It would be my father's 70th birthday. A month ago, plans were made that we would all meet in Shanghai, where my sister and her family are based. My father grew up in a village just outside of Shanghai (now all part of the big city) before he went to Beijing for college, so he treasures every chance to visit home. My two brothers and their respective families also arrived on the weekend for the celebration. Erik could not get away from work, so I would represent. The trip was short, but it went smoothly and it was great to see my extended family. Following are just some bits and pieces from this trip:
- My flight involved a connection in Beijing both ways. On my flight from SFO to Beijing, I sat in an isle seat next to one empty seat, which was next to a Chinese guy sitting by the window. I think he said hi when I first got on the plane and then he dozed off. On this eleven and half hour leg of the trip, he did not get up a single time!!! He slept through the entire flight skipping all the meals and beverages and only woke up when they turned on all the lights and tuned up the PA an hour before landing. I was wondering if he would ask to get out to go use the bathroom, but he didn't. I was utterly impressed.
- My niece JiuJiu is almost three years old. She is a little shy in front of strangers, but she warms up to everyone quickly. I believe I've relayed this story to you before, but I think it's so funny that it bears re-telling. It was before she turned two, one day her mom was showing her a nicely crafted hand-held mirror. On the backside was a photo of a beautiful young girl. Pointing to the photo, mom asked her, "Jiujiu, who do you think is prettier, your mom or this older sister?" When Jiujiu was pondering the answer, mom continued, "if you say this older sister is prettier, mom will throw away the mirror." Jiujiu contemplated for a little longer staring at the mirror and said to her mom, "okay, throw away the mirror."
- A few nights ago, we, a big family of three generations, went to an upscale restaurant for dinner. On our way out, we all gathered in front of the elevator. There was a pretty receptionist waving everyone goodbye. While waiting, my sister, carrying Jiujiu in her arms asked, "Jiujiu, who is prettier, this older sister here or your auntie?" With only one second of pause, Jiujiu answered, "my mom is prettier." Everyone laughed. My sister was not ready to let her off the hook and continued, "Yeee, that's not right. I didn't ask about your mom. I'm asking between this older sister and your auntie, who is prettier." After another second of pause, Jiujiu answered, "I am prettier." Another roar of laughs. I think Jiujiu should take up embassodor as her profession in the future.
- This morning, my younger older brother, my sister-in-law, and Jiujiu left for the train station directly from the hotel. I went to the train station with them in a taxi and saw them off. When I returned home (sister's place), my mom was not there. Dad told me that one of Jiujiu's overcoats was left at home. Although my sister told them last night that my parents should take the overcoat back to Shijiazhuang and get it back to Jiujiu, this morning suddenly my mom decided to take the overcoat to them before they leave. The only problem my sister had left for work and they didn't know which hotel we stayed in. They got out any way and went from one hotel to another in the neighborhood to ask. At one point, my dad gave up and returned home and my mom carried on by herself. Many hours passed before she returned home. It turned out that she somehow managed to get to the train station and found them. As much as I did not understand my mom's illogical action, I was secretly impressed that she managed to go around in a new and strange city without getting lost.