We quiz some long-term Beijingers on how they intend to spend this year’s Chinese New Year and hopefully uncover some horror stories along the way. 过年 How, y’all?
Ilya Cheremnikh (pictured left above) is the mastermind behind Beixinqiao hutong-based school, Culture Yard, which he founded to help foreigners better understand and navigate China through language and workshops on Chinese culture. These include anything from helping expats master calligraphy skills, mahjong, and even classical Chinese cinema knowledge. Here we quiz Cheremnikh to see how he’ll spend this year’s CNY and how it’ll differ to years past.
What’s your full name and where are you from?
I am Ilya Cheremnikh from Israel.
What does your average CNY entail? Where are you headed this year?
Usually, on CNY, I like being on a warm tropical beach. This year though I will be sticking around Beijing and enjoying the quiet of the city. I might head up outside the Fifth Ring Road to see some fireworks.
Tell us about a particular CNY nightmare that you’ve encountered.
My biggest CNY nightmare was my dog going completely crazy because of the fireworks. He used to bark himself out of breath and shake like crazy.
Which dishes do you particularly look forward to gorging on every year?
I’ll definitely have my share of jiaozi.
What are three tips for avoiding the excesses of eating and drinking that CNY is defined by?
To avoid excess eating and drinking – don’t make friends with locals. That’s the only way, I am afraid. Every CNY I’ve spent with Chinese friends has involved a few extra kilos.
How do you deflect awkward family questions?
I don’t have a problem with personal questions.
So when are you getting married?
I haven’t been dating local girls for the past 10 years (read: I’m taken).
What are you going to spend your hongbao haul on?
I will spend my hongbao on a nice trip to Vietnam with a buddy in March.
Do you think this year’s New Year Gala will include: racism, sexism, ageism, or all of the above?
The New Year Gala will have the usual mix of tuhaoness (an awful set of characteristics of nouveau riche in China), excess, racism, and Chinese celebrity magic, as the people like it.
What do you predict the Year of the Pig holds for you?
It’s gonna be a great year for me; the business will expand, I will travel to many interesting places, and I’ll finally get my swing dancing going. Looking forward to it.
Photos courtesy of Ilya Cheremnikh