Chinese Tea Salon in Montreal

A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail invitation to a Chinese Tea Salon. The invitation explained that the event was “to meet, eat, drink and exchange about diverse projects in the arts, community and academic sectors. This gathering is inspired from tea houses in China (茶館, cháguăn or 茶屋, cháwū ) traditionally similar to the America Café, but centred on tea and to chat, eat and socialize.”

It sounded interesting and it was potluck. I bought mini chocolate chip muffins at the grocery store after work and headed over to the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University where the salon was being held.

The tea salon was inspired by Montreal artist Mary Wong who has been organizing tea houses for visual artists. This evening, which was organized by Janet Lumb and moderated by Alice Ming Wai Jim, an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art at Concordia University, was an opportunity for Montrealers to talk about their projects.

It was a fascinating evening. Each speaker had an interesting angle on their research and artistic project:

  • Olive Li Hui, a visiting professor, teaches a course about Chinese-Canadian women writers at Sichuan University in China;
  • Tracy Zhang explained how acrobatics is used as an instrument of cultural diplomacy in Taiwan and China;
  • Alan Wong spoke of race and sexuality;
  • Cheryl Sim, a media artist, talked about her project exploring the relationship women have with the cheong sam;
  • Parker Mah presented a trailer for his documentary Être Chinois au Québec (Being Chinese in Quebec). You can see a trailer on Youtube or at Être Chinois au Québec.net 
  • Leslie Cheung, a PhD student, talked about youth of color, the second generation and their search for identity;
  • Joanne Hui asked and answered the question “How does art teach?”
  • Henry Tsang, an associate professor at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, B.C., gave an impromptu talk on what it is to be Chinese;
  • And yours truly gave a brief talk about the inspiration behind my writing.

I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the speakers by trying to explain their projects, but a five minute video tape of each presenter, including me, will be available soon on the Asian Canadian Wiki site. I’ll post it when its available. To read more about the presenters and the evening itself, click here.

Psssst! Wanna good deal? Sidewalk sale in Chinatown!

I happened to be heading to Chinatown today when I discovered that it’s the August Moon sidewalk sale weekend. I love checking out the tables. It’s like treasure hunting!  I always find something new, interesting, quirky, and most important of all, cheap! They have ladies’ beaded slippers, slippers for men and children, purses, silk wallets, silk coin purses, leather wallets, shiny wallets, watches for adults, beaded jewellery, fake jade bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, statues of the terracotta warriors, porcelain statues, brass buddhas, dishware, scarves, bras, underwear, umbrellas, Hello Kitty backpacks, Angry Bird backpacks, bamboo plants, iPad accessories, smart phone accessories, Sponge Bob watches, Chinese DVD movies and CDs, sunglasses, straw hats, hats, baseball caps (with or without spikes), cheongsam (Chinese dresses) and a whole lot more! Haggling is optional.

A Festival of Cultures

 

This past Saturday I went to the annual Festin Culturel held by the City of Brossard to celebrate the diverse nationalities and culture of its citizens. There were food stands representing 16 countries and not a hamburger or hot dog in sight! I ate samosas from India, crepes stuffed with meat and cheese, and honey cake from Russia, and a Colombian dish of fried plantain topped with meat. Delicious!

Considering Montreal had been pounded with either rain or hot, humid weather for most of the summer, the weather was perfect for enjoying the variety of outdoor entertainment and displays by local artists. One of the attractions of the evening was Lorraine Klaasen, a South African singer. The 2013 Juno award winner for World Music Album of the Year won the approval of the crowd with her dynamic performance.