Peng’s Birthday Business

Nicholas Quirke was putting Peng first on 19 September 2020 and celebrating his significant birthday with him. Once he had shared the envelope and presents with him and they had breakfasted on noodles they got ready to go and collect the cake Nicholas had bought. This actually meant a 40 minute journey by subway where they were met at gate by the cake makers husband who handed the vegan desert across the barrier to them on a chill bag with forks and a cake slice and a crown for the birthday boy. The next stop was lunch at L Bodhi Vegetarian Restaurant, which required another equally long subway ride. It was beautifully decorated with Buddhist values and on arrival they were led by a serene waitress to their their table in a private booth. All the tables were in booths, but it seemed they were lucky with their regal space which not only had natural light, but also air conditioning, something, they learned from the complaints of the next door diners not everyone shared. Although they had made the restaurant aware that they were celebrating a birthday, they were surprised to find a huge complimentary cake waiting for Peng on arrival. The meal was delicious, 10 dishes each and served in a dazzling array of colours a means, including pots of dry ice giving a mystical feel to the fragrant, delicious, delicately seasoned food. They didn’t need to use the cake that Nicholas had bought but they would have it later. They spent over 2 hours dining and having eaten the whole of the cake as well the need for some exercise was incumbent upon them. They decided to cycle the the 4,5 miles to the Camera Stylo cafe in the Hutong where the ‘Peking to Beijing’ exhibition was taking place. The journey took them, at ground level past the China Zun tower, the city’s highest building and which dominated Beijing’s skyline. The cafe turned out to be a small cinema club and he loved its shabby vintage ambiance. He examined the photographs and appreciated the style and the subject matter of Beijing people and places, but he felt there to be a lack of material, which after 5 years of living in the city he had expected a larger and more varied catalogue. He enjoyed an iced coconut coffee and they took the opportunity to light the candles and eat the cake that Nicholas had bought. The food still weighed heavily on them and a slow walk through Hutong’s and the area Peng had been raised to East Chang’an Avenue where the setting sun gave a dazzling light to the mirrored windows of the Grand Hyatt hotel and the arts market that wa seeing held there.. They cycled back through Tiananman square in the glorious sunset and when they reached home they settled down to watch ‘The Owners’, a quirky British thriller, with a glass of Champagne and some snacks. The film was an entertaining conclusion to Peng’s birthday business and it required little encouragement for him to take to the bed and sleep.

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