This afternoon I lunched with visitors at my new favorite restaurant in Beijing, Element Fresh. The tandoori chicken wrap is amazing. After lunch I took them to visit a tea house run by a friend of mine. This 'tea house' is really a store front in a building that can only be described as a 'tea house mall.' Every single shop is a tea house. And not just any tea, but all specializing in Pu'er tea, from Yunnan province. I don't even begin to understand the economics of it all.
Ms. M actually has two establishments in the mall, a small one and a large one. Before we left she took us downstairs to see the larger place, which she often rents out for small gatherings. Today we happened upon a harmonica club meeting. There were a half dozen people learning how to play the harmonica. The arrival of three foreigners was a bit of a disruption, but when I asked if they'd play something, one guy seemed quite eager. He asked where we were from and I told them America. "OK, he said, I will play a song that is familiar to you," whereupon he grabbed his harmonica and mic, cupped them together over his mouth and started belting out "The House of the Rising Sun!" Everyone cheered!
After the obligatory "Beijing Harmonica Club has Friends from All Over the World" group photo, we went on our way, reminded again that so much of life here (especially as an outsider) seems to be random. It's one of the things I love about Beijing.