Zip and zither

The music of the 古筝 (gǔzhēng).

Guzheng (Chinese zither) After a somewhat lazy weekend which was only punctuated by lightening my wallet in an attempt to further familiarise myself with Chinese culture, I thought I’d go for a stroll this evening after tea and headed down the road past Jinli and Wuhou Temple. Outside Jinli, there was a girl on a raised platform playing a 古筝 “(Chinese) zither”, and there was a sign up about activities connected with the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节). Yup, I was able to read enough of it to have a half-way decent understanding of what the sign said.

I first saw a 古筝 about fifteen years ago being played down Petty Cury in Cambridge one Saturday morning. Since I was in need of some sort of diversion at the time, I listened for quite awhile.

Anyway, ’tis the Mid Autumn Festival tomorrow, I believe. We got given a box of mooncakes today, which, I see from inspecting them just now, do have the content identified on the wrapper. Sometimes it’s stamped on the mooncake itself. I can’t help but wonder what happens to the substantial packaging once people have gorged themselves on the contents. The box I have (and the ones I’ve had in the past) is pretty solid and cloth-lined. I suppose the Chinese unceremoniously dispose of the boxes which are then collected by the bin divers to be sold to the scrap merchants. Meanwhile, foreigners who are given mooncakes probably all say to themselves (of the box), “It seems like such a waste. There should be something I can do with the it.” Really, you just have to throw the box away, usually with the less palatable contents.

Some mooncakes are tolerable and others contain some hidden horror within. In the midst of some sweet, unidentified paste which you can eat without too much discomfort, there may lurk a salty egg yolk (cooked, natch) or some nameless lump of meat. After a few of these, you try and avoid mooncakes altogether, which is why the contents should be clearly labelled in English so that we can distinguish the ones we can eat from those which we would give to newbies who know no better.

I also have to wonder what happens to all the unsold boxes. No matter how often you go into any supermarket in the country, there are stacks of unsold mooncakes. The pile never grows, but it never gets any smaller either. I guess that at the end of the day you’re left with 月饼山.

I note the passing of Marcel Marceau. To recall his life, did people observe a minute’s noise?


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