Sunday, January 22, 2006

Spices, Drummers, Department Stores

After several gospel-themed mini messages from Assegai, I finally got a lengthy e-mail once I told him about the blog and explained that there were a lot of people who wanted to hear regular updates about how he's doing in China, etc. This is what he sent, with the understanding that I'd be sharing it with everyone.
Assegai's message follows:

Well, sometimes I ask myself, " What the Sam Hill are you doin' in China?" The language barrier is a daily challenge, but most folk are fairly patient. Actually my grammar is not too bad, it's the vocabulary that needs major expansion.....
Sometimes when I do drum stuff I get these delusions of grandeur, like I'm the young Famadou, newly arrived in strange Europe, to represent the jimbe culture. Except he spoke French when he got there....
Sometimes I catch the young toughs on the street corners smirking when I pass on my bicycle, and I want to dismount and thrash one to within an inch of his miserable life...then I remember that I'm in China, and that backup is a fantasy.....
Learning Chinese cooking spices has been slow...but I'm eating better all the time.
The guileless curiousity of the little ones is outta sight.......
Playing taijiquan in China is a big thrill...although sometimes I wish people wouldn't stop and stare. It's hard to get any real work done when I feel like I'm on display.
The traditional drum ensemble that plays in the park for dancers is hysterical. Old crusty curmudgeons who appeared to be on psychotropics, or Thunderbird, or something. Lottsa trancing....... One drum that was like a small Taiko, two guys with double cymbals (they were the ones who vibrated the most, probably a side affect of the meds) and a gong player, who happened to be one of my favorite taijiquan people. He's real aggressive. But always shows me a new move, kinda like a guardian angel or something. Wonder of wonders, they let me play the cymbals for a few minutes. When the weather changes, I'll introduce them to some jimbe. It's funny, drummers are always the Earth people, the ones who are hooked on the old ways.
Sometimes it's lonely.
One of my favorite things to do is to go to the department store and act really helpless, so that all the pert salesgirls rush over to help the poor foreigner, whom they think is Will Smith or Michael Jordan. Clearly a lack of scruples on my part, but then, my days as a spiritual giant waned long ago.
These are a few vignettes, here in Communist China. I think you will want to send them along the line, for some belly laughs. If I tried to write down all the wonder, and frustration and joy, I'd be writing till next week.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Assegai in China

Well, Assegai's e-mail posts have been fairly terse, usually amounting to a quote from the Rev. J.M. Gates, but in case there's anyone still wondering how he's faring in China, I think this picture should put any doubts to rest. Not sure what the event was, but it appears that China has welcomed Assegai fittingly.