October 2006


This is a picture that I think my Nephew took in the courtyard of the old family home when we went to make offerings for the deceased on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

I didn’t notice this picture so much before, but for some reason am really captivated by it now.

I think that’s because it’s a family picture for me, not a still-life, taken in the courtyard of the extended family’s old “traditional” home, where my late Father-in-Law grew up as a child, where my Wife and her siblings grew up until a couple years after the Cultural Revolution, where all the extended family still reunites for funeral and memorial rites for the ancestors.

Somehow for me, all that gets compacted into a picture my Nephew took on this day of a motorcycle one of the cousins arrived on (the one I think looks like the Chinese John Mellenkamp), in front of some flowers tended by one of the great aunts.

Here are a few views from the rooftop of my Wife’s family home in Anhai.

You can see representations of the various “stages” of housing development throughout this part of town (although the video quality isn’t that great).

We’ve caught more than a few good sunsets from up there, though, and it’s also where my Mother-in-Law keeps a flower garden, hangs the laundry to dry, and where we took the kids to play with sparklers during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

This view shows you one of the neighbor’s own rooftop gardens:

Another view looking West:

And here’s the “Bigfoot Spotted!” quality video pan from the roof:

A couple times we visited the local park in Anhai during the Chinese New Year season, taking the girls and our nephew to the playground for a change of scenery. I wrote earlier about seeing the local police make an arrest just after one of our visits (Book’em, Da Niu: Front Row Seats to a Chinese Arrest).

Our first visit included no police action, but was still somewhat interesting. We went just a day or two before the Chinese New Year festival kicked off, and my Wife expected it would be mostly deserted, since everyone should be off making festival preparations.

Again, things have changed considerably since her childhood, as we found the park fairly crowded, with lots “Northerners,” the migrant workers from inland who’ve come to Anhai for jobs in its factories, restaurants, KTV palaces, and so on (see “Northerners: The Other ‘Lao Wai‘”). We realized they probably didn’t have the time or money to head back to their home provinces to ring in the New Year.

Here are a few pictures from the day.

The whole time we were there, the man on the right, visiting the park with his wife and son, took his eyes off us only once–here when I aimed the camera in his direction as a “reality check”:

You can’t tell it very well from this photo, but these fellows were passing the afternoon at the pool table:

Random camera angle:

Our youngest daughter climbing her way to the top (in the background on the left, that’s a bumper car arena):

My Wife helps my youngest Daughter onto what we dubbed “The Slalom Toy of Death” after our other Daughter took a spill off it:

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