since he is asking for it.
Xi'an. Where it all begins. Where all roads would lead to if history were written in the East.
We were on our way into the city after seeing the terracotta army. Our guide Echo who would have made an excellent drill inspector has already informed us that this is nap time and she would not like to be disturbed. Bill happily dozes off. I look out of the window. BM starts fidgeting.
"What do you think is considered handsome in this country?"
"Its not a difficult question"
"I know. But why would anyone have such a query?"
"I want to know. My Chinese colleagues at work think someone is handsome, I don't think so"
"Why don't you ask Echo? Obviously I can't provide you with an answer"
"She said she wants to sleep"
"Nonsense. Echo - we..BM has a question for you"
Echo wakes up with a start and turns around. "Sure. How can I help?"
"Do you think Takeshi Kaneshiro is handsome?"
"Dude, he is not even Chinese"
"He is half Chinese" She turns to Echo. "I am trying to figure out who is considered handsome here"
"Yes, he is cute"
"I don't think so. But I am from the South"
"What does that got to do with Takeshi Kaneshiro being handsome?"
"In the South, we prefer milky men"
"Yes, milky intellectuals. In the North, women prefer strong men with moustaches who are generous"
"Generous? You mean rich?" I couldn't help myself.
"Rich too. I prefer milky intellectuals who are rich"
"I haven't found one yet"
"If you do, let us know. We could do with a few"
"What about women? What kind of women are considered beautiful?" BM again. For some reason, she had to analyse this thing to death.
"Hmm..." Echo is thinking now.
"Do you like Gong Li?"
"No" Echo replies immediately.
BM turns to me. "She is like the Aishwarya Rai of China. Everybody casts her in movies but she cannot act"
"Gong Li is just another model / actress. She is okay but not beautiful" says Echo.
"All my colleagues love her"
"Yes, all men love her"
"That makes sense. So what kind of women are preferred in China?"
"Dude, you just asked her that"
"No, I asked who is considered beautiful. Now I am asking what kind of women are generally preferred"
"I wasn't aware you were on a groom hunt"
Echo: "It depends on what the man is looking for"
"Most men prefer stable wives who are kind and considerate and intelligent"
"Who will take care of the house work"
"But if they are looking for a short love story..."
"A short love story?"
"Yes, like in the movies, then they prefer a vase"
"A vase. However you say it"
"Oh, like that"
Needless to say, since then, every time we encounter a vase, we feel like we should take it away and offer it to people looking for a short love story. This special Ming one for Luddo-san, may he have a lovely short love story.
Bonus: One more love story.
At the terracotta place. We were walking from Pit 1 to Pit 2. Echo is telling us about the men excavated from Pit 2. I was walking a few steps ahead of the three and could hear only parts of the conversation.
"The most well preserved exhibit is from this pit. He is exhibited outside the pit in a glass case and you can even see colours on his body"
"Yes, the kneeling archer is quite famous"
I stop dead in my tracks. Turn around. Bill is walking faster. He smiles.
"Kneeling archer. That's what she said"
"Oh. That makes sense"
BM: "What did you hear?"
"Liar. Bill, you tell"
"The love of her life only"
"I thought that was you"
"Eeeks! No way"
"Dude, chill. I heard Newland Archer"
"So I started imagining Daniel Day Lewis with this terracotta warrior headgear"
"Man, that is cool"