The International Writers
Living in China
watched the rugby on Saturday night this weekend, it was Scotland
versus Ireland and I drank too much as usual. I had to nip out
of my 9 o'clock class the next day a few times to vomit in the
bathroom. Though what do you expect when you have a class
at 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning.
We watched the game in a bar called 'The Den' which is always full
of foreigners and hookers who I now know charge 1000 rmb a night
(about 60 pounds). I spoke to one later on when I was drunk.
I met up with my friends, one English guy,a Scot and my new Canadian flatmate.
We settled into our usual place, at the corner of the bar, which to be
frank is a shit place to watch the games from, because you can't see the
screens properly, but it's always empty and it's sort of our home now,
the waitress even remembered us from last time.
Just beside us there was a girl sitting slumped at the bar who I assumed
was a pro initially, because she seemed to be on her own and the
place was full of them. In front of her sat a full bottle of absolut vodka
which she proceeded to drink with a grim determination, very unusual
behaviour for a chinese girl. She looked like those middle-aged
alcoholics you see slumped over bars back home, but she was young,
maybe only 25. After I'd had a few drinks and was feeling gregarious
I started talking to her, she was an art student from Beijing. She was
pretty, but not beautiful, and she sat hunched which made her
less attractive, her head buried in her big fluffy collar. She said she
drank to be able to get a good sleep and I wondered what personal
tragedy, heartache or sadness was making her drink so much. She wore an
engagement ring she told me, so as to prevent guys trying to pick her
up. She swung an arm drunkenly in the direction of the bar man saying
she was a regular here and they all knew her, this made me suspect she
was a hooker even more but there was something about her that told me
she wasn't, she didn't have the focus or alertness that hookers have,
the feline-like awareness as they scan the bar for the vulnerable and
lonely. This girl just wanted to get drunk, and be left alone, to dive
into oblivion and forget the world for a few hours. I wanted to know why,
I wanted to know her story, maybe even in the back of my mind I wanted
to help her.
I watched the game with my mates and we talked and joked, and everytime
Ilooked over she was slumped motionless at the bar. Someone had placed
a shot, a baby guinness, by her left shoulder, a pitiful gesture, which
had remained untouched. She briefly looked up and asked me who had
bought her it, with a look of irritation and confusion on her face, angry
that her brief moment of peace had been disturbed.
Maybe it had been bought by one of the Irish fans as a sort of mini celebration
of Irelands victory, a nationalistic gesture in the form of a drink. Or
maybe it was the old man to her left who hung at her side hopefully, thinking
maybe she could help him bury his own misery.
Scotland lost, though it was a closer match than had been expected. I
didn't really mind too much, Scotland lose more than they win nowadays
anyway. We left the bar and I wandered home with my friend and we talked
in that drunken way you do. It had been a good night, but not a happy
night. I wondered what happened to that girl. I wonder if anyone was low
enough to pick her up and take her home, probably. One thing I know for
sure, she'll feel have felt a hell of a lot worse in the morning
in every way.
© Paul Haire March 12 2007
4 Gongtidong Road Chao Yang District Beijing,
Telephone: +86 (0)10 6592 6290 Hours:Sun-Thu 10.30am-3am; Fri-Sat 10:30am-6am
a Chinese sauna
One of my students who I teach English to recently invited me to a
sauna to see a show and have dinner. I was slightly apprehensive
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