Rice Pot Next Door: Chapters 35 & 36

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Chapter 35: Confused

When Lan Shan gets home that night, she finds to her dismay that she is starting her period as Qiao Feng has predicted. Besides being embarrassed that a man can be so accurate on something this personal, she also wonders if her earlier breakdown can be due to hormonal changes? If so, it would seems that science can be more amazing than magic.

The next day, there is a bowl of red dates porridge on the dinner table which is known to help a person recover from blood loss. Of course, Lan Shan has not mentioned anything about her period to Qiao Feng, but he has cooked the porridge having firmly believed in his earlier diagnosis. Lan Shan realized that although Qiao Feng looks mild-mannered, he is unusually stubborn. Once he has set his mind on something, there will be no turning back even if someone uses nine ox to pull him back. That is assuming of course that there is someone stupid enough to try, to which Qiao Feng would probably nag, nag, and nag the unfortunate brook death.

So she says nothing and simply enjoys her red-date porridge.

Qiao Feng looks at her expectantly. “How is it? This is my first time cooking this dish.”

His porridge has just the right degree of fragrance, sweetness, softness, viscosity and feels wonderful in her tummy. “It tastes wonderful!” After savoring several bites of the delicious broth, her licks her lips unconsciously. When she raises her eyes from her food, she sees that he is staring at her and she points to his full plate. “What has come over you? Come and eat.”

Qiao Feng jerks out from his reverie and starts to eat.

Teasing him, Lan Shan asks playfully. “Say, do you think I’m like a delectable meal?”

Qiao Feng does not reply and continues eating. Giving up, Lan Shan turns her attention back to her food. From the corner of her eye, she sees a black and white blur zooming across the room and is about to reach her feet. She jerks her feet up “Oh my god, what is this?”

“Fear not, it is just Schrödinger.”

Huh? Since when has Schrodinger changed? She bends down to peer at Schrödinger curiously and the cat chooses that moment to lift his head so that she can see that he is wearing a panda costume with a large black and white hood that nearly covers all his face, including his eyes. He bends his head down and meows in annoyance.

Cat in-panda-costume 2“Why do you dress him in a panda suit?”

“I thought that you will like it.”

Lan Shan understands in that moment that he has did it in order to cheer her up. A sweet fullness well up in her chest as she eats her red dates porridge and looks at Panda- Schrödinger. “Little Feng Feng, I get the feeling that you are going to replace Xiao You Cai in my heart in the very near future.”

To which Qiao Feng concludes on her character – this is a lecherous woman who places sex over friendship.

Something niggles at Lan Shan and she asks a question that has been bothering her for a while. “Qiao Feng, how is your relationship with your brother?”

“We are quite close.”

“If so, why doesn’t he come here and…. play?”

The question feels all sorts of weird but Qiao Feng answers her matter-of-fact. “He usually comes on weekends. You are usually not around on weekends which is why you seldom saw him.”

That leaves Lan Shan with more questions, but it is not appropriate to ask him at this moment so she left the subject as it is.

* * * * * *

After giving the matter serious thought, Lan Shan feels that it is not appropriate for a female subordinate to buy her male boss clothes, so she decides to buy Song Zi Cheng an ashtray instead. The ashtray is made of solid black material with gold lining and some diamonds – fake ones of course – at the side. Even if he chooses not to use it as an ashtray, ornate bowl is also quite suitable as a decorative.

Song Zi Cheng did not come to the 4S shop these few days so Lan Shan calls him to invite him out for dinner and during the meal, she presents the ashtray to him Song Zi Cheng is very happy with his gift. Actually, it does not matter what she gives him; he is happy as this is the first time she is giving him a present.

After they had dinner, they left the restaurant. The city is bustling with people and traffic and Lan Shan pats her tummy as she lifts her head to the sky. Being in the city, one can never see many stars. This is unlike her hometown where one can nearly see the whole milky way as they blanket the earth like scores of diamonds by this time of the year. If one is feeling weary or vexed, all one needs to do is to simply lie on the ground and let the starry sky suck all the woes away. Lan Shan is a little pensive; is she missing the stars or is she missing home?

