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!

2007 – Year of the ‘Stache

Stache Guys

For the love of God, I need to take a break from talking about visas. And since it’s long overdue, may I announce that 2007 is officially the Year of the Stache.

Back in December, when a bunch of us were out singing karaoke on a random Tuesday night, we came up with the idea to do something special for the new year. And that something wound up being growing mustaches.

Day 6Originally it was to be a contest with a monetary prize. But a lot of folks chickened out and so it became clear that there wasn’t enough mass to create a worthy pot. So instead, it’s just all about the pride. It began with me, Turley, Michael, and Coley. Since Coley dropped out we have added Dan and Imani to our ranks. And there are some great statements of facial flair coming out of this endeavor.

Check out the full Year of the Stache gallery.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everybody! Things have been slow around here, network-wise, as that earthquake near Taiwan cut all the undersea cables connecting China with America and Europe. Been tough to surf the web and read email, and hence the lack of posts on this blog.

The New Year’s celebration went really well for us! We had a very nice dinner at our friend Brad Turley’s restaurant. It was a five-course meal that served a glass of different wine with each course – absolutely exquisite! Then the band was performing at 4Live, and we got one of our biggest crowds ever. Always a good time. We stayed out till about 4 and then slept most of Jan 1 away.

Now it’s back to work and it’s been tough with the internet being so slow. We really are dependent on this stuff. But slowly things are getting back to normal.

And only 12 more days until her visa interview!