Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

visit to a tea shop

tea shop
Originally uploaded by daveterry
Today we took the mopeds up north and while there did a little tea drinking.

This tea table is made of a solid piece of wood with carved fish and other creatures protruding from it's flat surface. In an area of about two feet in front of the tea server is a shallow "sink" complete with a drain hole toward the back. As she serves tea she simply dumps the unused water or tea onto the surface and it drains away.

She attentively watches how much tea I drink and constantly refills my thimble-sized glass cup. It's always kept three-quarters full. This leaves the top lip of the tiny cup cool enough for me to grab.

We sat and talked about the weather and the news. One Chinese businessman, also a customer of the tea shop, asked us about former president Clinton. I didn't completely get his drift but I guess he was curious about whether or not he was popular in America.

We asked him if he had a lot of money. He said he did. So we asked him what he does for a living and what he buys with his money.

Originally uploaded by daveterry
These kind of questions might seem rude by American standards but to the Chinese it "gives them face." In other words, a chance to talk about themselves and brag a bit.

So he told us about the copper mines he owns.

It was great to be exposed to Chinese constantly. Everywhere I turn the Chinese words and sentences fill my ears. My listening skills are fairly good if I know the context. My speaking? Not so great. I was able to tell them, because they are always curious, how many children I have, how old they are and what do I do for work.

Sometimes I feel a bit ill at ease when they rapidly talk and look my direction. They might imagine I understand everything they say. The best approach is simply to smile and nod knowingly.

Soon I had to use the bathroom. I took a quick shot of the cozy place for a little sketch later. When I got home I sketched from this picture. There was no way to do this on location!

We had a great time but finally had to grab a bite in a nearby shop of noodles.

As you can imagine, life here is difficult. First the tea and then the noodles. And then the harrowing ride back home.

I'll talk about the moped experience in another post. Remind me to tell you about getting pulled over by the police.

Poise is the ability to be ill at ease inconspicuously. - Earl Wilson

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