Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A couple of "FIRSTS"

Well, we are staying busy in the last couple of weeks here in Shanghai. In a matter of two days, there have been a couple of "firsts" for us.

Yesterday, my Swiss friend and I learned how to play Mahjong. How fun! We had two experienced players who were kind enough to sit down with us and play - slowly - until we picked it up. Both, my friend and I, have been wanting to learn how to play for TWO years...at least! For the chinese, they learn how to play growing up, watching their elders play. For us westerners, finding an experienced teacher to "put up" with playing so slowly is hard to find. So, we count ourselves very fortunate that something was arranged before we left China for good.

Mahjong is the grease in chinese recreation...it keeps life interesting and fun for many of them. I can see why...it's addicting! It was a lot of fun and the game reminds me something of the card game, Rummy. Of course, Mahjong is a SERIOUS "business" over here. However, the regular stores don't sell Mahjong sets because it can be viewed as a gambling game and the retail stores aren't allowed to sell it, since gambling is officially illegal. However, EVERYONE along the entire asian seaboard plays Mahjong. They have several different types of sets and tables to facilitate a person's Mahjong needs. Usually when you see tables in China, they are either round or square, so that Mahjong can be played with family and friends during any kind of get-together. They have travelling Mahjong sets, for the Mahjong mobile person. They have different sizes, from the box it comes in to the size of the tiles. I have learned that the most expensive Mahjong sets are made out of bamboo because the bamboo "tokens" or tiles have to be made by hand. The other sets are anything from ivory to plastic...and all done by machine.

I'm so happy to have learned the game from someone who plays regularly. There are many rules and even pronunciations that a person like me need help with throughout the game. If I had to have read any type of booklet of instructions, I never would have taken the time to learn...it can be confusing!

Another first in the family is Brandon! He can now ride a TWO wheel bicycle on his own...no more training wheels! Of course, he's still a bit wobbly...but he learned how do it in one afternoon and now feels very proud of himself that he can race with his more experienced friend. He has a competitive nature, so the fact that his friend (and little sister) could ride without training wheels, got him thirsty to master it himself. I'm very proud of him.

Both Brandon and myself wish his Dad could have been the one to push him down the lane. He kept asking me to tell his dad about each step he accomplished throughout the afternoon. It was a "first" Allen would have liked to have been here for as well...I imagine.

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