She is surprised when Song Zi Cheng asks if she is missing the stars. Song Zi Cheng smiles – when a girl looks upwards at the heavens, she is probably looking for stars, else what else can she be looking for. Planes? When he smiles, he does not resemble his usual, aloof self and his eyes are like dancing. Now that, she thinks, is quite like the stars in a night sky.

Song Zi Cheng: “You will not be able to see any stars here. If you wish to see stars, we can go to Mi Yun.”

His “we” implies a certain degree of intimacy and Song Zi Cheng is quick to prevent her defensive walls from erecting at this casual mention. In his experience, there are 2 types of beautiful woman. One is the extremely vulnerable kind; so long as you are a man, she will take you to bed. The other type, like Lan Shan, is the extremely weary type against anyone who tries to approach her, so he quickly adds. “It is a pity the weather is not suitable for star gazing tonight.”

Lan Shan nods and thinks to herself that she is going to bring Little Feng Feng to see stars at Mi Yun.

* * * * * *

The next day, Song Zi Cheng places his ashtray in his office. Although his parents are rich, he is not the idle type and has chosen to start his own business and make it successful from his own efforts. However, no one in his family seems to care for whether his business be successful or not, he will have to return to take over the family business one day.

The truly idle one is Tan Zi. He is not a bright bulb and tends to make more blunders than help so his family has only one hope for him – stay out and be idle. He likes to visit Brother Cheng’s office and when he is here today, he spots a glittery, new ashtray. The dish is rather ornate with 3 glittering stones and is totally unlike what Brother Cheng would normally go for. Picking up the clean bowl, he starts to throw it up in the air for fun.

When Song Zi Cheng looks up from his documents, he is furious to see him playing with his ashtray. “Put that down!”

Tan Zi is distracted by his yell and did not catch the ashtray, which lands on his foot. “Awww. This hurts! My toe is broken!”

Song Zi Cheng is more concerned if his ashtray is broken and pays Tan Zi little heed. Tan Zi is confused when Brother Cheng looks at the ashtray like a secret lover and asks. “Brother Cheng, who gave you this ashtray?”

At his silence, he adds. “Don’t tell me it is Blue Beauty.” At Song Zi Cheng continual silence, he exclaims. “Aha! I am right! Have you made progress Brother Cheng?”

Song Zi Cheng places the ashtray near his tea set and shoots him a look. “You, shut up. And don’t touch my ashtray again.”

Tan Zi is very happy at the news – he now has an excuse to ask his goddess out for lunch. He knows jolly well that Su Luo does not like him and that she only tolerates him when he has news for her regarding Song Zi Cheng, but Tan Zi is contented to be a sorry bastard in her case. Who ask him to like her so?

So he spends 20 minutes telling Su Luo a story of how “Lan San has given Brother Song an ashtray” and at the end of the tale, asks. “Luo Luo. What do you think is Lan Shan’s intention in giving Brother Cheng an ashtray?”

Su Luo is looking none too chirpy and replies coolly. “She is hoping that he will think of her whenever he smokes. Seems like she is quite devious.”

Tan Zi suddenly sees the light. “So that is why! I say, it is really difficult to guess a woman’s mind. But looking at these two, they are like the proverbial drum and stick – one beats and the other willingly gets beaten.”

When her face darkens, he trails off. After a while, he gathers his courage and tries again. “Luo Luo, there are many good men around. Why are you so hang up on Brother Cheng?”

Su Luo does not reply but her eyes redden as if she is going to cry any minute. Tan Zi aches to see her so but one thing he likes about her is her steadfastness to love. Even if he is not the one she is steadfast about.

He drives her home after the meal and she posts on her Weibo while in the car: Had I know that the heart would break so, I would rather we not have met.

