On Thursday our landlady and her son invited us to dinner with them at a very nice restaurant near us. We had known we were going to eat with them for some time, as our landlady's son, Xiaofeng, studied in America and would be able to help facilitate conversation. After work, Xiaofeng and his mother picked us up (Audrey, Daniel, Lauren, Celine, Richard Cole and myself), we drove to the restaurant and ordered a FEAST. I'm not sure I can even remember all the food we ate, but I remember how full I was. Here's my attempt at remembering: two peking duck dishes, pork ribs, kung pow chicken, peas, two soups, noodles, bread dumplings, roasted chicken, icecream, blueberry tart. Once we'd loosened our belts a notch or two, our landlady offered to take Audrey to the hair salon. She'd been wanting to get a trim for a couple of weeks, and now we would have Xiaofeng to translate for us. After much back-and-forth discussion we weren't sure whether Audrey would end up with the long layers she'd asked for or a bob with bangs straight across, but alas the trip was a success. Our landlady refused to let Audrey pay for the cut, insisting that it was her treat. In the car on the way home, Audrey and I chatted about the groceries we needed to buy the next day (we'd been out of eggs for a few days), and immediately our landlady asked us if we needed to stop at the store. We declined the offer and mentioned that we might just pick up an apple on the way to work, to which she responded "Oh what kind of fruit do you want, I'll buy you some fruit for your apartment." We thanked her for the generous offer, but told her she'd already done more than enough for us that evening. She said she just wanted to help us because she knew we were so far from home, and a mother always wants to help. I guess motherhood is the same in every culture - a good mom wants to make sure kids are taken care of. I only hope someone was as generous and caring for Xiaofeng while he was studying in the Chicago.
The next day I woke up with my stomach in knots... I knew something was off, but couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. It's funny how when you pack for a long trip in a foreign place you try to think of everything, but inevitably something always gets left behind. Well I'd resolved myself to thinking the only things I'd left behind were a hoodie sweatshirt and a rain jacket... but I was wrong. One specific, less than enjoyable, medicine also did not make the journey to China with me. I'd brought TUMS but they weren't doing the trick, so while I was at work I asked one of my colleagues to write down the characters for the medicine I was looking for so I could go to the pharmacy and try my luck. Maverick insisted he go with me to try to help me. The pharmacy near where we work didn't have what I was looking for, but rather than give up, Maverick asked his Aunt (a doctor in Shanghai) what she would suggest. He then told me he would look over the weekend and sent me home early to rest. I found out later that weekend that he had tried several pharmacies but didn't find what he was looking for, and he called to check up on me. It was so relieving to be taken care of. There's nothing worse than being sick in a foreign place where you can't find the medicines you're used to. Thankfully, I've got some good friends here to help out.
From what I've seen Southern Hospitality and Chinese Hospitality are in a race to the top!