April 14, 2007 - Guyuan, China
Oh Happy Day!
Friday night the routine begins.
I swear to myself I will be out of the house by 7AM the next morning and headed for the small Muslim food lane near the center of town. If I don’t I miss pearly white bowls of dofu nao, salty and spicy ro jie mo sandwiches and silky smooth hun tun soup dumplings due to the morning rush.
My alarm clock rings at 6:45 - grabbing it I give it a violent smash on the covers next to me, knowing full well in my semi-conscious state that this will send the AA battery flying out, aren’t we clever and oh-so-self-destructive when asleep - and I somehow rationalize another 20 minutes under the covers.
7:15 rolls around and I swing out of bed cursing myself for my hedonistic tendencies - I’m going to be late if I don’t hurry.
Walking towards the center of town I am passed by the older generation of Chinese - all dressed in comfortable sweat suits and black Mao jackets - briskly walking and pounding their chest, arms, backs and thighs with medicine balls. Many of the older women pass carrying tasseled curved swords, returning from their morning Tai Chi. It’s humbling watching twenty or so octogenarians gracefully arc their swords and dive slowly in unison across the pavement in the central square.
Passing through the market there is a crowd jostling for the fresh produce sold from the backs of tricycle carts - cucumbers and radishes, cabbage and tomatoes, garlic tops and greens - and fresh tofu from deep earthenware pots.
Eating my bowl of soup at one of the small shops I listen to the steady murmur of bargaining and vendors hawking their vegetables. Catching small fragments of conversations about how sweet the cabbage is, if the radishes are fresh or how the birds are coming back. I listen to the muffled knock of the butchers knife next door and the bubbling of the soup pot next to me.
All this as the sun is steadily pushing the shadows off the sidewalk.
Saturdays must have been made for waking up early.
I beg to differ. Saturday's were made for sleeping in followed by a bagel and lemonade. Suit yourself. If you come back doing tai chi, you better close the door quietly on your way out.