Friday, April 22, 2011: Family Day
Feng Jing Zhen 楓涇鎮 – Walking the Streets
Mom, Lin-Ai, Qing Qing, Xiao Chen, Auntie, Kelly and I (whoa, what a jumble of people!) embarked on a promenade down the back streets of Feng Jing Zhen for a simple, small-town shopping experience. The ground was composed of rough, gray stones. The streets were narrow with occasional indentations housing little shops. Elderly people sat on wooden stools, just being simple people in a simple village. There was a painting above one of the stores, one of those Chinese landscape sketches of rivers, lakes, bridges, mountains, and Mother Nature. Xiao Chen told me a well-known phrase the villagers live by: 小橋流水人家 － Xiao Qiao, Liu Shui, Ren Jia (Small Bridge, Flowing Water, Family & Home). The painting exhibited a placid village amidst crossing bridges, towering mountains, and intersecting blue rivers. Feelings of familial love and sense of harmony exuded from the simple, but deep picture. The phrase Xiao Chen was elaborating on made the painting all the more special. Basically, everyone in the community is connected; no matter how small the bridge is, there is always that physical link between neighbors. Water symbolizes purity and continuous flow of fortune, always present in Chinese shops, restaurants, offices, and homes. Water will hopefully bring in the money, happiness, and luck. It will also wash and clear out any negative energy. Lastly, the essence of family is embedded in the Chinese character for home, or ‘jia.’ Embedded in the character is a sense of unity and togetherness. I thought that was a particularly powerful portrait of the village.
I like this sequence of pictures we took on our saunter. Mom and her sister Lin-Ai were arm-in-arm, heads together, gossiping and bonding over lost time. Kelly and I, representing the next generation, walked a distance behind, in perfect line with our corresponding roles. That is, big sisters were on the right side (Mom and Connie) and little sisters linked and off to the left (Lin-Ai and Kelly). It was an amusing Kodak moment. Qing Qing took the shots and here they are:
What did we spend on that afternoon? Mom stopped at a tiny shop and embarked on a spree for sandals, hand-woven baskets, and fire rocks. The straw baskets were ideal for fruits and vegetables, or whatever else Mom wanted to toss in there. She ended up buying maybe 3 decent-sized baskets. There were also these fancy black lava rocks for rubbing the undersides of the foot to rid of dead skin and maintain overall foot health. Mom bought two-handfuls. I also saw a large wooden bucket. Xiao Chen explained to me the importance of foot health in Asia. Every night, before going to bed, it is of natural importance to clean and bathe the feet in warm water. It is tonic for the whole body, allowing for circulation and overall relaxation. I guess that’s why Mom always made me wash my feet before getting home, mainly for cleanliness reasons. And maybe it’s in my genes to absolutely hate walking barefoot anywhere, except where I know I’m in a clean area, like my home. I hate walking sans footwear on the sandy beach, in the shower, at people’s homes, etc… I’m used to following the Chinese way of living, where you wear sandals in the house. Or socks. But I do like my feet free, so I prefer flip-flops or flats. I’ll be sure to play around with those handy lava rocks! And try this evening feet-warming-and-bathing session.
We circled around the streets, over a bridge, and onto a bigger street. More shopping was pursued, obviously. Kelly bought sneakers. Lin-Ai bought a pink tennis shirt. I resisted the urge. Instead, I conversed with Qing Qing and Xiao Chen, while listening to the songs playing in the store. Again, my Asian side prevailed, since I started singing and dancing to Top Combine’s “Cotton Candy” and SHINee’s “Ring Ding Dong.” The latter song is absolutely contagious! I heard it, pointed to Kelly, who was trying on colorful sneakers, and said, “Hey Kelly, it’s Ring Ding Dong.” In her seat, right next to Shen Shen, she put down her shoes and started dancing to ~Ring Ding Dong~ My, my, it was hilarious!
We circled back to base. We met up with Ah-Gu, who looked a tad too red and tired ((O.O)). I bet he has the Asian gene… Anyway, we said our good-byes to Ah-Gu and Shen Shen, wishing them the best of luck and hoping to visit again in the near future. Then, we were on our merry way back to Shanghai city.