Culture Shock

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As many of you know, Robbie goes to Chinese daycare. I guess Justin and I never gave much thought to the Chinese culture, although we regularly appreciate the food. However, seeing Zhining every day has given us a glimpse into Chinese culture (and a son who thought his name was QiQi – his Chinese name – and not Robbie for the first six months of his life). And last night was no exception. Which is why I didn’t get to write last night…

Zhining sings with the Boston Beijing Opera Association, and last night was their annual performance. I had planned to go see a former student’s play, but Zhining presented me with tickets as a gift, and I just couldn’t say no to her. She was so excited that we were finally going to come see her (we also saw her perform at the Dragonboat Festival in the spring, and Robbie burst into tears when she held him in full costume, as pictured).

Justin and I made a night out of it, with the help of Micah and Allie who watched Robbie for us. We took the T down to Central Square and ate at an Ethiopian restaurant we like. It was so nice to sit, relaxed, at a restaurant. Of course, the people with the three extremely loud children didn’t add much to the ambiance. Especially when the mother busted out the Obama picture book and opened with “What does Obama say?” and then proceeded to loudly talk about how “Obama is in charge of everybody in the United States.” I thought Justin was going to die!

And then it was off to the Chinese opera. Justin and I weren’t quite sure what to expect, and we found the sixteen acts in the program a little daunting. But, they opened with a drum corps performing the Chinese Opera Overture, which was incredible. Zhining was amazing. And the 75-year-old woman who sang two numbers? She gave me chills. The orchestra that performed two numbers? Incredible.

I have to be honest; I was not looking forward to a night at the opera. It didn’t really strike me as a fun thing to do on a Friday night, particularly when I knew that Justin would be in class all day today and that he leaves for San Diego for five days early tomorrow morning. But, it wound up being a fun date, despite the horribly uncomfortable chairs that we sat in for two and a half hours. I do wish I could have understood what the host was saying. He seemed to be really funny… But, like the descriptions of the songs in the programs, it might have lost something in translation. Did you know that the Chinese army has a head coach? And that “oftentimes” is a popular word? That might have been the best part. Except for when Zhining saw us after the performance. What did she have to say? “You came! But where is QiQi?”

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