When she checks her Weibo when she gets home, there is this reply from “Him” whose icon is a cat face: Please work hard to be back with your ex-boyfriend. I know you can do it. images images

Su Luo smiles as her fingers flies across the keyboard: I will take you at your word.whatsapp happy face

 

Chapter 36: Missing Home

Lan Shan has not expected to see Su Luo at the spa. She looks much better than the last time she has seen her and she figures the lady must have sorted out her thoughts (on Song Zi Cheng).

She is happy a beautiful woman like her has finally seen the light and greets her politely. “What a coincidence.”

Suo Luo shakes her head. “It is not a coincidence, I have waited here to see you.”

Lan Shan does not know what she is up to. “If you are thinking of buying a car, you can just call me.”

“I am not thinking of changing my car at the moment; I am here to speak to you.”

Lan Shan is curious what other things they can talk about besides cars but she agrees to meet Su Luo for a talk at a nearby cafe after her massage.

To Lan Shan, Su Luo may not be a bad woman, but she is definitely not an easy customer. She suspects Su Luo may have been spoilt rotten by the men in her life and Lan Shan would rather she keep her distance. Furthermore, since she is not thinking of getting a car from her, Lan Shan sees no reason to humor her beyond what is necessary. When they are seated at the café, Lan Shan speaks her mind. “Ms Su, let us not beat around the bush. Whatever matter that you are looking for me, please speak your mind.”

Su Luo rests elegantly in her chair. She is so easy on the eyes, even the waiter looks twice at her when he serves them their drinks. “I only wish to remind you not to place false hopes on Song Zi Cheng. He is not someone whom you can deal with.”

Before she can talk further, Lan Shan holds out a hand to stop her. “Hello. I think you have misunderstood. Boss Song in my boss. That is all there is.”

“We are both woman, you really should not be so quick to deny.”

Seeing her stubbornness, Lan Shan rubs her temple. “So? The long and short is that you are unable to get over your relationship with our Boss. If so, please chase him back. Why do you bother with me as I have nothing towards my Boss?”

Su Luo continues as if she has not spoken. “There is this woman. She graduated from a second-tier university, traveled North, has no hu kou (local residency rights), and sells cars for a living. Her biggest asset is probably her looks but she is already 28 so how long do you think her beauty is going to last? To such a woman, marriage is probably upmost in her mind and I do not believe you are as relax as you seems to be.”

Before Lan Shan can interject, she continues. “Please believe me, you have chosen the wrong target. Song Zi Cheng is a complex man, and….”

Pang!

Lan Shan finally had enough and slams her hands on the table. At the curious glances shoot their way, Su Lan looks at her reproachfully for her rude behavior while Lan Shan counters. “But Song Zi Cheng is someone who has ditched Su Luo, and if such a beautiful woman like you cannot hold on to him, what are my chances? Have I missed out anything that you with you say? If not, can I leave now?”

Su Luo looks a little helpless. “Whether you believe or not, I am saying this for your own good.”

Lan Shan nods. “I am sure you are. But let me return the favor: there is no big deal being ditched by Song Zi Cheng. I see that you are a big believer in “a woman cannot live without a man” or “a successful marriage is a woman’s greatest triumph” so let me urge you to find a rich man quickly and get married.”

“Oh, and you mentioned that I am 28? Are you not 28 too? Do not bother denying it for I can tell it from your face. Let me also say that you are neither my dad or my mom, and I really do not need your concern.”

At Su Luo’s furious expression, Lan Shan waves cheerfully. “Bye-bye!”

When she is at Qiao Feng’s place that night, Lan Shan has to roll a few times on his prized rug that she loves so much before she can feel better. As she flops on her back and looks at the ceiling, she suddenly realizes why she had been so furious at the café earlier. Although the truth hurts, Su Luo has not misstate the facts.

A migrant worker in a city of 20million is like a speck of sand in the sea. Minute and humble, weak and rootless. She has no relatives here, no house, no car, no boyfriend, and the work she tries so hard to do is looked down upon by a lot of people.  Without an anchor, she is only a homeless spirit. So although she has stayed in this city for 10 years, gotten used to the food, adopted its accent…. at heart, she is only a guest in this city.

