Feast and facials

Bowing needs to come naturally. I shake hands naturally, but this is not done. My bows come from then waist, not the hips, and they are a little late, as they require that second’s thought.

Last night Dr Ben, my physiatrist host, took me to the original buffet – the model of all those Great Peking restaurants in the States that are the last resort of the really hungry. Despite the profusion of interesting-looking foods, I stuck with what I could identify – Japanese. Good sashimi and sushi interspersed with tiny asparagus and small coconuts full of juice. “Is that your second?” asked Dr Ben, “I wouldn’t go for the third since you have to teach tomorrow” – the implication being diarrhea.

I might have gone for the more exotic, but a basket full of raw chicken kidneys rather put me off. The dim sum, though good, was flled with unidentifiable meat. Today’s lunch, catered to the workshop room, featured fish and pork and something that tasted ‘just like chicken’.

20 people in this workshop – a number of doctors of rehabilitative medicine, and a smattering of physiotherapists from the same hospital, a chiropractor, an Alexander teacher, and some I don’t know what’s. They seem to like what I am doing, but it is hard to tell.

Tonight I went to the spa, and steamed and had a facial – first of my life, I think – from ‘Keri’ – I have yet to figure out how they all come by these Western names – the workshop is laced with Daniel, Judy, Joleen, Erica, Jimmy (who seem to have adopted these names on top of their Chinese names) along with Ko and Chou and Chien. I fear I snored my way through most of the facial, since my clock is still a few hours off, and so to bed, the better to face the lines tomorrow.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but the profusion of different complexions, from the nearly white to the swarthy, and from the high-cheeked, triangular-faced ‘northerners’ (to my eye) to the more rounded and softened (almost Negroid) features of others is a continuous surprise. I wonder if there is a class system here, but I cannot detect it. One girl at the restaurant, with as balck and straight hair as anyone there, had a T-shirt that declared “I had a nightmare I was a brunette”. My own grey hair is a rarity, even among the elderly.

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