An overdue ‘hello’ to everyone! I love the humor of Chinese writer 酒小七 Jiu Xiao Qi (fondly known as ‘Seventh Brother’ on the internet) and hope that you will also enjoy her latest novel entitled “The Rice Pot Next Door” as much as I do. This is a modern romance that has no heartbreaking angst, no corporate espionage, no birth secrets… just a sweet story of how one gorgeous associate prof fell in love with one gorgeous car sales woman – or is it the other way around?
The novel has a draggy start, so other than the first 2 chapters below, I’m going to quickly summarize the next few chapters before going into what I feel are the lovely chapters. This will not be word for word translation like Gentleman Free-Floating Cloud and I may not always be able to bring across the jokes (too many phrases that do not have an English equivalent I’m sorry) but I will try my best.
Enjoy the read …. and do pardon my grammar mistakes, if any.
Chapter 1: Chance Meeting
In late spring, the northern sky is a patch of clear blue after being cleansed by a light drizzle.
Lan Shan (蓝衫, literal translation “blue shirt”) is meeting her friend Xiao You Cai (小油菜 literal translation “Little Rapeseed Plant”) to check out the newest exhibition in town. Traffic is bad and Lan Shan is relieved that she has chosen to walk, rather than take a bus or train to the venue when she sees the crawling traffic.
A cab next to her touts its horn and its young driver starts flirting with Lan Shan. She puts him down and threw a pebble at his window when he shows no sign of stopping. Thwarted, the cabbie slinks back to his car while Lan Shan continues her journey with a pretty toss of her head.
Lan Shan is the one who gave Xiao You Cai her nickname because she feels that the latter is too much of a whacko, aka “talent” (有才, pronounced “you cai”, same pronunciation as the rapeseed ). The 2 arrive at “B City Sex Cultural Festival” and despite Lan Shan’s initial reservations in attending an adult exhibition (isn’t it all about XXOO despite its guise as a cultural festival?), she finds that there are indeed many things to see and learn like health tips, advertisements on diet supplements, sex toys, etc.
The exhibition venue is pretty big and is divided into several halls. They reach Hall D which features “Sex Toys”, which is again very big and subdivided into several zones. As they marvel over some of the stuff of display, the 2 can’t help but be amazed at the lack of (lower) boundaries of human creativity. They are not able to recognize some of the stuff but can generally figure out its usage after a vigorous round of brainstorming.
Then they reached the inflatable dolls section.
Lan Shan is surprised to find out that there are non-inflatable dolls in addition to inflatable dolls. Plus, non-inflatable dolls are generally more expensive than their inflatable cousins.
There are also some dolls that look really real. So real in fact, they can pass off as real people. Xiao You Cai points to a doll in a sexy pose at one corner and gushes indignantly: “Lan Shan, look! That doll cost RMB99,800! If someone has that kind of money to burn, why does that person need to buy this?”
As Lan Shan walks over to take a closer look at the doll’s boobs, another doll caught her attention. This doll is sitting on a chair and is dressed in white shirt and brown pants. Its hair is cut very short and framed its face neatly. Its eyelids are lowered as if in thought. The doll looks fantastically real and if not for its blank glaze, she would have thought that this is a real person.
Come to think of it, there is no way a real person would look so pretty. Xiao You Cai has discovered the doll too and she shook Lan Shan’s shoulder vigorously. “It is a man doll! Aw, they actually make man dolls?”
Xiao You Cai drags Lan Shan to the doll which looks even better up close. Its skin is very fair – not a plasticky hue but more like natural beige. Its features are very detailed with a high nose; clear, arched brows; thick, dark lashes. Siting in the dark corner, the doll’s serenity is worthy of a masterpiece that is crafted stroke after meticulous stroke in order to achieve such perfection.
But not matter how good it looks, it is still a fake. Coming back to reality, Lan Shan touches her chin and admires the doll quietly.