Such is the price of leaving home.

While she is lost in thoughts, Qiao Feng comes out from the kitchen with a pretty glass bowl. In it are a bunch of freshly-washed, green seedless grapes each about the size of a finger. He sits down besides her and feeds her one.  Lan Shan opens her mouth, curls her tongue around the fruit and munches automatically. “Hmm, this is so sweet.”

“En.” Qiao Feng nods in agreement and pops one into his mouth, before feeding her another.

“Qiao Feng, I’m really curious. Why is it that everything in your house taste so good? Your rice is superb, your fruits are superb, even a salted duck egg taste superb. Is it because your family house has good fengshui?”

Qiao Feng shakes his head. “No. The reason is because my stuff are all organic food.”

“I don’t believe you. Even the salted duck egg?”

“Yes.”

“I nearly forgot your grandpa probably rears his own ducks and make his own salted duck eggs. But then how about the peach. Or grapes? Or kiwi, or pistachio nuts?”

He nods. “They all are.”

Lan Shan roll her eyes. “Ha! Do you think your grandfather operates QQ farm?”

Qiao Feng shakes his head. “No.”

“Which is why you might as well say that your food are special foodstuff that is offered for tribute. Really, you should have thought of a better excuse even if you are trying to bluff me.”

Qiao Feng opens his mouth as if to say something but he stops when Lan Shan opens her mouth wide for another grape: “Arrrr…”

He pops a grape into her mouth before asking. “What is wrong with you today? You don’t look good when you came back.”

“I have nothing to say besides the fact that I met a lunatic today.” Remembering Su Luo’s words, Lan Shan gets pensive and flips over to her side. “Little Feng Feng, if I go home one day, will you miss me?”

“No.”

Lan Shan is a little disappointed. “I see.”

He adds. “I will see you the next day so it doesn’t matter.”

“You misunderstood me. I am saying if I return to my hometown.”

Qiao Feng stares at her. “You… you are going back? When are you coming back?”

She flops back onto the rug and stares at the ceiling. “If I pack my bags, I may never come back. Maybe when there are special occasions or festivals, I may pop by your place for a a meal or something, ha.ha.”

Qiao Feng is silent for a bit before he frowns. “Why do you want to go back? Isn’t it nice here?”

She sighs. “You don’t understand.” No matter how good this place is, this is not her home. When the spirit is only a guest in another city, the sense of wandering can become pretty unsettling.

Qiao Feng falls silent as he contemplates what she has just said. Both bask in the silence until a loud knock interrupts them. The knocking is not on Qiao Feng’s door and sounds muffled as if it is coming from next door. True enough, someone calls out a few minutes later. “Is Lan Shan at home?”

Lan Shan gets up to get the door and finds a courier man with a document for her, which she signs on before returning to Qiao Feng’s living room. Qiao Feng sees her taking out a red invitation card from the envelope before she gives a cold smile. “My, is today the day where all the lunatics decide to get together for a party?”

line 1 ladybug

Comments by Moonblossom:

First, I am very curious who is the “Him” writing to Su Luo.  Is it a new character? but why do I get the feeling that her friend is Qiao Feng?  Maybe it is the cat face and the way it is written – it reminded me of the way he encouraged Lan Shan to finish his leftover Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish – but if so, it means he knows Su Luo and I don’t like the idea of him being friends with Su Luo.  She is too spoilt!

After this chapter I feel a bit sad for Lan Shan.  The term 北漂 (bei piao) or “floating north” refers to the many migrant workers in Beijing who have moved North to find work.  It is a big social topic in China as it is a source of strain to Beijing resources and the migrants’ welfare can be pretty bleak.  Lan Shan is quite fortunate to have found her niche selling cars but she faces discrimination for her job and is emotionally empty.  I hope Qiao Feng gets a wake-up call that Lan Shan may not remain his neighbour forever.  She is such a natural complement to him, he better buck up to make sure she doesn’t just leave one day when the loneliness overwhelms her.

