Monday, January 30, 2006

SHERIDAN-KALORAMA: Odd Celebratory Noises Coming From the Chinese Embassy

THIS WHOLE WARM WEATHER THING is starting to grow on me. So on my way back home from Virginia last night, I decided to skip the whole Metro Center transfer to the Red Line and walk up to Woodley Park from the Farragut West station. It was pleasantly not cold out, so I made my way up 19th Street to 22nd Street and onward to 23rd Street in the heights of Sheridan-Kalorama. After walking past the federal protection unit stationed outside a noted Bush administration cabinet official’s residence, I heard an unearthly noise as I approached the Portuguese ambassador's residence on Kalorama Road. It sounded like sirens, but then it sounded like a fog horn. But then it turned to wailing. I continued forward, curious.

BUT THEN IT SOUNDED LIKE OPERA with punctuations of laughter. As I approached the Chinese Embassy at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Kalorama Road, I could tell it was. Someone was holding a party in their dormitory room. It was, of course, Lunar New Year, and embassy staffers were likely celebrating the Year of the Dog.

CHINESE EMBASSY STAFFERS aren't known for being all that social in the city, even among diplomatic circles. They keep to themselves and stay close to their quarters on Connecticut Avenue or their Wisconsin Avenue annex on the back side of the Naval Observatory. (When I lived in Glover Park, on the morning of the big North Korean Ryongchon train explosion in 2004, I ended up sharing a cab with a Chinese embassy staffer rushing to Connecticut Avenue. She was very tense, running late and not very friendly to the cab driver, angered that I was being dropped off first at Dupont Circle. She stared back at me from the front passenger seat through the side-view mirror.)

So last night, it was a big surprise that I was able to catch some members of the Chinese diplomatic corps having fun for once. I wonder if this post will get picked up by Google in China?


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