【中英双语】老外看中国 - CNN:中国春节实录
By James Durston, CNN
January 29, 2014 -- Updated 1120 GMT(1920 HKT)
Chinese New Year (CNY) is an exercise in excess,startingwith the train ride back home-- along with 225 million other people. The author's ride from Shenzhen toJiujiang took 15 hours and included a (common) delay of several hours.
During CNY, millions of families reunite to eat, drink andeat, drink some more. Meals can include more than a dozen courses and copiousquantities of beer and baijiu.
Eleven billion liters of baijiu wereconsumed in Chinain 2012. That's a third of all spirits consumed worldwide. Thedistilled spirit can be up to 50% alcohol by volume, makingit a frequent precursor to arguments, frivolity and forgettable karaokesessions
Karaoke is a popular after-dinner activity. Unfortunatelybaijiu often diminishes a drinker's tunefulness. Thankfully, no one cares
Firecrackers as loud as rifle shots explode throughout CNYto ward off evil spirits. Unfortunately the "evil spirits" don'tinclude hangovers.
Just when you think you've survived the CNY challenge,you're off to lunch to start the whole process over. Festivities repeat eachday for a week.
(CNN) -- I thought I could drink.
I thought I could eat.
I even thought I could sing.
Then, Chinese New Year (CNY) 2013 happened.
I didn't just lose my CNY cherry lastyear; it was ripped out of me, theflesh devoured and the stonespat back in my face.
I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted to fallin love and snuggle up and giggle childishly -- like all first times should be.
Instead I was shocked, slightly abashedand in just enough pain to hope I didn't have to do it again soon.
CNY was, as far as I understood, anannual get together for families and loved ones to enjoy each other's company.
So when my then girlfriend (now wife)suggested we go to her hometown to meet her extended family for the first time,I agreed -- with all the bouncy enthusiasm of a puppy being led to the vet.
I was happy simply to be goingsomewhere, simply to be included, blissful in my ignorance of the anguish thatawaited.
What unfolded was an education inconsumption that nearly matched in three days what I learned in four years as aScottish university student.
The CNY myth
During CNY, millions of familiesreunite to eat, drink and eat, drink some more.
If you do a little research into CNY,you'll be told it's a two-week period during which everyone goes home to honortheir ancestors, worship deities and partake in superstitions and dragon dancesthat hark back centuries.
Right. And Westerners celebrateChristmas by singing hymns, praising St Nicholas and distributing wealth and goodcheer to the needy.
It may go on in some places, for ashort while, but for the most part, in most families, it's about drinking andeating far too much and trying not to disembowel each other over a Pictionaryboard.
The real CNY -- at least myversion of it -- is a similarly non-traditional tradition that revolves aroundfood, arguments and of course baijiu, the sickly, sticky distilled spirit withmore kick than a startled mule.
It is this 100-proof (57% ABV) pungent,nasal-cavity-searing liquid that will forever tinge my memories of that firstCNY experience.
Baijiu or Bacchus?
It started with a 15-hour train ridefrom Shenzhen to Jiujiang -- because we wanted to "do it properly,like locals."
That's 225 million locals to be precise-- the number of people who traveled by train during 2013's CNY.
It involved quantities of baijiu thatdon't make any sense to our numerically challenged brains.
Eleven billion liters were consumed in China in 2012-- that's one third of all spirits consumed worldwide -- and my new familyseemed convinced they could help surpass that in 2013.
The drinking of baijiu at CNY is aceremonial affair that goes like this: there will be one uncle at the table whoquietly designates himself the "baijiu assassin" -- empty baijiuglasses and sober people are his prey.
His mission, he has decided, is toensure no one can stand up from the table without stumbling and giggling.
His weapon of choice is the toast,which works like this: he will stand, proffer his glass of baijiu towardanother member, say something auspicious about health and fortune for thecoming year, and then drink.
The irony of that act has not yet beengrasped, it seems.
In order to acknowledge and accept thetoast, the toastee must also stand and drink. Importantly, the toastee mustdrink the same quantity as the toaster.
And if you're a "yingguoren"(Englishman) or other "laowai" (foreigner) introduced to the groupfor the first time, you'll often be the subject of these toasts.
In fact, all 12 members of the grouptoasted me at least twice. And a "ganbei" and "ceremonial"slamming of the entire glass of baijiu accompanied each toast.
At one point, one of my new"cousins," whose body mass was at least twice mine, decided to paythe ultimate respect by toasting me with three consecutive tumblers full of thestuff.
In the hazy aftermath of what followed,I can vaguely recall a karaoke den, in which I decided "Ben" byMichael Jackson would be a good choice.
Tip: MJ's "Ben" is never agood karaoke choice, even when you don't have to sprint for the bathroom midwaythrough.
But I was no worse than one of my newcousins, who appeared to make the rookie mistake of confusing volume fortunefulness.
