04 November, 2008

Proper toppers


It was a light crowd for the Melbourne Cup. But it was the night before and all the cool kids in DC are out geeking about the election.

I've never been interested much in the ponies. But a buddy who works at the Australian Embassy got a few of us on the guest list. Wagering and bottles of crownie and VB aside, I had a duty to humor all the ladies with large funny hats.

It was a mostly quiet affair. But the crowd got more animated as the Aussies bid up the horses under the "Calcutta" rule. Perhaps last night's gaming process is a down under method, but I was a bit confused.

Inspired by Paddy in Buenos Aires' post about Barrio Chino in BsAs, I had myself a bit of a walk around Washington, DC's Chinatown. Originally a German-speaking neighborhood around the turn of 20th century, Washington's Chinese quarter is Chinatown in name only. Priced out by costly condos and the city's insatiable appetite for more office space for lawyers and lobbyists, the Chinese have long moved on. Except for a few serviceable Asian restaurants, the area is mostly populated by yuppies.


In an effort to retain the neighborhood's history, the city government requires all businesses in Chinatown to display some form of Chinese characteristic. Interpreting the municipal ordinance loosely, area businesses satisfied the government mandate by opting for Chinese signs.


DC Chinatown also has a partisan tinge when it comes to politics - Chinese politics. Many of the family and provincial associations still maintain their loyalty to the Chinese Nationalist Party (AKA Kuomintang). One can still spy Republic of China flags during the lunar new year parade and the many still celebrate October 10th as the Chinese national holiday (rather than October 1st, which is the People's Republic of China's national holiday).

If I can have a wish right now I wish I can either get a few more hours of sleep, or be at Buenos Aires for the annual pillow fight.