Jyanni Steffensen Her feet covered many cocoons...
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Playing Diabolo

Li Zhuo called the people with whom Orlando Jones did taijiquan "the old people in the park". Orlando Jones thought of them as middle aged. The older people she knew were elsewhere in the park playing the erhu and singing Beijing opera. Sometimes, they were shopping for the family's daily needs. Then they would go home and cook the breakfast for the whole family. Along the pathway furthermost from the river, some older men came on their bicycles with tiny songbirds in cages. They removed the cage covers and suspended the cages in the trees. The birds sang while the men chatted. An even older man, almost ancient, exercised by spinning a bamboo top on a very long piece of string suspended between two sticks. He moved his arms very quickly to keep the top spinning along the string. As the top picked up speed, it began to hum and gradually built to a loud roar as the wind flowed through the holes in the sides of the top's drum. Orlando Jones was impressed. She learned that this was called "playing diablo." Diablos came in hundreds of sizes and shapes. She wanted to play.

The park in which the older people played was the same park by the river where Orlando Jones had made a speech to some five thousand first- year students shortly after she arrived in China. She was driven to the park in another of those big, shiny black cars with opaque windows. Everyone else, the other faculty members, travelled in a minibus. Orlando Jones had found herself seated on an oversized red podium with pots of bright yellow marigolds, and the entire senior administration of the University, from the President down. They were predominantly men. Orlando Jones wore a pin stripped wool suit and the inevitable Armani sunglasses, which she forgot to remove during her speech. She sat between the Vice-President and her old dancing partner, Li Wangpo, the Chancellor. After the introductions, the Chinese national Anthem played, red flags fluttered. For a moment Orlando Jones watched this scene - she had seen it hundreds of times on Australian television - in which a host of Chinese dignitaries were arranged artfully on a huge red dais banked with flowers and red and gold flags. Then she saw that on the podium facing the crowd of expectant (or bored) Chinese students was a western woman - and it was she. Just then a huge dragon boat glided past and Orlando Jones was happy. She also made the evening news on television.

Orlando Jones was also on the evening news on Christmas night eating Beijing duck with the Mayor and the National People's Congress deputy.