The future ahead is not bright. It is actually red and a very bright red. Because red is the colour of China, the Chinese flag and one of the luckiest colours used in all festivals and important events in the Chinese world. Team Onetimefashionista is fully on board this emergence of the red horizon on the anvil and I had been enriching my Mandarin language arsenal for a while now in a bid to conquer China very soon with words ofcourse. So I got myself enrolled with GoChinEasy Academy in London to attend regular Chinese classes to formalise my immersion into zhong wen. We have a meetup.com group which arranges from time to time, social events and tours around London with a touch of Chinese in almost everything. The latest was a dinner and a walking tour around China town to celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year of the Sheep.
Our language group got together first at the Chang’s Noodle restaurant in New Oxford Street in the evening. This joint is very popular with Chinese residents in London and it was obvious from the décor inside that they have put minimal attention to put up bells and whistles since the kitchen is kept busy in any case with the huge inflow of hungry diners who are fond of the fantastic flavours. Our laoshi (teacher) arrived and very naturally started to communicate with the waiters in Mandarin. The food we had was simply awesome and certainly very spicy. I am yet to learn how to eat with chopsticks so had to settle with forks. It is important, as I realised, to learn even the Chinese way of eating – and that is with chopsticks. Over the dinner table our group of some 10 mandarin speakers also got to learn important cultural tips and trivia about the Chinese New Year and how it is celebrated in Chinese families all around the world. For example, the advice that it is good custom and courtesy to gently knock the table with your knuckles twice to ‘say thank you’ to your host or neighbour who may be putting some more green tea into your cup. Also, we got the chance to brush up the vocabulary on how to order food, how to order cutleries and more importantly how to compliment the taste i.e. delicious, you liked it or not etc.
Later we took a nice little walk around China Town which was already decorated in lots of red, yellow and green festoons, balloons to welcome the Year of the Sheep. There is a celebration around China Town and Leicester Square on 22nd February Sunday when a lot of dragon dances and merry making are expected. Make sure you arrive there early on Sunday if you want to get a good glimpse. We walked around Chinese restaurants which were busy with diners from all parts of the world. That is the beauty of London anyways that diversity is the king (or queen?) here. The amount of languages you will hear when you take a walk down Oxford Street, you will get to realise that there is a big world which speaks a language which you don’t and so you have more to learn. Our group took some group photos and some entertained themselves with some hot chocolate. We finished our tour on a high note and wishing each other zai jian and gong xi fa cai!