Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Sight and Sound of Music

We’ve had a very musical weekend so far, starting with last night’s pop/rock concert. Then this morning we headed out to Music Square, a park near the ocean with large rocks etched with the faces of famous composers (when Zoe saw the Music Square sign, she said, “Look, it’s a word puzzle just like Grandpa likes!”). We ended the day at a violin concert at the Art College.

We took the bus up Island Ring Road, going a little beyond Music Square, and then walked back along the Boardwalk. The girls didn’t have any desire to go into the sand – to rocky and full of debris – but we enjoyed the walk and the view. Can you see the smoke stacks and the tanker truck? This small island between Xiamen and Tiawan has much of the heavy industry of Xiamen. There won't be much of a view to enjoy if Xiamen doesn't get a handle on environmental regulation.
We even came upon a film crew shooting what looked to be a commercial for a newspaper – it was interesting to see the cameraman pulled on a railroad track in a semicircle around the actors to get the shot. Later the cameraman was on a small crane to get a bird’s-eye view.

The composers’ faces at Music Square were interesting – look closely, they have something in common. Can you tell what it is? Post your answer in the comments! (I'll give you a hint – you can only really see it in two of the three photos below.)

The composers were not the only musical thing in Music Square – this statue is said to be organ pipes, but I have to say they bring more to mind crossed sabers or 21-gun salutes.

Maybe that impression was reinforced by the brigade of soldiers/policemen we saw in the park (I’m not sure what they are – they’re not wearing the uniform I usually see Xiamen policemen in, and I haven’t seen army people in anything but cammo). But they weren’t too threatening, since they were obviously on some kind of frolic – they were all riding bicycles built for two, obviously rented from the concession on the boardwalk.

After we frolicked in the park for a while, we headed back to the street to find a bus stop. We never quite know whether the return bus stop will be ahead of us or behind us – they don’t usually parallel the stop on the other side of the road – so we just pick a direction and walk. It didn’t take us long to find our stop, and we got to see this terrifically ornate Buddhist temple along the way.
The bus ride home was a little peculiar – there was a very strange man who insisted on communicating with me. But this wasn’t the usual communication problem of not speaking the same language – I don’t think he could speak at all. He only grunted and gestured. It started out friendly, with him “asking” if the girls were mine, and giving me a thumbs-up when I said yes. He then held up 2 fingers – are they both yours? Again, I said yes, and I got another thumb’s up and then he put a finger in front of his lips -- my secret was safe with him! He then gestures in a way that suggests he’s impressed with my zaftig physique – more thumb’s ups. Then he gestures to the bus driver, pointing at him viciously with his middle finger – pointing with the middle finger is considered very rude in China. He then makes gestures suggesting he wants to cut the bus driver’s throat! Yipes, will this ride never end?! He then gestures that he wants me to give him money, and I say no. He gestures again, I say no (in Chinese). He is no longer enamoured of my shape, it seems. And he gestures to show I’m a big-nose (Chinese sometimes call Caucasians big-noses, but this is the first time I’ve gotten that). Then he makes praying-hands gestures and points – he’s going to Nanputuo temple. Then more thumbs-ups for the girls. FINALLY the bus reaches our stop, which is his stop, too. That’s when I decide we’re not heading straight home from the bus stop and we go to a restaurant for an early lunch instead. He did not follow us, and I have no idea if he would have done anything if we'd headed home, but I really think he was not quite right in the head.

We’d gotten an email last week from the waiban’s office saying that there was a violin concert at the Art College, so we decided to check it out. The Art College is not close to us – you have to pass the law school to get there – but it seems a shame to live on a college campus and not take advantage of the things going on here. So after dinner, we headed out. It was a pleasant walk, and with the sun setting the temperature was more bearable. Forty-five minutes of walking, and we passed the lion statues guarding the entrance to the Art College.

The concert was quite good, all Western composers, and there was a student announcer who repeated everything in English which was very helpful. That’s how I know it was a Freshman concert; I would never have guessed it since the students seemed quite polished. About half-way through the concert I noticed something strange – all the students were female. Even the piano accompanists were female. Later there were two accompanists who were male, but it turned out that all the violinists were female. I have no idea why – maybe the male concert is next week?! Some of the pieces lagged, and a few seemed like overreaching for the student’s level, but most of it was excellent. The last piece was a piece for four violins, and it was wonderful. The girls really enjoyed the concert, though it was over-long for them. They behaved beautifully, though.

We walked back through campus, which is still very busy after dark. Despite Friday’s lunch conversation about rampant crime in Xiamen, I feel perfectly safe on campus. Still, it was a little disconcerting to see a police car parked near one of the apartment areas, with men with flashlights seeming to search the bushes. We just stayed with the crowds and walked on by. If men with flashlights had been in the park as we walked through, they wouldn’t have found criminals, they would have found canoodling couples. The park after dark is THE place to get romantic, since most students share dorm rooms with a minimum of three other students and no one has a car for make-out sessions. But as early as we walked through, no one was being very overt and I didn’t feel the need to cover the girls’ eyes!

It didn’t take the girls long to drop off to sleep tonight, and I’m not far behind them. We certainly enjoyed our day of musical "culture" today.


Stephie said...

The composers share the following...

1. glasses
2. flowy hair
3. turtle necks

I can't decide which to choose :)

mimifrancoise said...

I think they have Asian eyes. It is hard to tell with the one with the glasses. Thanks for the photos. I should be able to tell easily since I am working on drawing portraits but I can't be sure. bises

Anonymous said...

I agree - Asian eyes!

Vonna in Kansas

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