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31 thoughts on “Rice Pot Next Door: Chapters 35 & 36

  1. Thank you Moonblossom for the latest update. I have been waiting since the last update. 😛

    I can’t wait for the confession chapter to come. Nonetheless, I still need to wait and I thought I thank u first before reading.

    • You are most welcome! I think I will follow a 4 day posting schedule (instead of 3) for the next few posts as term holidays are coming and I may need spend more time with the kids.

  2. Ah…a cliffhanger! You’re killing us with the suspense. I have a feeling tha Su Luo is QF’s ex-girlfriend. Thanks for the update. Can’t wait for the next post.

    • Oh no, cant possibly happen. Never. I think QF never had a gf since he has high standards, like 150 iq and above and Su Luo does not feel smart either near or far. I realize im being mean but does not mean its untrue. >.< I dont like her. She's pitiful and pathetic at the same time.

      • I’m working a future translation last night and she is downright hateful. Pitiful is only her pretence and she is downright scheming and pathetic. Qiao Feng, stay clear from her!

  3. I hope that ‘Him’ is not QF, isn’t it mentioned in future chapters? Hopefully, she’s not, can’t imagine him being friends with him even just a school friend, unless they are related, which i doubt also. Gosh, i have such a violent reaction. And well, i dont really envision him giving ‘love’ advises, at all.

    The last part made me sad too. For once, QF did not have an answer to a question.

    • I could have missed it but I think it is not mentioned. Even if QF knows Su Luo, I also cannot imagine QF giving such encouragement too, although it really sounds like him. Furthermore, Lan Shan has noticed that he is not the nosey kind unless he considers you as his friend so it may not be him … mystery…

      • Hmm. Hope it is another character who is yet to be mentioned. Is it outrightly mentioned that it is a ‘him’?

        And for once, i find SZC so cute.  ̄ω ̄ To place such importance towards the ashtray.

      • The author did say the writer is “Him” although it is not uncommon to for one to disguise his gender over the internet.

        Tan Zi is cute too at the way SZC scolds him. I find him quite pitiful here at the degradory way he is written – more blunder than help – poor thing and why is he so hang up about Su Luo? There is nothing good about her besides acting pitiful. She behaves so differently before SZC/TZ and Lan Shan, it is outright disgusting.

  4. ^I accidentally pressed the reblog button… not that this chapter wasn’t awesome! They are so cute together and its sweet how he notices the details and tries to cheer her up. Lan Shan is strong and doesn’t let people push her down, love her attitude 😊

    • No worries about it, I wonder why WordPress have this button in the first place. Maybe there are many users who want to post the same content across several sites,

      • Well there is no harm in it since the one who click the link would be forwarded to the original blog anyway. So it’s still clear who is the author of the article. Such a reblog button is there to help an interesting article becoming more popular and viral while being promoted into some more blog sites. So the one get the biggest gain is still the original author of the blog content 😉.

  5. the ‘him’ is Qiao Feng, didn’t Qiao Feng got a message from a woman before?
    And the cat pic really remind me of schrodinger..

    SZC is the one with a false hope. He doesn’t even in Lan Shan ‘friend-zone’,

    • He got a message on his phone from a woman call Carina. Pattern similar to Su Luo, they could be one n the same/
      I think it is QF but as I comb through the book don’t translate, will look out for “Him”.

  6. I, too, suspect that SL’s “friend” is QF because of the cat’s face. Gah, she’s so uppity and pretentious, thinking every beautiful women thinks like her. It’s quite sad, yet scary at the same time. I felt so sad for LS, feeling as if she’s just free-floating, with no solid anchor to be had. I hope she realizes that QF can be that anchor, though if he doesn’t step up his games soon, she may just leave him to his alien world. Thank you for another awesome update!

  7. I do hope like all your readers that QF smarted up soon. I believe he will because he starts to get worry LS may or not coming back after she leave.

