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Sunday February 11, 2007.|
Woke up early at around 7 o’clock something, a bit excited combined with a bit of nervousness. I got a role—meeting minutes writer! However, I fell asleep again until being waken up by telephone calls and subsequent e-mails to write to respond business requests. What a Sunday morning for me!
After hurrying through washing and breakfast, I realized I would be late for the gathering. I hate to see Hudson brandishing the sword of “Be Punctual!”. Joking apart, I really respect this stern-looking yet sociable fella who is also very capable and determined. Being lucky enough to witness his great improvements in terms of public speaking skills and organizing capacity, I feel a bit ashamed of myself. How many times we’ve been stressing: one can achieve nothing without vision, motivation and perseverance. He possesses all of these traits, no wonder. Joyce is another good example to follow. However she was absent from the meeting. She had gone home for her family reunion during the Holidays, leaving us “the homeless” suffering from “ordeals” of impromptu speeches and heated debates and discussions.
After CD President Hudson’s routine opening speech, Crystal, a doll-like girl took the floor as the Host. However tender she looks, she could put things under control, not in an aggressive way, of course. For the impromptu speech part, Titi and I volunteered to take the roles. As I was over-whelmed by my last-minute preparation, I did not pay attention to her speech making. All I could remember was the topic, i.e. what is your proudest thing? That was exactly in sharp contrast to mine—what is the most embarrassing thing in your life? The topic reminded me of an interesting and useful English idiom as in the sentences:
1. My job was to get as much information as possible so that my boss would not be caught with her pants down;
2. The actor was caught with his pants down when he was having sex with a prostitute in the back of his car. He was arrested and the media made a fuss of it.
Well, such thing has never happened to me and will never will.
Table discussions saw a dozen participants sitting around two tables, talking ardently over topics picked by Crystal. Our table, Ivy, Frank, Titi, Veronica and me, rushed through all three topics and finally settled down on Topic 2., i.e. the Starbucks issue. Coincidentally at later stage we realized the other table represented by Hudson also focused on the same issue. Participants formed two opposing fronts:
One, “Peacemakers” represented by Hudson, Ivy and Frank who tried to make balance between tourists’ nature demands for water and relaxation with preserving the historic background. They believed it should be alright for tea/coffee houses located inside Forbidden City under certain preconditions such as no eminent logo sign, decoration in harmony with the vermilion-walled background;
The other, “Extremists” as crowned by Hudson, represented by Crystal, Titi and me proposed a sheer No to Starbucks or any other foreign or local restaurants or tea/coffee shops visible within this historical complex, arguing that any typical modern and alien commercial thing could ruin the scene and even hurt the national pride. Furthermore they called for the need to keep the historical site the way it should be as much as impossible. “After all, the tourists are here to revere the history and the culture relics and ancient civilization. They have plenty places to go to eat and drink and relax, not here!” as put forward by Alhaji. He even went on further as to saying “Out of sight, out of mind”, which was echoed by Titi. When Ivy mentioned this was also universal practice, Mr. Q, the Korean teacher from ROK, nodded.
However heated the debate was, Hudson put it that we were here to learn the language, make friends and broaden our views, in another word, shape us more open-minded and impartial. Well, all of us had learned to agree to disagree. When it came to the social lunch time, all of us were on good terms, talking randomly just like a family.
There is a long break before our next meeting on March 4, 2007. Let’s keep anticipating meanwhile extend best wishes to all CD members for a Healthy, Lucky & Prosperous New Year!
Regards from Alhaji