Jyanni Steffensen Her feet covered many cocoons...
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Hangzhou Road

Meanwhile, Orlando Jones was exploring the olfactory and visual dimensions of Hangzhou Road. She was also remarkably unafraid of the videodisc-hurling retailer. The herb and spice section of the undercover market proved seductive. She often lingered lovingly by the opened bags (their tops rolled back) of whole dried herbs and spices which the vendor would scoop out on request. The smell of this section of the markets enticed her from the doorway whether she was intending to buy or not. Sometimes, she loitered in the seafood area, watching the vendors catch a customer's choice of fish from the big glass tank and throw it, still flapping, on the scales. Sometimes the customer (or even Orlando Jones herself) took the fish home wriggling and gasping in a plastic bag, or had the vendor decapitate and clean it on the spot. Crabs and other, unidentified, sea creatures wriggled in other tanks and tubs. The floor in this area was always awash in salt water, the air saturated with the smell of fresh seafood. In this market she saw a man in a PLA uniform who was exceptionally tall and had the most remarkable eyes. He stared at her. Everyone stared at her. She was (very) white. She stared back.

It was in the markets too that Orlando Jones began to explore the delights of eating silkworms. There were baskets of little brownish shell like items sold among the vegetables. She assumed that they were foodstuffs. She was curious, and one day when buying tomatoes (fresh and delicious), she peered closely at these little things in the baskets. Alarmed (to the delight of the vendor), she realised that some of them were moving. Not alarmed that they were moving as such, but that she had guessed (accurately) that they were silkworm cocoons and that they were, indeed, foodstuff. On a Friday night, not long after this discovery, Orlando Jones was dining out with a party of twenty-five people (eight different nationalities). The first dish to arrive on the table was fried silkworms. Less unnerved now that the silkworms were no longer mobile, Orlando Jones attacked them with curiosity. They were delicious. A week later, dining out with some of her adult students in another restaurant near the Jinzhou Christian Council church, she tried them roasted. They were equally delicious.

Orlando Jones began writing A History of Chinese Culinary Moments . These moments included her first banquet in China. She was driven to the restaurant by the local head of the Bureau of Public Security in his shiny, black car and later danced with the Chancellor. On the way back from a visit to a thousand-year-old Buddhist temple, at a hotel, she had eaten live prawns. The prawns were drunk, drowned in bijiu . They drowned at the table, thrashing wildly in a covered glass bowl. At Mid-autumn Festival she had feasted with a judge and his family and had snacked on jujubes (Chinese dates) and chestnut mooncakes. At a local workers restaurant she had gnawed corned and boiled slivers of pork (which melted tenderly in her mouth) from Viking sized chunks of bone. On Christmas Eve she had dined with the Mayor of Jinzhou and the local NPC deputy on dishes of salmon and duck whose taste had delighted her into speechless wonder. At Spring Festival she ate sweet sticky rice dumplings, round and white as ping-pong balls. In restaurants, eating was accompanied by toasts with beer ( pijiu), all but undrinkable grape wine ( hong putao jiu, bai putao jiu ) or the lethal rice wine ( bijiu ) and the usual shouts of ganbai (Cheers!). She ate with Chines friends, with friends of friends, with Chinese families, with students, with local dignitaries, with the other teachers. She ate with anyone. She became a tramp of eating.

The greater part of the inhabitants of the province of Cathay drink a sort of wine made from rice mixed with a variety of spices and drugs. This beverage, or wine as it may be termed, is so good and well flavoured that they do not wish for better. It is clear, bright, and pleasant to the taste, and being (made) very hot, has the quality of inebriating sooner than any other.

In Hangzhou Road, Orlando Jones also discovered the delights of Chinese bathhouses. The bathhouse was easy to find. It was next to a shop that was called AVON. Here - in the bathhouse - Orlando Jones was broiled, steamed, cooled, heated again, cooled again and kneaded until she submitted to relaxation.

These stones do not flame, excepting a little when first lighted, but during their ignition give out considerable heat. It is true that there is no scarcity of wood in the country, but the multitude of inhabitants is so immense, and their stoves and baths, which they are continually heating so numerous, that the quantity could not supply the demand; for there is no person who does not frequent the warm bath at least three times a week, and during the winter daily, if it is in their power. [18]

Orlando Jones developed, at this time, a taste for photographing trees. Although, theoretically, it should not have surprised her, she was astonished to find so many typically Chinese species of trees growing in China. She had developed a passion for Chinese gardens from her collection of glossy gardening books before ever arriving in Beijing. Little forests of ginko and willow tress lined the drive from Beijing airport to the city and the highway, through endless maize fields, to Jinzhou. The prehistoric ginkos also lined the streets of Jinzhou, wrapped in winter in little quilts of straw and brown paper to protect them against the cold. On campus, some mature evergreen conifers - like those often seen in Chinese and Japanese drawing - were dug up and stored. Orlando Jones was amazed by this degree of horticultural care. For Spring Festival the trees were unwrapped and decorated gaily with coloured lights. In the early morning sometimes, she lingered, reading, in the classic garden behind the Foreign Languages Building. Here, she often surprised young Chinese student lovers seeking privacy in the vine-covered arbour, or reading out aloud in English to themselves. One day she listened, rapt, to a young man reading a short story in which a character called "the governor" kept appearing. He was reading to a bush, and disappeared when he realised that Orlando Jones was listening, smiling. She began to photograph trees in all seasons, haunting the parks and gardens around the city.

There is another regulation adopted by the Grand Kahn (Kublai), equally ornamental and useful. At both sides of the public roads he causes trees to be planted, of a kind that become large and tall, and being only two paces asunder, they serve (besides the advantage of their shade in summer) to point out the road (when the ground is covered with snow); which is of great assistance and affords much comfort to travellers… besides the motives that have been assigned for these plantations, it may be added that the Grand Kahn is the more disposed to make them, from the circumstances of his diviners and astrologers having declared that those who plant trees are rewarded with long life. [19]

Orlando Jones breathed in the perfume from the vases of fresh flowers - roses, carnations, gerberas and stems of gladioli - which appeared on the table at the head of the stairs in her apartment building hallway. One day she surprised a baby rabbit scuttling along the hallway. She never learned who owned the rabbit.

From time to time Orlando Jones forgot about the roman policier. Lily Wong made arrangements to photograph hotel rooms in Beijing.