  8. According to my investigative powers and re-reading of the previous chapters, I think Carina (Qiao Feng’s ex) is indeed none other than Su Luo (Song Zi Cheng’s ex)! 😦 In a prior chapter, when Song Zi Cheng was having dinner with Lan Shan, Su Luo came up to them and accused Song Zi Cheng of two-timing her with Lan Shan, and Song retorted that she was a two-timer herself. So…does that mean she first dated someone (Qiao Feng maybe?) and then cheated on him with Song Zi Cheng? Or maybe she was dating Qiao Feng on the side while officially going out with Song Zi Cheng? But with Song’s pride, he would be furious if he knew about Su Luo’s cheating, and since Song wasn’t furious, then Qiao Feng must have been the one cheated on.

    Plus, “Carina” had once texted Qiao Feng, indicating her interest at getting back together with him and she mentioned that she had broken up with her current boyfriend. Coincidentally, Song Zi Cheng had recently broken up with Su Luo at that time.

    Plus, the “him” with the cat avatar is obviously hinting to us readers that Qiao Feng is the guy behind the avatar, and he is encouraging Carina/Su Luo to get back with her ex boyfriend. Now, since both Qiao Feng and Song Zi Cheng are her ex boyfriends, I wonder which ex boyfriend Qiao Feng is encouraging her to get back together with. I suspect Qiao Feng wants Su Luo to get back together with Song Zi Cheng so that Song Zi Cheng will stop chasing Lan Shan. However, Su Luo could get the wrong idea and think that Qiao Feng is hinting to her that he wants her back!

    Anyway, I could be completely wrong and Su Luo and Carina could be different people, just equally annoying. 😛

    • Impressive! I remember when reading the book that I suspect that Su Luo and Carina are one and the same at this point too. I have totally missed out on the reply by “Him” and it is only when I staredt reading in detail due to translating that saw “Him” and started to wonder who he is. Still, don’t worry, the truth is out there and soon to be revealed.

      • My question is: How in the world does someone as annoying, clingy, pretentious, and mean-spirited as Su Luo catch two handsome, wealthy men? Yes, the author mentions that she is beautiful, but Lan Shan seems more stunning. Also, when a man is rich, young, and handsome, he is surrounded by beautiful women, so the simple fact that Su Luo is pretty means nothing. I may not like Song Zi Cheng as much as Qiao Feng (since the author is showing her obvious bias here and fleshing out Qiao Feng much more), but at least he has the decency to break up with Su Luo first before pursuing Lan Shan. According to the earlier conversation between Su Luo and Song Zi Cheng at the restaurant, Su Luo is a two-timer, which means that she tried to hang onto both Qiao Feng and Song Zi Cheng at the same time! Greedy! Greed will come back and bite her, because she may end up with no one. I hope the author doesn’t put Song Zi Cheng and Su Luo back together! I don’t think Song Zi Cheng is such a bad guy. He treats Lan Shan with respect and he seems to treasure her gift very much. With some training and brainwashing, he could be rid of his erroneous male chauvinistic views that women are playthings and could become a potentially good husband. He and Qiao Feng are too good for Su Luo.

      • Oh, 180° turn, you turned to like Su Luo in the end. She’s no longer the scheming pathetic bitch? Q_Q

  9. Awww….thanking u in advance Moonblossom. As the Chinese said, “Jia Yu (add oil)”.

    I tried to read the translation by using google or bing, it was really hard to understand the story bcos they direct translate word for word. Most of the time it meant differently. 😦

    Hence I have to be patient to wait for you to translate more chapters even with the suspense.

  10. Oh so she’s older then the lead man? Hahah what a tiger! She has a ached herself a young housewifewife material!:)Just a little comment on the second lead. I’ve came to kind of like him, not a lot, but at least I don’t have hateful feelings towards him anymore. If it was a typical novel, we would be favoring the second lead because he is obviously the more macho, cool type while the first lead is more of little brother cute, too smart for his own good type, who would get friend-zoned despite always being there for the girl.i like that this isn’t a typical novel and the author obviously favors him. hahah and I’m also absolutely, whole heartedly in LOVE with him!!!

  11. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just
    wanted to say fantastic blog!

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