Friday, June 10, 2011

Sophia’s Bar and Grill

Off I go to Metro again, that fabled store of foreigner goods. This time I have Shelin and Zhanni in tow. They are both curious about what a ‘foreigner store’ might look like and what one might find there.

Originally Zhanni, Dash and I were going to head out together. You’ll remember Dash as another of the Cookie Cutter Girls. She and Zhanni are virtually inseparable: they room together, have all their classes together, text and phone each other constantly. However, Dash is much more active in campus activities so that makes her unavailable sometimes, especially now as the school year winds down and so many activities need coordinating and planning. Zhanni and I usually attend the activities Dash helps behind the scenes with, and our contact with her is limited to waves and smiles across the auditoriums. The three of us do get together and play badminton quite a bit, though.

I’m going to have to write about Dash soon. She is phenomenal. You’ll have to wait for the Dash entry to find out more about her.

Let’s talk about Shelin for a second, though, before we take off for Metro.

Remember Shelin? I helped tutor her to success for her IELTS test (see Shelin Passed entry). She had been silent for a long time after that fabulous dinner we enjoyed together with her parents. I put that down to the fact that she’s a young lady with dreams to pursue and a boyfriend to cling to, to say nothing of good parents that help form her security network. My feelings weren’t in any way hurt by her neglect of me; we had a piece of business to take care of together and that was the extent of our relationship.

Imagine my surprise when she turned up again! Skinny as ever and gracious as a cat, there she was on my doorstep, smiling and beaming on that sunny day. She wanted to let me know in person that she had been accepted to a university in England and she would be headed abroad soon. I threw my arms around her – gently, because she’s so dang fragile she just might break. I’m so proud of Shelin! We spent some time on the Internet so she could show me all about her college.

I did tell her that I was waiting for Zhanni. Our plan was to go to the ‘foreigner store’ and then have a bite to eat on the town. Unperturbed, Shelin invited herself along. I didn’t have the first problem with that; I’ve learned that, the more traveling companions I have the merrier outings become. Besides, that would give Shelin and Zhanni a chance to become friends, too.

OK, NOW we can go to Metro. Both girls were surprised at what a relatively short bus ride it is. Soon we were walking through the widely spaced aisles of that mysterious, mythical store that they had both heard of but had never been to. The first thing I noticed is that Metro has a stock of summer inventory, to include grills. Charcoal, electric and gas grills fill the seasonal shelves at the front of the store that were so recently filled with Christmas merchandise.

Oh, really? Grills? Hmmm… let’s just think about this, now. Summer is here. Grilling is what one does in the summer. Grills are available for purchase. Ergo, I must purchase a grill.

Which grill? That is the question. I could charcoal grill on my patio thereby creating tantalizing smells to rival the street vendors’, or I could purchase an electric grill for indoor use, that came with a pan so that I might also use it to fry bacon and eggs for breakfast.

I opted for a small electric grill, which now obsequiously resides on my countertop. Its green makes a lovely contrast to the deep red of my electronic hotplate, and matches my refrigerator. It is not a big grill, but it is big enough for me to cook a meal on for myself and maybe one dinner companion or two. I love my grill.

I did not buy it on the day Shelin and Zhanni were with me. I figured we were going out to eat after our adventures at the foreigner store and I didn’t want to have to lug it around town. Besides, Zhanni would never have let me carry it; she would have done all the lugging. So, it is fair to say that I did not want to burden Zhanni with a grill during our outing.

Oh, yeah! Our outing! Zhanni and Shelin were duly impressed with the foreigner store. Zhanni liked the huge meat cleaver that she could barely pick up; several times she returned to it and hefted it. Sometimes, she scares me with her love of potential violence. Her favorite exclamation, uttered with a broad smile on her face, is: “Do you want to die?” said in either Chinese or in English. Like she could hurt anybody, small as she is. Needless to say, this is all in jest but… Why did she like that meat cleaver so much?

And why were the girls surprised when I flipped over finding aluminum foil? If I’m going to own a grill, I have to have aluminum foil and there it was, tucked in with other paper goods and baggies. I flipped because I did not expect to find aluminum foil but, as with so many times before, Metro surpassed my wildest dreams. I bought two rolls on the same day that I became a proud grill owner.

Zhanni and Shelin are certainly charming and cute. But by far the cutest anecdote relating to my grill is this picture of Martin and Stephanie. They had come by just as I was getting ready to grill some chicken. They had never seen a grill before, and spent several minutes just staring at it and commenting. You can see by the smile on their faces that they thought sliced bread was nothing compared to this innovation. My guess is that, when they finally get their own homes, each will own a grill.

Zhanni, Dash, Shelin, Martin, Stephanie…Aren’t they precious?

About the ‘Bar’ part of the title to this entry. Victor came by last night, after wrapping up a joint end of year party we hosted for our students. I served him some wine that I had had in the fridge for about a month. The bottle had been given to me by a dinner guest. That was all the booze I had in the house because I’m just not much of a drinker. I guess I’m not much of a bar-keep, either!

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