Have You Eaten Yet?

IMG_0926

Each culture has its own unique way of asking how someone is. In the U.S. you’ll hear, “how are you doing?”

In The U.K., it’s “are you okay?”

But in China, it’s “nǐ chī fan le ma?” which means, “have you eaten yet?”

Sure, there’s a way to literally say “hello” and “how are you?” in Chinese, but this key phrase inquiring about consumption is the most common expression. This just goes to show you how important the act of dining is in China. On any given night while passing by one of the millions of restaurants in Beijing, you’ll witness older, balding Chinese men with their shirts pulled over their bellies (on really hot nights) clinking glasses of beer noisily with their buddies. Their wives are gathered around the table, gossiping amongst themselves and munching on chuanr while the children run around the tables. Family dining isn’t just a meal–it’s a big ordeal. Typical Chinese meals consist of family-sized dishes that are meant to be passed around and shared. It reminds me of the way extended family members gather around turkey and mashed potatoes for a Thanksgiving meal in the U.S.

I found it so strange that everyone kept asking me if I had eaten during my first few months in Beijing. As soon as I learned the phrase Chinese, I didn’t stop hearing it. I was recently told by a Chinese friend that this question indicates that the asker cares about the askee and wants to make sure you are fed properly.

There is definitely a unique sense of bonding around the dinner table here that I haven’t seen elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how many times I ask my friends and family if they’ve eaten yet out of habit when I return home.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

I’ve been a little negligent about recording the activities that have made up some of my favorite moments in Beijing. April and May were my last two full months in Beijing and they passed so quickly with all of the birthday celebrations and music events.

April 12
The Beijing Olympic Stadium

I can glance outside of my living room window to see the Olympic Stadium (also known as the bird’s nest), but it took me about seven months to finally tour the stadium grounds. I spent a beautiful, sunny afternoon wandering around the structure, reading about the 2008 Olympics on plaques, and reading a book alongside the [fake] river.

IMG_1327

April 12
Teppanyaki birthday celebration

A friend within the group of people I usually hang out with in Beijing celebrated her 25th birthday by inviting everyone to a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant. Although I have been to several in the U.S., it was a special treat to spend time with everyone around the enormous Japanese grill while watching the master chef at work.

IMG_1783

This is why these people are my friends :P

This is why these people are my friends 😛

May 17
I finally saw a PANDA

My friend Vicky and I decided that it was unacceptable to leave China without seeing a panda, so we wandered over to the Beijing Zoo to see the animals. It was almost as entertaining to see the crowds of Chinese people snapping their cameras and forcing their children to pose for endless pictures as it was to see the animals themselves.

IMG_1948

IMG_1941

IMG_1998

…and then Vicky touched the zebra

May 18
Surprising a friend on his 30th birthday

While a good friend, Christian, was anticipating (I think he actually used the word “dreading”) his 30th birthday, his girlfriend was scheming his surprise party with his roommates and closest friends. His best friends gathered everyone to create a music video for him. We spent a hilarious Friday night dancing around Beijing (and somehow ended up in a bathroom) to make the video. A friend who works as a sound engineer and another who is a master at video editing polished the whole thing. We presented the video to him after surprising him at his apartment and I could tell he definitely felt better about turning 30.

IMG_2047

May 25
Intro Festival

Although I missed out on seeing David Guetta at the Great Wall due to my Silk Road trip, I did get to experience this festival held at an abandoned steel factory. Although electronic music really isn’t the most played genre on my iPod, it was a unique venue to run around and enjoy the beautiful day and great DJs. My crazy friends even managed to make CCTV news in Beijing after they kissed, then picked up the anchor reporting from the festival. Watch it here (hint: it’s at 18:20)

IMG_2123

IMG_2125

IMG_2179