Sunday, August 04, 2013

22 and Chinese

So last week it was The Chen's birthday, on the 22nd July she turned the tender age of 22. Being merely an infant in the adult world I often observe in her, with awe and adoration, maturity far beyond her years, something which at 22 I did not possess.

Even as a modern day man I have to say that I regularly display traits associated with neanderthals. One issue I perpetually face is 'the struggle' in identifying what gifts to buy for women on those gift giving special occasions, especially for one as multifarious as my Chen. This year I resolved to venture out of my immediate comfort zone of the usual suspects; flowers, chocolates and scented accessories and decided to buy her a clothes, dresses to be precise. I did not venture into this battle with insufficient ammunition, I sourced some vital information from a close friend of hers and with this firepower I was confident the gifts would be a stunning success and that I would be revered as the worlds best boyfriend, even if only for a day. She has a very esoteric taste in fashion, one day opting for the web based indie designer nobody knows and the next opting for your high street favourite.

Do you think she loved them? Well yes and no, out of five dresses she liked two. Her favourite birthday gift was a second-hand handbag, a metallic baguette bag finished in brushed aluminum.

As part of her birthday celebrations she asked me if she could hold a gathering at my place with a few of her close friends. Having not hosted a party for a while me and my roommates were overflowing with enthusiasm to anchor an alcohol fueled festivity in our little apartment.

Happy Birthday Huangyi!

I invited Enrique and Orlando (my roommates), Claudio and his wonderful fiance Grace. Enrique invited his colleague Joe, who is as English as they come, on the premise that there would be young single girls aplenty. Joe is struggling to find a girlfriend here and Enrique is pretty good at playing cupid.

The party at its crest consisted of approximately 20 people, rather a small party but our house parties now centre on quality rather than quantity. After bulging parties where douche bags prevail we're now fastidious on quality these days. The birthday bash was as cosmopolitan as they come, as most parties in Singapore are, with guests stemming from Mexico, England, China, South Africa, Italy, Malaysia, The US, Singapore Australia and even as far wind as Belarus. It was a rainbow of culture.

Each person was asked to bring drinks and snacks, with the majority being of internship age little was expected but much was delivered. From half full bottles of Jim Beam and Honey and lukewarm cans of Carlsberg to 2004 vintages of Moet Chandon and 18 years old Single Malt, the bottle drop was a massive success. Covering all eventualities by working for the Big D, myself and Claudio ensured the party would be a success with colossal amounts of Scotch.

The Johnnie Walker Ensemble from a blurry 50mm.

The party started off slow. The Facebook event stipulating the party commenced at 8pm, the guests, naturally not wanting to lock socially inept started arriving around 9pm. By 10.30pm the party was in full swing, pockets of people deep in alcohol fueled conversation saturated every corner of the apartment, a daft punk soundtrack filled the gaps of speech. The black IKEA table at the centre of the apartment was over encumbered with white plastic bowls full of potato chips and bottles of half filled liquor. The smokers detached themselves to the balcony, leaving the doors to outside slightly ajar the smell of Marlboro lights bit into the air conditioned solace of the apartment.

The Mexican having fun at the over encumbered table

It was a really (really) fantastic little party, there was just a beautiful vibe to it, an exemplary portrayal of humanity. I danced through the pockets of people as I tried to mingle with everyone and take a bite of each conversation. I spent a lot of my time just people watching; the sofa seemed to attract the girls, sitting in batches of 2 to 5 having jovial conversations with smiles always painted across their faces. The balcony, the home of the smokers, was where the drunken D&M's (deep and meaningful conversation) were happening. Topics from the strength of each others currency to the political dominance of Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen were discussed with passion. The black IKEA table was where the most mingling was happening, maybe because the chips and the liquor were stationed there, a plethora of conversations filled the air. The kitchen, with the lights off, was home to the lovers. I took The Chen into the kitchen for a bit of a kiss and cuddle at the start of the party but the main tenant was Joe and his new found attraction, no names I promise.

By around 2am the party was almost extinguished, some key players responsible for fueling the party had left and we were at risk of a premature end. I decided to make a drastic decision, I added logs to the fire, I unleashed the Baijiu.

Chinese White Spirits (Baijiu) from the Shui Jing Fang distillery in Chengdu.
62% ABV devastation.

A quick Wikipedia lesson...

Baijiu is a Chinese distilled alcoholic beverage. The name baijiu literally means "white liquor", "white alcohol" or "white spirits". Baijiu is often translated as "wine" or "white wine". However, it is actually a distilled liquor, generally about 40–60% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Baijiu is a clear drink usually distilled from sorghum, although sometimes other grains may be used; baijiu

Because of its clarity, baijiu can appear similar to several other liquors, but generally has a significantly higher ABV than, for example, Japanese shōchū (25%) or Korean soju (20–45%).

The last sentence is the most important. This stuff is rocket fuel and not to be taken lightly. 62% ABV. One caveat however is the taste, as you can probably imagine it's not going to taste like strawberries however you also probably underestimate how bad it tastes. It tastes like liquid trash which makes it very difficult to hold down after taking a shot. The good news is that nobody vomited and twenty minutes after the Baijiu came out to play the party picked up. The Chinese liquor acted as liquid fuel for the guests, sustaining them until the sun came up.

The following day I sat with Enrique on the sofa, smiles across our faced, a beer in hand to nurse the hangover and we cogitated about the success of the party while basking in the afterglow one gets after hosting such an awesome evening such as that.

Thank you very much to everyone who came, thank you for taking care of our apartment - only two glasses smashed. One final note; Chen, I hope you had a wonderful birthday my dear I promise I'll get better at the gifting agenda for next year, I love you very much.