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CHINA: waxy build-up of diplomacy



The eighteenth century was the period of chinoiseries. Europeans thought that China was the land of gracious living and traditions. Paul Simon, living in deepest Chengdu, confirms that appreciation. He writes: "I've just found out about an EXCITING CHENGDU TEAHOUSE TRADITION. Ear wax removal. I kid you not. For months I've been seeing these filthy old geezers wandering through teahouses clanging improbably long, grubby steel tweezers. I finally asked a Chinese friend what service the duffers offered. Guess what-- they remove your ear wax for mere pennies. I'm not sure what the process is. In fact, I'm sure I don't want to know. Yet, somehow, I am sure I WILL soon know. I'll be sipping my Molihua cha (jasmine flower tea) and enjoying yet another damp, sunless Chengdu afternoon at a teahouse by the river. Suddenly the fellow at the next table will decide he can't tolerate his waxy build-up any longer! I'll get to see the wax removal in all its glory. What a way to start the new year. I wish you were here to witness this cultural treasure, this special custom, this pearl of oriental hygiene with me!"

Ronald Hilton - 1/1/02


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