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avant-garde_chauvintist wandering through the garden of ideals

Fighting the landlord

CHINA | Saturday, 9 February 2008 | Views [931]

One of the nights we spent with You, we were debating about watching a movie or doing something with the potential of being equally unfulfilling when we discovered we had cards.

There is a phenomenon in China of playing cards in the streets and leaving them there. In every single city I've visited, I witnessed men and women playing cards in tiny stools in the middle of the sidewalks. I always wondered about this game since it draws quite a crowd. My students attempted to explain it to me once, but got lost in the complicated details and varying levels of English.

You decided to teach us. It's call "Fight the Landlord". I forget the Chinese pronunciation. And it's too complicated for a visual mind to write out. It's fun, but needs a kick. The kick is generally money. We had very little of this.

We learned the game. It would (and eventually did) make a nice drinking game, but, like money, liquor was in short supply. After all the details were safetly understood, we started playing for real. This involved round after round of playing with no consequence for losing.

You had enough.

"We have to play for something or the game is silly," she proclaimed. "I know! We'll bet water!"

"Water?!" three shocked Americans responded. "You can't be serious!"

But she was already in the kitchen filling a pitcher and gathering cups.

We played for water. About three rounds into this nonsense, You said self righteously, "You thought it was silly, but it's hard, isn't it?"

Apparently she had done this before. Drinking glasses of water one after the other was no easier than downing shots. And with water, one is expected to drink more than the standard ounce of liquid.

I kept losing, and my stomach was sloshing, AND I had to pee. The game is a three person one, so around this time You decided she wanted in. I made a hasty exit to the bathroom, while she started downing shots of water.

Humorous? Uh huh. Ridiculous? You bet. Unforgetable? Without a doubt.

She told us a joke about this game. Because literally everyone in China plays it. It's a bit trite, but I'll relay it to you.

Chairman Mao woke up from the dead. He inquired about the state of the Chinese people. Someone nearby responded, "They're all fighting the landlords."

He died again, happily.

(The picture is of our wonderful host.)

Tags: On the Road

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