Thursday, February 5, 2009 ;
11:40 AM
29 Jan

Dh's co-worker invited us to his house for CNY visitation, and thereafter to a restaurant near his place for dinner.

His apartment is very small, but typical of the homes here. The location is very good though, and he can find almost everything right outside his apartment block. He has a grown daughter who is in her 4th year in Uni, studying international trade (my translation). They are also very typical of Chinese hosts. The ultimate in hospitality. They will go all out of their way to make you comfortable and they will spare no effort.

For example, he insisted we call him when we reach his block, and didn't tell us which unit it is, because he and his wife wanted to be all dressed up, with their heavy jackets and so on. They came all the way downstairs to meet with us and bring us up personally.

When we were in the house, they insisted we put ds2 on their bed, since he was napping. We said it's ok, he can just continue sleeping on our shoulder on the sofa, but no, it's not comfy for us. So we put him on their bed.

That's not all. They insisted ds2 is not comfy sleeping without a pillow, yet their pillows are adult pillows. (actually I already let ds2 sleep on an adult pillow at home, but a soft thin one). So they went to the closet and dug out (took quite some time) the little pillow their daughter slept on when she was a toddler. Ok!

I was pretty touched already, and then they had to go dig out the pillow case, and then they searched for a clean blanket, in case ds2 felt chilly. Which I assured them he would not, because he was still clad in his winter jacket, gloves, beanie... But no, that can't do. So they arranged him on the pillow, arranged the blanket on him, and then we proceeded to the living room to chat.

Before I sat down, the wife suddenly said she's worried if he will fall off the bed, maybe she needs to dig out the bed guard. I said, no need, he already sleeps on the adult bed at home and there is no bed guard. Then she said, better take off his beanie, if not when he perspires in it, and the perspiration evaporates too quickly, he will catch a cold. How thoughtful, I didn't think of that. Ok, so I stood up to go and take it off, but no, she cannot trouble me like that, so I must sit down, she will go take off the beanie. Ok, good.

Then Dh chatted with his co-worker while his wife and daughter chatted with me. All the while, they kept plying us with food. All kinds of snacks and appetisers. If I stopped eating for a while, they'd ask me to eat again. This continued on and on. They gave ds1 chocolates, candy, chips, and were very happy to see him eat a lot. The more he ate, the more they gave.

Then we proceeded to dinner! We took a short cab ride, and for the cab ride, he sent his wife and daughter to walk to the main road to get the cabs in to his small street, so we needn't walk too much. Wow.

When we reached the restaurant, we were given a VIP room, and he ordered so much food, we thought maybe it could feed 3 more families.

When dish after dish arrived (every kind of meat: pork, fish, prawn, chicken, beef...), they kept urging us to eat more. And both ds were fed by the wife and daughter! I usually don't care about them when we eat out. If they eat well, so be it, if they eat little, it's not a big deal either too. It's just one meal.

But when ds1 couldn't eat much, they kept asking him why. And asked if it's because the dishes are not to his liking, and when the wife learnt that he liked spinach, she went and ordered more dishes, whatever he said he liked! But he meant he usually likes those, and not that he can stomach them at that time! The truth is, he was full from all the choc, candy, biscuits and cookies!

When they found out the kids like to drink soft drinks, they kept pouring more for them. Anything to make the boys happy. I just close one eye because it's just one meal. Anything to make everyone happy too. So I just smile and laugh and chat the whole dinner through.

Then there was a blackout. The restaurant had some problems getting the lights to come back on at once, so the waitresses gave us 2 candles and lighted them up. The kids loved it so much and it was pretty romantic. So even though our host was horrified and kept apologising, we didn't mind at all. After the lights came on, ds1 and ds2 wanted to blow the candles, but the waitress came in and extinguished them too quickly for me to tell her. As she was bringing the candles away, our host caught on that the boys wanted to blow the candles and he ran after her, and got her to bring the candles back. When she didn't have matches, he asked her to get some.

I am not used to such attention and service! We were really pampered.

Both the wife and daughter love my sons too, and kept praising them, patting their heads, hugging them... They gave the boys many snacks to bring home as well. The kids still have not finished eating that stash yet, till now!

And look at this group pic below. It was taken at the end of the meal. And look at the leftovers.

There was so much left, so the host got them to pack it up. As usual, they pack food not in containers or boxes, but in plastic bags. The host insisted that we bring the food home. The food was delicious so we were happy and thanked them.

They are too nice. The daughter even said when she has holidays, she can bring me out shopping and show me around Tianjin.

Below are some pics of how doting they are to my sons. The wife feeding ds2 with some Pocky biscuit sticks.

And the daughter was so patient, playing continuously with ds2, and tolerating his talk on his transformer car.

We were so full, we couldn't even walk properly. Cos the wife kept piling my plate up during dinner and I felt that I needed to at least eat most of what was on my plate. But I know I shouldn't clear the plate, because once I do, more food was given to me.

All these are good learning experiences for us. Cos now we know, when we have Chinese guests, we need to treat them the same way too. Otherwise, we might be seen as not so hospitable?

Compared to them, I think I pale in comparison, because I usually wait for my guests to tell me what they want, instead of thinking of everything they might need beforehand.

I have improved over the years, but sometimes I still think back to my student days, and I cringe. I remember when Mary came over to Sydney to stay in my apartment for a short time... I think I definitely didn't make her comfortable enough. It was cold, hard and difficult then. Sorry Mary! I will make it up to you!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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