When someone invites you to a home-cooked meal and some Karaoke (here-on called by its true Chinese name, KTV), there’s really no way you could say no. The lure of free food and the chance to sing Britney Spears at the top of your lungs are simply far too strong. So I took the plunge on Sunday, braving the rain and the very real opportunity to get lost out of my mind.
The expedition nearly took a dastardly turn, when my search for monies was almost thwarted by a multitude of stingy ATMs on campus. Gratefully, the last ATM I tried worked (but isn’t that the way it normally goes…), so my bank hasn’t shut down my debit card yet due to suspected fraud. Good news indeed. It also meant I could continue the journey to my friend’s house. YES!
A short jump, skip, and hop (read: taxi, light rail, another taxi, and six flights of stairs) later, I was there. My friend lives in Binhai, which is a development area east of Tianjin on the coast. Upon arrival, it became a flurry of friends, food, and fast Chinese conversation that I attempted to understand (with mixed results). But in any case, I ate pig’s feet and legs stewed with peanuts… not bad, just extremely difficult to eat with chopsticks. As were the chicken wings. I had to fight down the urge to just take it with both hands and nom the shit out of it. In any case, my friend is quite the cook!
With the food eaten, there was only one thing to do: admire the friends who were able to sing and pretend that the one’s who couldn’t weren’t really so bad after all. First off, the KTV we went to was glitzy, with prices to match… unless you’re in the know. You see, my friend is a master of 团购, the Chinese equivalent to groupon, which turned a 400RMB KTV extravagance into a 60RMB shouldn’t-be-legal steal. So for the equivalent of $10 or so, we all got to sit on luxurious leather couches in a Transformers-themed rule (not joking, see below) and sing to our hearts content for up to six hours. Ridiculous.
As always, my pop-hating self had a difficult time finding songs that I know. So while my Chinese companions had an endless selection of sappy love songs and wannabe R&B, I settled with the few popular songs that I know, and several that I didn’t know as well as I thought.
Best song: Would You Hold It Against Me by Britney Spears (so hilarious)
Worst song: It’s a Kind of Magic by Queen (impossible to sing)
And that was that. Reverse journey back to dorm room. A day well done. Oh, and I found out one more thing I need to take care of. As it turns out, Chinese SIM cards are region-specific, so the SIM I bought in Xi’an and “so responsibly and thriftily kept” for three months has actually been costing me money. More accurately, minutes and texts just cost more if you use an out-of-region SIM card, but since my SIM had credit left over from my time in Xi’an, it was best to use it up, anyway. But still. Aggravating. Time to find a phone shop.
And learn how to teach. My first classes are tomorrow. International Communication and Readings in Business English… PHUN!