From left to right: our gracious host, Feng Tang, Lao Xiao of CCTV, and Lao Luo, once a famous English teacher, not sure what he does these days.
And here is Wang Xiaoshan – blogger, long-suffering journalist, and good man in disguise – author Xu Xing, and Ai Dan (?), who everyone assumed I had heard of, though I hadn't.
Feng Tang has an international (sorry, inter-regional) jet-setter life that has him bouncing back and forth between Hong Kong and Beijing, so we don't get to see him too often. Originally this was meant to be an executive meeting to discuss momentous and secret schemes, but the executives had already cracked open the erguotou by the time I arrived, soaked by rain. The only secrets that got discussed were of the humiliating, personal kind – nothing related to world domination.
I blame this partially on Ai Dan, otherwise a charming gentleman, who was drinking erguotou by the graduated beakerful. Feng Tang's dinnerware was exclusively from the medical supply store, so I could tell from across the table when Ai Dan slurped nearly 200ml in one mouthful. Xu Xing taught me to drink baijiu, but he didn't teach me to drink like that. The evening got louder, moved to a nearby 24-hour noodle joint, and then ended – at least for me. I woke up the next morning with erguotou still in my stomach.