Gingko gold

gingko, Lambton Quay (05 June 2015)

gingko, Lambton Quay (05 June 2015)

After a simple lunch of donburi chicken from Wasabi Sushi in the James Cook Arcade, I returned to Lambton Quay and found myself standing under a canopy of gingko gold.

The photograph below – taken a little further down the street – is exactly thirteen months old. Click on it for a look at the piece I posted on 08 May 2014.

autumn reflection (05 May 2014)

autumn reflection (05 May 2014)

Chinese arithmetic: not that hard, really

Chinese abacus

Chinese abacus

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At BB’s Orient Express, the Chinese restaurant at which I enjoy a smorgasbord-style lunch once or twice each week, the ladle-wielding owner/manager cannot count.

No, that’s not strictly true. I ask for a three-choice meal, and she always adds something extra to my plate – a fried wonton, an extra dumpling, a morsel or two of crunchy-battered fish (so melt-in-the-mouth tender) …

There’s no charge for a cup of Chinese tea – or for the little bowl of chicken and sweetcorn soup that often gets added to my tray.

Occasionally, when she’s been busy and someone else serves me, she brings soup to my table as I’m preparing to leave.

A couple of times, she has brought a little white paper bag to the table, and she squeezes my shoulder as I peek inside.

Today, it was after two o’clock when I arrived. Most of the regulars had gone back to their offices and meeting-rooms. I placed my order, handed over my Eftpos card, then reached for a pair of chopsticks. When my plate arrived, there were six dumplings instead of the standard-issue four, and, perched atop the heaped plate, a succulent spring roll with a tender, crunchy wrapping. And soup, of course.

Chinese arithmetic can be very persuasive. In the long run, all my return visits add up.

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Chinese arithmetic has a reputation for being difficult for western minds to comprehend – hence the phrase, “Hard as Chinese arithmetic.” The Urban Dictionary explains what the phrase has come to mean, but that is another (tangential) story.

Pool

pool #159 (08 August 2013)

pool #159 (08 August 2013)

August: third month of winter, mild,
wild wind, high cloud, soft light, drizzle.
Looking for a sheltered spot.

Perching on the edge of a pool
between library and art gallery,
I eat lunch and feed the sparrows.

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This image is one of a series. View all five here.

On New Year’s Eve

In 2011, Ouyang Yu, from Victoria (Australia), won the Community Relations Commission’s award for his book The English Class. Picture: Adam Elwood.

Ouyang Yu reminds me, as I read,
of my lunch today
at a familiar Chinese restaurant.
In my mind’s ear
there are fragments of voices – familiar
sounds, yet incomprehensible –
the laugh-laced talk
of three young Chinese men
sitting down to eat
where usually they serve.
Today they are not in uniform: it is
holiday time, and they are relaxing.
I look across the room at them,
smiling and waving; they respond
with grins and greetings.
As I am getting up from my meal,
the boss crosses the floor
and we shake hands.
“Happy New Year,” we say.
“See you next year.”

(31 December 2012; amended 02 January 2013)

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Ouyang Yu (born 1955) is a contemporary Chinese-Australian author, translator and academic.

Ouyang Yu was born in the People’s Republic of China, arriving in Australia in 1991 to study for a Ph. D. at La Trobe University which he completed in 1995. Since then his literary output has been prodigious. Apart from several collections of poetry and a novel he has translated authors as diverse as Christina Stead, Xavier Herbert, Germaine Greer and David Malouf among others. He also edits Otherland, which is a bilingual English-Chinese literary journal. (Wikipedia)

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Ouyang Yu. 2012. Loose : A wild history. Adelaide, SA: Wakefield Press.

“The novel combines fiction with non-fiction, poetry with literary criticism, diary with life writing, with multiple stories weaving in between, told from different points of view by different characters.” (Wakefield Press)