the white face that has
become part of their daughters life. My Chinese is not non-existent but
Chengdu hua (local slang) is something I haven’t grasped. So, how
to communicate and express politeness. Well, I was instructed to just
utter a lot of xiexie (thank you), hen hao chi (the food is very nice)
, another xiexie and most of all smiling. I did all these things and
actually it was not hard at all. They were a sweet old couple and
smiled back, urged me to eat more and especially eat rice at the end of
the meal. There’s no good start of the New Year without eating rice. I
smile, eat a lot and drink even more as my brother in law keeps on
pouring a pretty good Chinese Cabernet. We watch the CCTV Spring
Festival Show which is the Yearly highlight, at least audience wise,
and then the children, the small ones, I might add, are handed a red
envelope, the so called Hongbao. In it is some money to buy sweets or
something else kids like. Mother in law then goes to the study again
and coming back, she hands me a Hongbao. I am now one of the kids, the
small ones at
least.

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