“I heard that Longzhou is famous for no electricity,” I volunteered to a crowd of 23 students, seated in the growing darkness of my living room.
Laughter and knowing groans followed.
Tuesday evening, our first night for coloring eggs, had fallen prey to the notorious “Meiyou dian!” (No electricity!) which plagued our small campus and the town all day.
Announcement boards at the dormitory had proclaimed that for 4 days, we’d have no electricity from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
At least we had some warning.
In previous black-outs, coming once or twice every 2-to-3 weeks, it was just a surprise.
Why the electricity flow isn’t a constant is beyond me. I’ve asked a wide range of people and all of them have the same answer: “Don’t know. Maybe changing the lines?” And why 4 days were designated for this past week is also beyond me.
Being the optimistic individual I am, I scheduled our first night of Easter egg coloring to begin at 6:30 p.m., when the lights were supposed to come back on. The English Education majors would be the first wave to come to my home. I’d arranged for them to arrive in staggered groups, each enjoying a 30-minute session of coloring eggs. I would be done by 8:30 p.m. with plenty of time for early clean up and for everyone to get back to their dormitories to complete other activities.
It was a well thought out plan.
I’d boiled 45 eggs that afternoon, set up extra tables, arranged drying racks and cups for coloring, pulled out the best of the stickers and markers for egg decorating, swept the floor and tidied up my place.
I mixed 10 different colors of various shades to give all the groups enough time, and variety to choose from, to color their eggs within 30 minutes. And I put the dog away in the back bedroom as she gets a little too excited when too many people are present.
After all this, I waited with great anticipation for the electricity to come back on and the evening to begin with the first knock at the door.
What followed wasn’t exactly the perfectly planned evening.
The electricity didn’t come on at the appointed time.
My first group arrived so we just sat around in the darkening room waiting any minute to be illuminated so we could begin.
At 7 p.m., the next wave of students came to join us, bringing our number to 23.
Definitely time to bring out the candles and more stools.
By 7:30, I had to turn away the 3rd group of students due to lack of people space and tell them to return at 8:30. I was starting to lose hope that our egg coloring would ever take place when, at 7:35 p.m., the lights finally came on.
A cheer went up as everyone scampered out of their seats and surrounded the egg coloring table for instructions.
Although a bit chaotic due the sheer numbers of overly excited, enthusiastic, impatient Chinese young people, everyone did get to color an egg and photograph their special evening to hearts’ content.
Our last group petered out, having to come so late. I only had 4 of the original 12 arrive. Those 4, however, were the luckiest. They finished the eggs of those who didn’t come, then took their many multi-colored prizes home with them, along with handfuls of candy. I’m sure they were the envy of lazy dorm mates who opted out not to come.
It definitely pays to go last!
It wasn’t until 10 p.m. that the last student left and not until 11 p.m. that I was finally able to clean up.
It was a worthy, worthwhile venture but one I didn’t want repeated.
Thus due to our meiyou dian dilemma for the next few days, I decided to settle for just that one night of egg coloring.
Yes, a bit of a disappointment but at least one night was a success and enjoyed by those who came.
Next year, I’ll try it again.
From Longzhou, Ping An (Peace)!