went to work for 2 hours this morning before driving down to new york city with my parents. well, actually, newark, new jersey, and not to protest the republican national convention, but to visit a family relative from china (my father's mother's sister's daughter's 44 year old son), visiting the US for the very first time, on a multi-city american tour (san francisco, new york, chicago, las vegas, los angeles), staying at the wyndham hotel by the airport for 2 nights. we got a little lost trying to find the hotel, and my father even asked for directions, as i embarasssingly slid down in the backseat.

concord grape


moonflower spiral

the first and last time my father met zhang yu was 18 years ago when he went to china to visit some distant relatives in shenyang. this was in 1986, when china not yet in its current economic boom, with most of the country still poor, families sharing a single bed and the village sharing a communal bathroom. now things are different. back then zhang yu was 25 years old and about to be get married; now, he's a husband and a father, living in a condo, with a seemingly prestigious government job. what was more impressive were his gadgets: he had the sony DSC-T1 digital camera and some 3-CCD sony camcorder. the language of gadgetry is universal apparently. although this was just the second time my father was meeting zhang yu, everyone chatted like we've known each other always, like close family. he had great stories of all the hurdles he had to jump in order to get here, like applying for a US visa with a stack of paperwork, to prove to them he wasn't a flight risk. coming into the US, he had his luggages thoroughly searched. he didn't arrive empty-handed, bringing with him with presents from china, as well as photos to share. likewise, my father did the same, with a homemade dvd of some family videos for zhang yu to take back to china. i got a business card, and what i found really interesting was the number of digits in chinese phone numbers, with several hundred billion possible combinations (probably impossible to memorize, but the only way to accommodate such a large population).

we had dinner at don shula's steakhouse at the ground floor of the hotel (wasn't very good, but the only restaurant nearby, and filled with nauseating yankee paraphernalia), chatted some more (i was able to catch a bit of bush's republican national convention speech), then left for the 4 hour drive back to boston, coming back home finally at 3am. i drove for the final half because my father was getting sleepy, but my parents were so fearful of my fast driving that i don't think they were able to sleep the whole time, asking me repeatedly to slow down.

what i initially thought would be a lame trip (because we wouldn't be in manhattan, i had a notion to get down to union square to get some protest photos) turned out to be pretty interesting. i have an open invitation to visit shenyang if i ever want to.