Monday the 7th of November was my first Eid in China. I celebrated with friends by hosting a curry night and feeding 20 people a feast for the occasion!
I visited Niujie Mosque, which was the first mosque I have visited that did not look in my mind like a ‘typical’ mosque! It was a great to see Beijing’s oldest mosque that was special and unique to China. It incorporated traditional Chinese architecture to give it a real sense of place. Elements common to both traditional Chinese and Mosque architecture are courtyards and gardens; within the mosque it creates a sense of serenity. It was amazing how calm and quiet the courtyards were considering just outside the mosque was a wide 6-lane busy main road.
Mosque’s Minaret within the courtyard.
Narrow walkways connecting the buildings, hiding and revealing what is beyond.
Courtyard outside the men’s prayer hall – an area that extends as an external prayer space on Eid.
Chinese roofs and detailing mixed with Islamic decorations.
The 11th of November was Singles Day in China, a day celebrated or mourned by the unattached. This day was first celebrated in Nanjing by students in the mid 1990’s and has now turned into a multi-million pound industry that I knew nothing about. The date was picked because of the solitary digits and the number 1 can mean “bare sticks” in Chinese and refer to Bachelors. This year was especially significant as it fell on 11/11/11, which only happens once every hundred years. It was celebrated across Beijing with parties and in the cinema with females being given even number seats and males allocated odd numbers in an effort to bring people together! Glad I found this out in advance and avoided! When being told about this was the first time I heard ‘Oh my Lady Gaga!’ instead of ‘Oh my God!’
So much I want to share, more coming soon!
So the past three weeks have been beyond crazy. Today and tomorrow I’ll be posting up all the highlights since my absence, the good and the not so good!
At work I’ve been refining the masterplan to prepare for a presentation, this included managing a team of 6 people to prepare diagrams, complete case studies and a detailed 3D model of the masterplan for renders and a video. The aim is to finish up the most important central core of the masterplan and then leave my trusty colleague in charge as I finish up my internship.
Just another day in the office.
In amongst everything else, I have also been going to language lessons 2 evenings a week for a 2 hour lesson where our teacher has been racing through the basics. It has been great as I have been practicing all week and engaging in many conversations with my Chinese locals, buying things at the shops, ordering at the restaurant, navigating a taxi driver back home and telling a curious waiter where I was from (he didn’t believe I was from Britain!)
The Hutong School.
I was tricked into karaoke, favourite pastime for the locals here – not my favourite – but still ended up being good fun – sang my heart out to black eyed peas in a private room infront of all my colleagues! The event was in aid of another intern and GSA graduate’s birthday. His birthday cake was more like the size of a wedding cake and ended up on his face – something to my surprise is not uncommon here!
Picture?? Errrrm no!
Beijing authorities switched the heating on a few weeks ago – a moment that I had been eagerly anticipating as the temperature was quickly dropping.
Hats and gloves are out now!
More coming tomorrow…