Urumqi, China

  • Date
  • 5 April 1999

5 April 1999 – Since few Chinese have driving licenses, a professional driver is a respected, well-paying job. A new friend of ours Mr. Wren, a professional driver, invited us to dinner with his wife, Georgine Mae, his 17-year-old son, Renshaw, and his mother. Seated in their cramped, pale blue living/dining room, with an enormous 25 inch Sony television muted throughout the evening, we devoured a feast of smoked beef, cucumbers and garlic, fried potatoes, chicken with red peppers, beef skin, green beans, fish, including the head, and fried bread, like Southern corn bread.

Mr. Wren offered me, not the other women, red wine and the men drank Chinese liquor. Jim and I ate and ate and ate, but still Georgine Mae looked at me in dismay, “You are not eating. You must put meat on your bones.” I continued not wanting to offend. By the time dessert of chilled pears, bananas and apples in sweet yogurt arrived, I thought I might pop.

Renshaw, whose small bedroom is covered with five Michael Jordan posters, practiced his English throughout the evening, as we were the first English-speakers in his home. “I want to play basketball in the NBA when I graduate from college,” Renshaw shared. Our advice, “Study hard and get a scholarship to a US university.” Mr. Wren and Georgine Mae’s faces displayed pride throughout the night as their son struggled to say the right English words and understand ours.More Tai Chi