Full Speed

Two days of heavy rain; and then the return of the blue sky.

It was pouring Tuesday morning. I hesitated to go up but did so eventually. Ah-che wasn’t home unfortunately, he went down to have his handicap certificate done, physical exam, pictures, and all that. His left shoulder was broken a few years back and was never operated on, so now he can rise his left arm to just chest height.

The wife stayed in with the three little kids. They can’t be quiet for even one second. The wife did some weaving, which looked rather pretty, the color, the movement. The big, long, all manual weaving machine will be a history soon.

I waited a couple of hours, roasting some root vegetables in the fire together. With still no signs of Ah-Che’s return and rain pouring down even harder, I decided to go down. A short stop at Ah-Yoo, the young guy who wanted to learn QiBon from Ah-Che resulted in some vague information about the tunes of the music. I like the way he talks — he like to use metaphors, like what he said about the world is a big garden, each group of people is one flower, one needs to have its own color and scant. An ethnic group, a country without its own tradition is like a flower without scant. That’s cute. By dark, we rode his moto-taxi down with his wife and sister.

Wednesday, another day of heavy rain. I called Ah-Che’s son earlier to confirm he would be home waiting for me. By the fireplace, we chatted about how to tune the Qibon Ah-Yoo talked about the day before and it opened up more infos. We went together to David the priest’s house and filmed them working on a music writing session, Ah-Che plays, David records.

I sensed a bit of hesitation from Ah-Che to go there, wasn’t quite sure why until the next day.

The session went fine, we recorded the six ways of tuning Qiben and wrote them down in simple notes. They are close enough, but not exactly the same tunes Qiben can make.

Kang made a visit to the musician’s home later in the afternoon and we had dinner together. A nice exchange for some thankful words from both me and Ah-Che. I believe respect has no language barrier. The wife roasted fava beans for us to snack on after dinner while we talked.

It was getting dark when we were about to leave, but a little joke from April Fool, the car won’t start. People in the village came to push-start, Ah-Yoo brought his motorcycle battery out to help jump, but nothing worked until someone accidently bumped the positive connector on the battery – it was all loose.

Thursday, all the jokes and rain stopped. Blue skies with white clouds painted the space in between the mountain tops. I got up early to take some pictures and ordered a birthday cake for the little girl — she’d be three.

It was almost 11 when I got up the village, had to make a trip back because I forgot the tapes I wanted the sister’s son to translate. Ah-Che was working on a new crossbow at the workshop and the house was kids-free. The wife took them to the field.

Another music recording session at his workshop. I wish I know better about field recording to get better sound. The Sanken is a great mic, but to get something studio quality is another matter.

When the sister’s son came, Ah-Che did a little teaching. Every time after a little wine for soothing the bones, Ah-Che gets rather talkative. I really appreciate his openness. Everything he knows about me came only from me, but he trusts me enough to tell his life story. He explained his hesitation; he wasn’t that keen on David and it confirmed a few things I saw I questioned. Religion following and decent moral, not necessarily an equal sign in between.

The sister came later with a new dress for the little girl, though the dress looked a bit like for a little clown. Ah-Che and the wife prepared a full meal with a fresh killed chicken and after dinner, people gathered to sing “happy birthday” to the little one with candles over birthday cake. The spread of birthday cake, another achievement of TV and globalization?

The sun was almost set when I walked a bit by the river on my way back until one of Ah-Che’s half brother’s son drove his van by and picked me up back to Fu Gong.

Friday, cloudy. Rode to the sisiter’s house at another village and got his son to work on translation. He is a good kid with great patience. He worked with me diligently on each sentence. We did hours of footage the whole day–even though he didn’t get up until almost 10. Throughout the tapes, once in a while, some great conversation emerged over the fireplace, something if they know I understand their langauge they won’t bring out. That’s the great thing working in an environment like this, taken as someone who doesn’t understand. So much more work though translating, so much more.

I’ll need another day for translation, some more from Ah-Che’s crossbow making and some other instruments. Less than a week, I should be able to head home.

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