Posted by: lklinger2013 | July 2, 2016

Why are You alone?: Furong Jie and the Temple of Confucius

Last weekend, I checked out Furong Jie (Water Lily Street) a traditional shopping street across from Parc 66 (a big shopping center in downtown Jinan). It is a loud, crowded gauntlet of shops and food stands, mostly selling fried squid, colorful drinks, and souvenirs. I bought a lemonade with basil seeds from a vampire-themed drink stand. Not bad. The seeds, black dots coated in clear jelly, looked like frog eggs. (Incidentally, those tapioca pearls in bubble tea were called “frog eggs” when they first became popular in Taiwan, but got rebranded when they came to English-speaking countries.)

I photographed wall murals and stone lions and bought traditional snacks. I tried not to breathe too deeply while walking past all the cooking squid.

Halfway down the street lies a small temple to Guandi, a mortal (Guan Yu) who, after his death, became a war god. I ducked inside for a few minutes. Not much was going on. A couple of people were looking around and taking photos. Incense burned in front of the statue of Guandi himself.

At the very end of Furong Jie is Fuxue Confucian temple. The latter is a refuge of quiet in a noisy, crowded city. It costs 10 RMB to visit. Unlike at Buddhist temples, I saw nobody kneeling or praying. Instead of gilded Buddhas and Bodhisatvas, there were colorfully painted wooden statues of Confucian scholars. When I described the place to students, they told me that it had been a place to study Confucianism.

Near the temple is a drink place with seats. I had an icy mango-coconut concoction that was perfect for a hot day. The woman working the counter (I think her family owns the place) asked to practice her English with me. She said her English name was Gromit (from the stop-motion animated show). When her husband Louis stopped by, she asked whether I thought he looked like Wallace. No, he had hair. And average-sized ears.

Gromit asked why I was alone*. I had no good answer. I looked up the word “introvert” on the English-Chinese dictionary app. She protested that I seemed friendly and was still a human being. Yes, I’m a human being but apparently not the kind that other human beings care to associate with. Yes, there are lots of other foreign teachers at my school, but not one has accepted my invitations to go with me when I explore the city.  Because reasons. They’re busy or tired or broke. They all live in faculty housing and I don’t. They’d rather watch TV. They prefer to go out drinking. They’re cool and I’m not. I admit it: the loneliness is getting to me.

Gromit and I exchanged WeChat info but that probably means nothing. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so.

 

*Readers, this is NOT an invitation to comment with “the reason nobody likes you.” I’ve had enough of those little speeches from so-called friends to last a lifetime.20160625_165913.jpg20160625_18255220160625_18261720160625_18314120160625_18385420160626_15030220160626_15124220160626_15263020160626_15313920160626_162247

 

 

 


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