Year of the Golden Pig

Pigs in Shanghai
Pigs in Shanghai

Spring Festival is upon us, and so the Portfolios have embarked on their annual journey back to Mrs.P’s roots in Chengdu.

2007 is the Year of the Pig, and it is a special Pig Year, in that it bears the additional quality of being Golden. This makes it a twice-per-century event, and that means only one thing in China: people are lining up to get married and have babies. The pig is already considered a prosperous zodiac sign for a child (perhaps because healthy babies are fat? or maybe pigs are perceived to have good lives because they just wallow around content all day?), so the added Gold status just makes it even better.

Mrs.P happens to be a pig, so this is her year. When I first learned about the Chinese zodiac, I assumed that this was an auspicious thing; in fact it is the opposite. When your year rolls around, you are supposed to be wary of evil spirits. How do you fend them off? By wearing red underwear, of course.

We arrived in Chengdu around dinner time yesterday. The city looks much the same as I last saw it a year ago – in fact, it looks much as we left it when we moved to Kunming in 2003. The only major distruption to the cityscape we noticed on the ride from the airport was the massive construction on Renmin Lu, where they are building Chengdu’s first subway line, to be completed… someday.

Mom and Dad had dinner prepared and we pretty much got right down to eating and drinking. Dad and I had fiery baijiu while the ladies sipped orange drink. It was a sumptuous feast of all Mom’s specialties: cold spicy chicken, twice-cooked pork (???), fish, various vegetables only available in China and hence lacking English names (to my knowledge), ??? (basically pork fat laden with sugar and sweet bean sauce, which sounds kind of nasty on paper but which tastes like sweet heaven), and my personal favorite, bamboo with fried beef.

We had planned on going out to the temple at midnight to pay our respects to Buddha, but we were too tired and went right to bed.

Today Xiao Niang (Mrs.P’s aunt) and her daughter Dodo came over to hang out with us. They live in what might be called a suberb of Chengdu, QingBaiJiang (Green White River). Doudou is ten now and much taller than when I saw her a year ago. We brought some clothes for her, including my old Superman sweatshirt. We also took her out to the Metro hypermart and bought her a new jacket (as well as one for me). She also bragged to us about how she came in the top five of her class, despite her teachers telling her she was a bad student. Ha!

*This post made possible by a generous loan of his old computer and wireless internet card from my boss. So despite the in-laws having no heat or a/c, and a squatter toilet that doubles as a shower drain, I am still surfing the net. Yeah, baby!

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