A Tronkie Travellogue
Day 9: Beijing, China
09:00 - 13:00: Another quiet day at home, waiting for the ISP (CNC) repair people to restore the ADSL service. It turns out that there was a balance outstanding on the second phone bill. One of the things about ISP accounts in Asia is that you don't get mail and e-mail reminders all the time as you do in the USA. In any case, they will supposedly turned the service back on within 24 hours of 17:00 yesterday afternoon.
By 11:00, they claim that the service is back on, but despite having hooked up my uncle's new DLink 54g combo router, I'm not getting a connection.
13:00 - 15:30: Memento (2000)
At home, I watched Memento, an excellent and novel film that is on IMDb's Top 250 list, but has a relatively small number of ratings. My uncle and cousins thought it was good, but my uncle notes that it's considered a bit of a cult film.
The movie tells the story of Leonard Shelby, a man who suffers from anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories), the result of an apparent hippocampus injury sustained during his attempt to save his wife from two attackers who killed her. The movie's scenes occur in reverse chronological order, each playing forward from the last episode of memory loss. Shelby is hunting his wife's killer, and takes photos, leaves notes to himself, and even tattoos important clues on his skin in order to transmit information to himself from day to day.
In the very first scene, Shelby is seen taking a Polaroid photo of a man he has just shot in the head. The plot that unwinds after this shows the events that led up to the killing, a fascinating series of causal revelations.
Memento is memorable more for its plot, screenwriting, and directing than for its acting. Carrie-Anne Moss does a good job as one of the main characters who interacts with the narrator. If you are concerned that she has been typecast as Trinity from the Matrix series, you should see this film, in which she is refreshingly unrecognizable.
9 / 10
15:30 - 16:30: I make several phone calls on my aunt's cell phone to my mom, aunt, and uncle, who are out shopping with Grandmother. My cousins were due in from Guangzhou in the early afternoon, but it seems that they didn't make the flight. (ETA, 18:10 BST Sat 24 Jun 2006: Later, we learned that the airlines in China, particularly out of Guangzhou, simply cut off boarding as early as 45 minutes before the flight if they have overbooked - no vouchers, no upgrades, "just a big `screw you'", as my old classmate Jesse Reichler would put it.)
16:40 - 17:10: My uncle acts as a go-between with the ISP, who starts telling him to have me unplug the cable modem and wireless router and plug them back in, unseat my NIC and plug it back in, etc. (As my computer is a Dell Inspiron 6000 with on-board 802.11b/g, unseating the NIC is not an option.) Eventually my uncle tells them to cut it out, as it's starting to sound like "how many computer science PhDs does it take" joke. Seriously - putzes.
17:30 - 19:30: Dinner was at a Sichuanese restaurant called Chuan1 Ban4 (Sichuan Office). For those who haven't followed my blog closely, my mother's father (and father of all the aunts and uncles chronicled in this travellogue) was from Sichuan province, and so this is as close to home cooking at it gets.
Lotus root slices stuffed with glutinous rice
Chicken in chili sauce
Rice noodles in chili sauce
Beef slices with green onions
Lettuce in peanut butter sauce
Hot corn porridge
Stir-fried pea leaves and vines
Bacon and green peppers
Sichuanese chili chicken
Ham and black pudding in red chilies
Chicken cured in black pepper with fresh red chili
Snapper in sweet tomato sauce
Chicken and radish slice soup with wolfberries
Cornbread muffins with corn
Deep-fried sesame pastry with sweet yam filling
Sesame-covered glutinous rice balls with peanut butter filling
Tofu in oyster and chili sauce
Hot and sour noodles
Hot and spicy tofu with peanuts
For those who doubted that Sichuanese cooking is of a superior grade of heat:
Fourth Aunt plays "Where's
23:30: My cousin Emily and her husband Minki, and her brother Jon and his girlfriend Michelle, arrive from Guangzhou.