Xiao You Cai is confused. “Lan Shan, do you think this is a real man?” Among all the beautiful ‘babes’, why is there suddenly a handsome’ dude’? Or is this meant for the female market? Hmm…
Lan Shan does not know which wire in her brain circuit is crossed wrongly. She reaches out to stroke the doll’s chin and leers. “It looks so pretty, it must be a toy boy!”
Something flickers in the gaze of “toy boy” but the 2 ladies are busy talking and miss the reaction. Curious over the doll’s sexuality, Xiao You Cai touches the front of its pants to see if she can feel anything. Because the shirt was let out instead of tucked in, it is really hard to tell if there is anything underneath with the doll seated down…
Lan Shan fingers the doll’s chin – the texture feels pretty good– and she goes on to stroke its face. “I say Xiao You Cai, technology is really advanced these days. Its face is even warm! Why not you buy one of these and use it to party till dawn? How does that sound?”
Xiao You Cai is still busy with her exploration. “Let me confirm if it has a ‘handle’ first. It will not do to cart a female doll home!”
Lan Shan: “That’s easy. Why don’t you simply take off his pants and check?”
Truth be told, this thought has crossed Xiao You Cai’s mind but it is embarrassing to undress a doll in public. Even a doll should have its pride. Nonetheless, she takes a quick look around and saw that there is no one.
Actually, there are supposed to be some sales assistants. But they have all left to gawk at some starlet who has arrived…
Xiao You Cai is indignant about the lack of professionalism and seriously thought about pulling off the doll’s pants when she suddenly heard a male voice coming from very nearby “How can you do such a thing?!”
Xiao You Cai is very excited! “Lan Shan, look! The doll can talk! Ha, ha, ha! It can actually make sounds!”
Lan Shan is so shocked she cannot reply. Xiao You Cai only heard it “talk” but she can see that the ‘doll’ is moving! and ‘It’ is trying to avoid her touch!
And the eyes! She can suddenly see the life in them. In fact, ‘its’ brows are furrowed and ‘it’ is looking at her with censure. No matter how advance technology is, there is no way it can achieve such a high degree of reality.
What kind of a devil is this…
Said Xiao You Cai: “Lan Shan, I have decided. I shall let you have the honor of removing its pants!”
Lan Shan can only think of running away. But before she can gather her wits, she saw ‘it’, no, it should be ‘he’… trying to stand up. Because of the sudden movement, his chair is being pushed backwards and makes an ominous scratching sound.
His face is black like thunder and Xiao You Cai falls backwards onto the floor in fright.
Helping her to her feet, Lan Shan quickly gushes out an apology. “We are sorry! We are sorry! We are wrong to have interrupted you. Please… continue to shop around. Hee.hee…”
And she drags Xiao You Cai away.
Chapter 2: Revenge
Qiao Feng (乔风, same name as the famous Beggar Sect Leader in Louis Cha’s novel “Demi Gods and Semi Demons”) cannot believe that there are such blatant, female hooligans around who would dare molest a man in broad daylight. In broad daylight at a crowded, international exhibition no less.
He is here for a blind date – some girl dabbling in arts – but she is late due to traffic jam. He remembers feeling bored and has decided to check out the exhibition. As he is walking, his mind wonders to an interesting topic totally unrelated to the topic of the exhibition and he is grateful to find a chair to rest and ponders more on the subject…
And get really lost in thought.
Forgot to mention, Qiao Feng is an associate professor in quantum physics
And next thing he knows, he is being molested by 2 she-wolves attempting to take off his pants. Gathering his wits, he looks around at the dolls surrounding him and figures what she-wolf #1 means when she tells him to continue “shop around” and quickly left the dolls section in embarrassment.
When he finally meets up with his date, they decided to go for lunch and the girl starts to quiz him with the usual questions. What do his parents do for a living? Does he have any siblings? Does he own a car? Does he own his house or is it financed?
