This Saturday I’m going to a Chinese New Year banquet, one I attend each year with friends from Hong Kong and China. Lots of good food and catching up, all in the comforts of my friends’ beautiful suburban home. The American Dream.
But that wasn’t always the case with Chinese New Year and me.
I can still feel the bone-chilling cold of the Lunar New Year, 1991, during my junior year in college. This photo was taken in the countryside about an hour from Nanjing. My Nanjing friends’ family didn’t own a toilet. Not even a squatter. We went outside for that.
There’s nothing like a New Year’s fair. No Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse here.
Back before people owned cars, streets looked like this. Usually there’d be bicycles, but during the New Year, it was more fashionable to stroll around the markets and visit friends and family en masse. Mr.Chen, my high school tour guide, is on the far right with his nephew. His wife is next to him with their daughter, and I’m standing near his brother and two sisters-in-law.
Video games? Who needs them (and who had them back in 1991?) when you have a yard to yourself and this new well. While the adults played cards and mahjong, I made sure the kids stayed out of the well. Scary.
As I look toward the Year of the Dragon, I remember my friends in Nanjing and its outlaying cities and villages. Gongxi facai. Happy New Year!