Even in a crowded place

Posted in Travel at 17:00 by RjZ

I am sitting all alone and eating. I am surrounded by ten people, but I am all alone. They speak with each other and toast each other and sometimes I raise my glass with them, but I am in China and I don’t speak the language and none of them speaks mine. One of them, my colleague speaks English, but it can be difficult to be understood by him, although I think this has more to do with his personality than his language skills. He is enjoying the company of his former classmates and reaching across the table for the crab and he is not speaking with me.

I am using chopsticks to select my meal from the plates as the parade of food slowly passes by me on the lazy susan. There are ten of us, but the plates are stacked, sometimes three deep, with food. I don’t eat meat, but don’t complain as I fish a piece of bok choy or a chunk of potato from the depths of the bowl with shrimps. I don’t mind the pork sauce raining from a delicate wood’s ear mushroom. There is more than enough for me to eat, as long as I ignore what it sits next to on the plate and everything is delicious which makes ignoring much easier.

Eventually, watermelon comes and I know this means the meal is almost over. Suddenly, a few moments after everyone has had a chance to have a slice, we abruptly stand and it’s time to go. I follow my host to the car and say good bye in poor chinese to my new friends whom I have not met, but who smile and shake my hand warmly.

I am alone in the car now. We’re going somewhere, either to another customer visit, or perhaps some site seeing. It’s not clear, but my host has just finished chatting with the driver for sometime and leaned his chair back to take nap. He tells me it will be over an hour driving, but not where we’re going. It has started raining and he has started snoring, and I don’t really know what happens next or where I will sleep tonight, or even which direction the car is heading in. The radio is on, but it’s not talking or singing to me. I don’t really have much else to do, so I relax and stare out the car window as the rain begins to fall.


  1. Mike said,

    July 27, 2009 at 21:08

    Who knew you had a poetic side.

  2. RjZ said,

    July 28, 2009 at 9:07

    Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

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