When I lived in the Bay Area (post-college) I was friends with Debbie Chan, a Chinese woman from Sacramento, who was an early “foodie” – and a well-informed woman who taught me the art of being Chinese.
One day Debbie asked if I wanted to have dinner with her after she looked at an antique chest available for sale in San Francisco. Sure, why not – dinner with Debbie was always a culinary experience, and I salivated at the thought of a good San Francisco meal. We drove across the bridge, arriving at the Chinese seller’s home at 6:00 – and I sat comfortably with my friend while they chatted…and enjoyed tea…and chatted…and enjoyed more tea…and chatted…and…
What the heck was going on anyway? They didn’t even discuss the antique chest, and even when we FINALLY left (I checked my watch it was 2.75 hours later) the seller said he would be in touch.
I later learned I observed that evening, the fine art of doing business Chinese style. The Chinese do not simply conduct business in 20 minutes thank you, good-bye.
There is tea and pastries, inquiries about life, questions about the weather, about what one does for a living…and on and on. And in this process both seller and buyer get to know each other. They learn who is trustworthy, who will be a good owner, who is patient, and whether or not there will be a sale.
So, at the end of our China excursion this summer, tai chi sifu Jianmei Hu set up a meeting for me in Hangzhou with an esteemed feng shui master. She tried to set up an appointment for weeks before our tour, but because of his busy schedule she did not receive confirmation until literally hours before the meeting. A friend of hers picked me up from our hotel, and we went to the feng shui master’s office. The master did not speak English, so the friend brought her son, a journalist in Shanghai, to translate.
In the room was feng shui Master Wang, a tea maker who made tea with special vessels & who served us tea, the translator, the friend who drove me, and two other clients. So we sat for the first 2 hours, drinking tea and we chatted – 7 of us in that room, chatting in Mandarin.
And that day I remembered Debbie Chan’s teachings.
And I recalled Debbie telling me – years later — she made the transaction for the antique chest – a really bargain purchase for her and the seller.
So on this day in Hangzhou I enjoyed feng shui and tea in China.
Next week: What I learned about feng shui that day in Hangzhou…
In gratitude, Janet Mitsui Brown, www.thejoyoffengshui.com
Janet Mitsui Brown
www.thejoyoffengshui.com – blog
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