An American Abroad

School Dinner & KTV

Shane English Yuxi held a dinner last night to welcome me to the faculty.

We gathered at a large restaurant complex of several stories and many rooms. Remember the Shanghai nightclub scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where Indy is seated at a revolving table? Our room had something like that, only much larger. All thirty of us were seated at a round table, the perimeter of which was fixed and the interior of which revolved. The waitstaff brought out all kinds of dishes and places them on the revolving portion so that different foods were always passing in front of me.
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After the banquet, about half of us went next door to a large karaoke club, known as a KTV. The chief difference between KTV and American karaoke is that KTV is more private. A KTV club has many rooms that are rented out groups of various sizes; you go to a room with your group and you stay there. Perhaps the idea is that this way, you only embarrass yourself in front of your friends, and not in front of strangers.

The entrance resembled a garish hotel lobby. Our group paid to secure a room and went up a flight of stairs into another lobby. There was a bouncer there who was dressed for riot control: steel helmet, olive drab uniform, flak jacket, combat boots. Corridors branched off this lobby, each of which had dozens of doors leading to the private rooms.

Our room had a large U-shaped sofa, two large video monitors surrounded by an ornate gold-colored frame, two small monitors built into the wall behind the sofa, a boomin’ sound system, a touchscreen music selection computer, several wireless mics, a mic on a metal stand, and a private bathroom. A waiter brought in snacks and an alarming number of beer bottles and we were off to the races.
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The female Chinese staff chose syrupy Asian love songs and a depressing number of tunes by Westlife and sung them seriously. The male western faculty chose easily-parodied classic pop oldies and mocked them painfully. I’m not sure which was worse. I’m listening to a rock and blues playlist this morning to wash the aural dirt out of my ears.

I took a taxi home and was proud of myself for being able to give my cab driver directions to my apartment in Chinese. Of course, after the excesses of the evening, it’s quite possible that I only thought I was speaking Chinese.


  1. Lori Seubert says:

    Enjoyable read as always and quite funny!

  2. Great storytelling and fab pictures. Makes me feel as if I am there. Thanks. M

  3. Dan Manheim says:

    Interested in the storm-trooper security guard. Guess karaoke gets pretty intense in China. NB–never heard of Westlife till now either, but as an only mildly ironic Abba fan from way back, I can’t criticize . . .

  4. Mary Cole says:

    Sounds like a great time. Were you able to sing? A cappella? I hope so. If not, next time.

  5. Wei Wang says:

    Funny story as always. 🙂

  6. Wei Wang says:

    Correct my previou spost, It’s an interesting story as always. And I like your funny expression. Is it better English?

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