A Chinese wedding banquet at the Sheraton Hotel. Roger, the bridegroom, wore only his one suit. Very often however, in the course of the proceedings, the bride changes 3 times. In this case, at first Aishuan put on a white gown, then a pink one, and lastly, at the end of the banquet, she wore a red one to greet the guests. From my experience attending at least 7 Chinese Wedding Banquets, I noticed that there is a variety of dishes, at least 20, and that doesn’t include the appetizers. Many of them are excellent. I have tasted lobster, hairy Shanghai crabs, turtle, duck, sharkfin soup, sharksfin soup, razor clams. On my 70th birthday, Aishuan’s mother spent a day shopping and a day cooking. The list of dishes included, among others: black chicken with herbs, pig’s trotters, taro cake, sticky rice, dried fish roe sandwiched between oriental pear, and steamed snapper. At a party, if you plan to stay sober and not stagger to the taxi queue, be sure not to say “gan bei” at a toast because that means “bottoms up.”
It was my last day in Taipei. I was “sauntering” in the neighborhood and saw this small tea shop. There were people inside having tea. I was invited to come in. An old Chinese was presiding over the ceremony, serving the most expensive tea I have ever tasted in my life. The teas were something like 10 to 20 years old. I cannot find the adjective to describe them. After exchanging information, he asked me to do a bit of Tai chi. While I did the first section of the Classical Yang Family Tai chi chuan solo form, he chanted a sutra that sounded familiar to me. Then he wrote something on a piece of paper saying that Tai chi will clear the mind. There’s more but I can’t translate it. It was great sitting right across from the master whose qi and stillness, especially when he closed his eyes, and presence just permeated the tea shop. He served more of the expensive tea and then he chanted again, this time a longer sutra which was also vaguely familiar to it. That “accidental” encounter was probably the highlight of the whole journey. Oh yes, I bought a rather cheap tea — compared to the $400 -500 kind — at $136!