Saturday, May 19, 2007

Beijing Drum and Bell Blues

This is a post I wrote in mid-May which got stuck as a draft. This is what happens when one waits for other pieces of the post, such as pics, to be downloaded then uploaded... Thanks for dropping by.

On a rooftop in a Beijing bar right now, the imperial city's drum tower is on my left, the bell tower on my right. The sun's still up though it's almost sunset. It's the fourth day of blue skies, which should count as a minor miracle in this storied city. Four days with nothing but color leaping out, like the red lanterns on Ghost Street at night, only brighter and shimmering and with the constant hum of the wind.

Mid-noon, we vow not to touch any alcohol. We've been drinking for a couple of nights straight and waking up early for tough work sessions. We're a bit spent and feel our bodies deserve healthier substances. So Angus orders a capuccino, Sze Ping asks for a mojito and I order a margarita. He and Angus are having a meeting and I am concluding my notes to an article I am putting together for a chapter in the book I am trying to write, while listening to the soundtrack of The Legend of 1900, which came from Sze Ping's shelves. Any of you ever seen that movie? Once you watch it, it won't leave you ever, especially the music which you won't be able to hum to but which you will instantly remember once you hear it again, as if it's curled up under your skin. Any of you ever watch the movie?

Below our rooftop place, a shop away, is the bar where music from the Ningxia region is played live most days of the week. I was there in March, with Sze Ping, Keung and Kontau. I remember that it had snowed suddenly then, a heavy kind of rain which floated down hastily. I had rabbit and wind-dried donkey then along with Xinjiang figs. Sze Ping had given Luna a yellow tiger and we had a great drunken snowball fight while dancing around in freezing dirty sludge, laughing like children, and we were, no doubt we were. I managed to capture on my phone, a short clip which I showed to Rio and Luna and Kala and I'm still wondering how I can upload it -- I've never posted anything on YouTube.

I remember how the kids laughed at the video clip and how they asked why the camera seemed to move around so much (blame the forty beers we consumed that night). I miss as I try to write something on the computer, while the second margarita is steadily gaining sway over my senses, and I'm thinking this spot is such a nice place to post a blog about the kids, and the days and nights we spent on top of a hill in Puerto Galera, overlooking the sea, a cove, a cliff with crows and all manner of birds moving about, everything visible from the high terrace, the turqoise sea bottom in particular. Luna was playing an invisible guitar and Rio was reading book 2 and book 3 of the Quadehar Chronicles, and Kala was just going ffrom magazine page to magazine page, in between naps. We spent the afternoon at a small infinty pool wiht a bar which we'd light up at night, the kids quaffing chocolate drinks and Kala and I sipping beer and bottles of sake from the square wooden glass and pitcher that Patti Liang had given me sometime ago. And when it was all done Kala and I would open the bottles of red wine from Argentina, Chile and Australia that we had stowed away. The stuff had piled up during the long long April and May campaign push, and it's a good thing that vices come in nifty packages like bottles and stuff which can fit in one's bag.

Behind me, there is a short discussion in sing-song exchanges punctuated with raucous laughter. A gang of young tipsy Spaniards had just paid their bill and sounded as if they were trying to decide where to go next, and in front of our table a Chinese couple were writing down missives in their journals, slyly looking over their shoulder and at one another, as if they feared someone like me was watching and following the motion of their pens.

I wouldn't know what to call the scene. I wouldn't know what else to do right now, except to smile at the cool breeze and the leaves that litter my computer's keyboard and to order another margarita.

Maybe in the next post, I'll publish the pics. It's been a nice day. Slow and yet reckless.

Thanks for dropping by. #

NOTE: There was something wrong with the camera as it somehow made our bellies bulge. This of course does not conform to physics and is a mere post-modern fiction of some veiled future. And if it were real, the only one with a real big tummy is the guy in black. He's a good buddy o f mine, Sze Ping, but he has the larger stomach. This is a historic photo actually. A rather painful one. But only the trio in the last pic know why...



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