MY AYI IS BACK!!!!!!! This may not be that exciting to anyone else but it is the best gift I have received this week. OK – I haven’t received any other gifts but this would definitely be the best if I had received any gifts.
For the uninitiated I supposed I should explain that an Ayi is the person who takes care of all the pesky little details in life that makes living in a different culture difficult. For those who leave China and return back to home countries Ayis are missed more than jobs, friends or loved ones.
My Ayi’s name is Liu Shi Hong and she has worked for me for 3 years. She is married to a great man, has a very smart 14 year old daughter who is attending one of the top high schools in Beijing (the Chinese education system is a topic for a whole other blog) and takes care of her mother who is suffering from cancer. She is about 4 foot 10 inches tall. I have also been told that she can trace her family ancestors back to the Emperor Guards. This is an extremely special history. Her ancestors worked and protected the Emperor and his family.
She has just taken a week off to celebrate the New Year with her family and today is the first time she has been to my apartment for a week. My poor apartment was beginning to take on the look that my apartments always have had – cluttered and it was desperately calling out for Ayi to come and set it straight. She is doing that right now. Praise be!!!!
It is not that I am not capable of doing my own cleaning, laundry, bill paying, ironing, garbage collecting etc etc but i chose not to do so. Ayis are NOT maids. They are much more than that. The word has the connotation of “Auntie”. An Ayi literally takes care of us. Some of my friends whose husbands are here with big companies have two or three Ayis. They have a child care ayi, cooking ayi and cleaning ayi.
Shi Hong handles all the things in Chinese I can’t always handle. She speaks about as much English as I do Chinese but we manage to understand each other and laugh a lot.
I have to say that there are certain difficulties that are involved when you chose to live overseas especially in an Asian country but there are certainly perks and this is one.
I suppose I should mention that I am blessed because Shi Hong is also my driver. That is an unusual combination and is one of the main reasons I hired her three years ago. Every morning she is out there in her car waiting for me at 7:00 am to drive me to school. On Sunday’s she drives me to church. When I come home from a vacation there is always food in the house and diet coke.
Speaking of drivers brings me to Henry the cat. He is owned by a friend from school and every since Henry went through quarantine he has struggled with his health. Endless trips have been made back and forth between home and the Vet Clinic. Finally Henry’s mother decided she was tired of the continual running back and forth and so she hired her own driver for school and one of his job’s is to quite regularly deliver Henry in his cage to the Clinic for medication and check ups. Not every cat can have his own driver but in Beijing a white cat of Turkish descent can live a great life.
As far as the noise of the festival season – I have been told that it will be another 9 days before we have the Lantern Festival, which is the 15th day of New Year, and then we will do the noise all over again for 24 hours. Thank goodness this year it is on a Friday.
Gotta love China and Beijing.