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[茶馆闲话] 经济学人双语精读| 茶馆(选自20180915)

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    2019-5-16 21:03
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    发表于 2018-9-15 10:39 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
    本帖最后由 高级会员 于 2018-9-15 10:42 编辑


    20180915   经济学人China 版块

    The original tea party
    The Economists new China column: Chaguan
    It is named after traditional teahouses, where far more than hot drink once flowed

    GIVEN his love of Chinese teahouses, Mr Yang, a retired academic from Chengdu, was born in the right place at a terrible time. Within living memory his home town, the capital of Sichuan province, had boasted more than 600 teahouses, or chaguan. Some were famous for storytellers or opera. Others welcomed bird-lovers, who liked to suspend their pets in cages from teahouse eaves to show off their plumage and singing. Some served as rough-and-ready courtrooms for unlicensed lawyers (to take discussion teawas to seek mediation). One place might attract tattooed gangsters, another intellectuals. Wang Di of the University of Macau, a scholar of teahouses, cites an old editor who in the 1930s and 1940s ran his journal from a teashop table.

    Mr Yang, who declined to give his full name, favours Heming teahouse, a lakeside tea garden where patrons may spend hours in bamboo armchairs, reading newspapers, munching melon seeds or paying a professional ear-cleaner to rootle away with metal skewers. But he has known more dangerous times. Soon after first visiting the teahouse as a child in the 1960s, such businesses were targeted when young, fanatical Red Guards roamed his city during the Cultural Revolution. Back then everyone was busy chanting about revolution on the streetsthis type of culture was criticised,he recalls. Slow tea-sipping was called time-wasting, vain and bad. Maoist zealots closed teahouses.
    This was not their first taste of repression. Before Communism, Chengdu endured iron-fisted rule by the Nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek. Despots with a bossy, scoutmasterly streak, the Nationalists issued dozens of orders to stamp out bad teahouse habits. Managers were told to report clients spreading political rumours. Bawdy songs were banned. Teahouses were told to expel itinerant barbers (who did sometimes drop hair clippings in other patronsteacups, it is true). During the war with Japan, teahouses in Chengdu were ordered to display Nationalist flags, slogans and leadersportraits, and to inscribe approved news headlines on blackboards. In 1948 Sichuans governor demanded teahouse controls to regulate people who do not follow rulesand turn uselessness into usefulness.

    Teahouses had been little safer during the first decades of the 20th century, when warlords had brought terror to cities, or even earlier in the dying days of the final imperial dynasty, the Qing. The author Lao She, who in 1956 charted a Beijing teashops woes over a half-century in his play Teahouse, drew on life when he had the establishments manager pin up signs pleading No talk of state affairs, or when he showed grey-gowned secret police arresting customers for questioning the government.

    That teahouses managed equally to enrage Red Guards, Nationalist police chiefs and desiccated imperial mandarins might be reason enough to cherish them, and to name The Economists new China column Chaguanin their honour. But teahouses are more than fine places that attracted the right enemies. In their heyday, when some city streets might have boasted half a dozen, they were places to relax, do business, gossip and exchange ideas, both lowbrow and highfalutin. Some teahouse litigators were crooks, writes Qin Shao of the College of New Jersey, another teahouse historian. But at its best, teashop mediation with crowds hearing every word, could expose and shame local bullies, offering a rough sort of accountability.

    Like users of social media today, teahouse patrons loved tales of corruption, broken promises and immorality among the mighty. Some were false. Others contained enough truth to help explain why officials raged at them. A stubborn, indignant, often mocking resistance to finger-wagging propaganda is as much a Chinese tradition as deference to authority.

    Officials have spent more than a century vowing to modernise China, promoting reforms thatcertainly in the past 40 yearsoften demand the worlds admiration. Chinese leaders argue that their vast country cannot risk the morale-sapping confusion that might be sown by a free press, independent courts or even civic groups with the right to criticise official wrongs. Anyone calling for democratic freedoms is attempting to infect China with dangerously alien, indeed Western notions, officials assert.

    Yet such claims look questionable, not to mention self-serving, after reading historic accounts of teahouses and the unmistakably democratic impulses that sometimes moved customers. Even signs reading No talk of state affairscan be read as ironic symbols of protest against the suppression of free speech, as Wang Di has written. Similar democratic impulses can still be seen all over China, whenever citizens note that powers are being abused, mistakes covered up or that life seems unfair or absurd.

    Teahouses are unlikely to boom again in Chengdu. Youngsters at Heming spoke of making time to chill for the afternoon, as they are usually too busy. Tastes change. This writer was on a first China posting two decades ago when Starbucks opened its inaugural shop there, in Beijing. The chain plans to have 6,000 outlets in China by 2022, with one opening every 15 hours.

    Orders for the doctor
    But teahouses are more than places to buy a drink. They represent something precious: a space that is public yet not state-controlled, where citizens may speak, listen and be moved, find work, do deals or seek redress, or simply idle for a while. Today that spirit can be found online or in the gig economy, despite government controls. It is seen when citizensgroups report injustices, displaying a complex mix of distrust and trust in officials, whose help they seek while doubting what it can achieve.

    Chaguanaims to cover that China, writing about society, the economy and culture. Long ago, in a spirit of teasing respect, teahouse waiters were dubbed tea doctors. To be a tea doctor, patiently serving while patrons talk, seems a good ambition for a China columnist. Stoke the stove, then. To work.
    都说茶馆是社会的一个缩影或窗口,中国茶馆由来已久,早在唐玄宗时期就有了,只不过当时叫“茗铺”。茶馆是爱茶者的乐园,也是人们休息、消遣和交际的场所。茶馆这个称呼多见于长江流域,两广地区称茶馆为“茶楼”,而京津地区又称为“茶亭”。茶馆本身是一种生活方式,三教九流和吃瓜群众们在这里喝茶、吃食、看戏,高谈阔论或者八卦小道消息,包容了市井百态的生活,在专栏的第一篇文章中,David 解释了为什么取名为“茶馆”,从成都茶馆历史聊到老舍的《茶馆》,最后落脚在了国家控制和言论自由。

    陆羽 《茶经》引用了南北朝时一部神话小说《陵耆老传》中一个故事,说晋元帝时“有老姥每旦独提一器茗往市弼之,市人竞买,自旦至夕,其器不减”,这可能是设茶摊、卖茶水的最早方式,也是茶馆的刍形。










    ( (成都最老的茶社:鹤鸣茶馆)



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