China Sketches: BBQ

One of those old guys, hands clasped behind back, pausing every second step to see if there was something to stick his nose into. The way he dressed, grey slacks, polyester polo shirt with sleeveless pullover on top, didn’t indicate money, time abroad, or working in a big company. He had an educated air though. Perhaps he was a retired professor. I was eating lamb skewers at a street BBQ. I  knew he’d want to question me. If he’d been a college student I’d have told him to buzz off, but I couldn’t do that to an old gent. Back in the sixties, he’d probably been stuck in Manchuria, clutching an antique rifle, waiting for the Russians to invade, his prize possession an English dictionary which he rigorously studied….or some such amazing tale. Sure enough, the old guy spotted me. He ambled over to my table and stood over me, making me hesitant to stuff my mouth with more BBQed meat. I could see by the brown spots on his face that he was positively ancient, but the old bastard probably had lower blood pressure than I did. He pointed a creaky finger and demanded, Enjoying that meat?

Yes, it’s great.

Where are you from? I must say his English did sound good.

New Zealand.

Ah, and how is it there?

Well you know a lot of space, a lot of sheep, big houses, we drive on the left, unemployment has been high lately but I’m sure it’ll come right.

No, no…I’m asking you how is the meat there?

The author in his younger days making friends with a street cleaner while waiting to eat BBQ skewers (see pictures above and below). This gentleman in blue was most unlike the character described in the story. My big head fails to fit in the frame.
Closer view of the BBQ.

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