Qiao Feng answers honestly and concisely – his parents teaches in high school, he has 1 older brother, he does not owns a car, he stays in a house which has been fully paid off. When she asks more, he answers accordingly – no, his house is not located within the city centre , no, he has no idea how many asset he owns .
The girl thinks to herself that he barely passes all the essentials, but given his outstandingly handsome look… let’s find out more!
As they toured the exhibition, she is pleased to note that his eyes do not linger on the many sexy models or objects on display (Qiao Feng thinks that when a woman is scantily dressed, it is rude to stare). He has really pretty eyes, clear, black iris.. and his glance is very steady. Whenever he looks at her, his intentness makes her feel as if she is soaked in a pool of warm water.
And he listens patiently to her opinion on Foucault, Derrida, etc. Thinking that he may find the subject boring, she smiles at him coquettishly “Do you feel bored when I keep talking about the arts?”
“No. What you said is quite interesting. Do tell me more on what you think about Jean-François Lyotard, Jürgen Habermas, Paul Karl Feyerabend.”
Is this guy really a physics teacher? The girl is no longer so certain about her initial assessment. Qiao Feng changes the topic to cultural revival but something seems to have changed and conversation no longer flows smoothly between them.
Qiao Feng seems quite accustomed to such situations and is not the least bit concerned. They continue to walk he get distracted by some fine porcelain on display, followed some rare ancient paintings.
When they were near the exit, he spotted the 2 she-wolves whacking each other with a giant foam x [note from Moonblossom: I’m going to assume ‘x’ means a giant foam penis here]. Looking at the giant advertising screen above their heads, he took out his phone.
1 minute and 30 seconds later, he checks back at the big screen.
His date asks softly “Why are you ignoring me?”
“Huh? I beg your pardon. What did you say?”
“I said, these girls are so bold!”
“Yes, they are pretty bold.”
The atmosphere in the hall has changed and there seem to be a collected bout of murmurings and pointing fingers. Qiao Feng wastes no time to admire his handiwork and says to his date “Let us go.”
On the big screen, the original advertisement has been replaced with a video clip of 2 ladies engaging in a lewd battle. When Xiao You Cai sees the big screen, she shouts to her friend “Lan Shan! Look! There are 2 whackos fighting on screen!”
When Lan Shan realizes they are the said whackos on the screen, she grabs Xiao You Cai and sprints for the exit. In her haste, she steps on a flyer and fell, landing on her shoulder and spraining her neck in the process. As they continue towards the exit, the 2 attracted many eyeballs with their disheveled looks.
When they manage to flag a cab, the driver sees Lan Shan clutching her neck and asks if she is ok?
Xiao You Cai: “Gosh, I rather not bring it up! Mr Driver, can you help to send us to the hospital please?”
The driver agreed and as they meandered through the heavy traffic, Xiao You Cai notices their driver’s strange pallor.
Xiao You Cai: “Mr Driver, you seem to have a dark shadow on your forehead*. It seems to be turning …green?” So green, in fact, that she believes it is going to start sprouting leaves soon.
“Miss has no need to worry. I am not being harassed by ghosts, just a jinx. I met a pretty girl this morning and when I tried to chat with her, who would guess that the gal has a fierce temper and even threw a rock at me.”
“Wow, that must be some gal!”
“It is not a big deal actually, except for the bruise. But it did affect my business and several potential customers change their mind about boarding my cab when they see my forehead.”
Xiao You Cai is tickled pink at the way he recounts his tale and the driver continues to say that if that girl dares board his cab, he will drive her to the deserted outskirts, drop her off, and let her walk back to civilization.
“Aw…What if she meets a bad guy?”
“No worries, I’ll follow her discreetly from behind.”
And the 2 broke into laughter.
And Lan Shan pulls more hair over her face and sinks deeper into her seat.
*usually used to describe someone who is being harassed by a spirit or ghost