Cousin number one, he of thethree-glasses toast, revealed exactly why he was so "respectful" at dinneras he proceeded to dispossess me of loose change in a game of liar's dice.
And so on, and so forth, until the nextthing I saw was my future mother-in-law bursting into the hotel room to feed uscongee, thankfully one of the world's great hangover soothers.
Cracking morning after
I was thankful to have survived theprevious night, until I was told in an airily dismissive way to get washed anddressed for we were to have lunch soon, and the celebrations would begin allover again.
Hangovers and firecrackers. Not a nicemix.
The only way I could have felt worse isif a thousand firecrackers were going off just outside the window.
Which they were.
Those firecrackers, unleashed upon somany hungover skulls each CNY to symbolically drive away evil spirits, werelike audible nails being hammered into my ear canals.
If there is a pairing moreunfortunate than the year's most alcoholic night followedby the loudest morning after, I've not heard of it.
The second day went much like thefirst, and the third day went much like the second.
Thankfully, 2014 is not going like2013.
We're staying home. In Hong Kong. With a bottle of red.
19 hours ago
Howmany families have you surveyed before making this "Evil spirit"report? I understand that you had a bad experience, but, trust me, they havebeen trying their best to entertain you. If you were not welcome there, nobodywould like to toast you. You can politely tell them that you can not drink thatmuch, or, if there is no problem with your bladder, you can just ask theirconsent to use non-alcoholic beverage as substitute when they toast. Cheers~
James DurstonCNN Eugene
12 hours ago
HiEugene, and thanks for your thoughtful comment. In fact I had a great time,enjoyed the immense hospitality my wife's family bestowed upon me over theentire week and would recommend it to anyone. This is a somewhattongue-in-cheek report, based on one experience, designed to highlight onesmall facet of the Chinese New Year festive period - that of the drinking,particularly of baijiu. I'm actually looking forward to another - though as yousuggest I'll learn how to say "That's enough for me" next time!
（回楼上）， Hi 尤金，感谢你体贴的回复，事实上,对于我来说那是一段非常美好的回忆，整个星期我都沉浸在妻子家人的热情款待中，并且（我还会把这段经历）推荐给其他人，这是一个有点搞笑的报道，基于我工作经验，我就是想刻画出中国春节期间的一个侧面—"喝"，特别是白酒。我真的期待下个（春节）-对于你的建议，下次我会学着这么说"別灌我了"
43 minutes ago
Iunderstand, James. I found the story witty and entertaining. Alas, Commentlandconsists almost exclusively of humorless PC zealots.
Hewas simply pointing out the culture clash.
Butseriously... "Ask their consent to use non-alcoholic beverage"... ASKCONSENT? Even in your statement you have eluded to the fact that it is nearlyimpossible to NOT have baijiu dumped down your throat during the Chinese NewYear.
It'ssimply one of those major differences in culture that are a once a year type ofdeal and therefore not easily acclimated to.
Yetmore Sinophobia from CNN.
It's not sinophobia - it's an article about cultureclash. Come on... please.
a White guy writing about China with a Chinese wife,says it all doesn't it? It says to me "don't even bother readingthis"
Indeed probably can't speak a lick of Chinese either...
Not easy to learn unless you take a serious interestin learning it.
Pretty much spot on, although Iwouldn't have used the same acronym used for the Chinese Yuan (CNY), it made ita difficult read.
"The drinking of baijiu at CNY is a ceremonialaffair that goes like this: there will be one uncle at the table who quietly designates himself the "baijiu assassin" -- empty baijiu glasses and soberpeople are his prey." 100% accurate, at least for the past 11 SpringFestivals I've been here.
That was funny! No need to delve into thinkinganything else about the narrative except what a funny episode it was
There is a lot more to CNY than baijiu and karaoke.THis is the time where we give our wishes to each other (parents wish childrenlots of success at school, children wish parents good health). We will then goand pay visits to elders of the extended family, to dear friends, to relatives,to neighbors, always giving them the best of wishes. Kids will be allowed towear new clothes (for those families who can afford).There is also food that iscooked specially during the New Year. Karaoke is just a modern form ofentertainment. There is of course playing cards, mah jong, etc. I wish thereport had been more complete!
chinese thieves stop stealing our islands senkaku andculture. looks like japan needs to civilize you again.
They selected a coachpotato to do a travel article
A funny, and well written travel piece, unlike somuch of the travel crap published by CNN.
The author clearly should have stayed in Kansas....international adventure is not for everyone. I did his trip in 1986 and 1994...he hasn't a clue what CNY is about.
Further, I would hate traveling with you mate!
What ever happend to adventure, Carpi Diem... butmake sure you complain about EVERY THING along the way... you wouldn't make ifpast the first week in my company on the road.
oh he is from Kansas? oh lawd...
DeaconStan, Jesus Man
Well, firecrackers during a hangover is a real donkeypunch, but I can't help but notice you being such a wuss about it.