Tamil New Year in Beijing celebration

Tamil community

On 14 April 2024 my friend Raja invited me to join the Tamil New Year in Beijing celebration.
Location was Hotel Mercure close to Ritan Park.
There are currently estimated to be at least one-hundred million Tamil people spread across distant seas, living in more than 70 different countries and islands. Among these are many thousands living in various parts of the world as refugees and asylum seekers.
More about the Tamil diaspora here.
See here the Tamil population by nation.
There are about 300,000 Tamils in the UK, of whom 200,000 are Sri Lankan while the rest are from India, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and other countries.

Discovering Tamil culture

The Tamil community showed an love for their culture by performing dance, singing, video clips, and praying. And of course Indian food. If the performances were not so “professional”, all showed unbridled enthusiasm.
When abroad it is interesting to observe how different expat communities respect and celebrate their country’s culture. My take on Belgians abroad: we mostly shine by being very low key…

Happy to meet some of my friends of our Old China Hands Lunch.

Rotary Club of Beijing celebration

100 years Rotary Club of Beijing

The report by Rtn Helen gives a nice overview of a Rotary Club of Beijing celebration.
The Rotary Club of Beijing celebrated a milestone in history, a 100 years anniversary. 200 people attended what proved to be a magnificent event at the Kempinski Hotel Beijing, on Saturday April 20, 2024.
It was a night to be remembered in so many ways. Rotarians, their families and friends were entertained with fine food, fine wine and fine music and from the photos taken on the evening, it is obvious that everyone thoroughly enjoyed what was laid on.
Beijing Rotarian President Rene Schmitt and his team left no stone unturned in ensuring everyone‘s expectations were met.

The dance floor was always the epicenter of the evening’s activities, with the choice of classical, live band and DJ music.
Prior to this, the Kempinski Hotel laid on a fine 4 course meal followed by the cutting of the 100 year celebratory cake.
And to cater for the collectors and art lovers, there was a host of objet d’art items donated by members and friends for both the silent auction and the raffle.
The proceeds of the evening reflected the generous nature of the guests and was donated to the Beijing Club’s chosen charity, funding Hypospadias Surgery for children.
It only remains to be said that the spirit of Rotary was found to be in every corner of the room on the night and it was a night to be remembered by all those that were fortunate enough to be present in celebrating the Beijing Club’s 100 year anniversary.

UWEE tables and support

Once again the UWEE Group (Union of Western and Eastern Education) supported the event, with two tables and entertainment.
We welcomed representatives from the embassies of Belgium, Luxembourg, Philippines, Moldova, Bahamas, Solomon Islands, South Pacific Islands, AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) along with other Chinese and foreign VIPs.
Jane from UWEE interviewed some of our guests.

UWEE also brought some special entertainment. The 9-year old twins (sons of the CEO of UWEE) played piano and Max, a primary school student, 11 years old, played the accordion.
They joined the impressive musical performances of the other musicians.
The evening was a real success, with speeches from Rene, our Club’s President,  the Hebei Children’s Hospital, our partner for the Gift of Life and hypospadias.
The raffle and silent auction brought a lot of excitement, many lucky winners!

An evening of pictures, mingling and history

The ballroom was filled with excitement, people going around, meeting old and new friends, taking pictures, and dancing.

And yes, the food was great and so was the wine – thanks to our sponsors!
The guests received a short introduction to the history of our club.

For the full history, see it here, “100 years Rotary Club of Beijing”.
It was a challenge to select the pictures to publish. Sorry for all the nice pics I could not post!

Old China Hands lunch 5 April 2024

Never mind Tomb Sweeping Holiday

And yes, the Old China Hands lunch 5 April 2024 was actually during the holidays. Some people had family obligations, other did not have to work. We still ended up with 30 participants who enjoyed the food and the company. We had some last minute cancellations, somehow welcome as the restaurant was fully booked! The restaurant had to ask the last ones to leave at 5 pm as other clients were coming…

The menu, see also the pictures:
– chicken curry salad OR Morel’s chef salad (ham, blue cheese, and pan-fried chicken on lettuce) OR fresh daily soup
– farmers pork sausage with onion sauce served with red cabbage and hotchpotch vegetable potatoes OR mini steak minute with blue cheese sauce served with daily vegetables and French fries OR pan-fried snapper with mustard sauce served with vegetables and mashed potatoes
– daily dessert
– coffee or tea

The next lunch is on 3 May, again during a holiday period.

This time the spotlight is on me!

See this article in theBeijinger dated 13 April 2024: “Gilbert Van Kerckhove: Beijing Expat & Food Vlog Extraordinaire”.
Here is the link.

It says:

If you’ve been on Dianping and WeChat Channels as much as we are – trust me, we’re on there quite a bit – you’ll have noticed videos posted by a rather lively elderly gentleman, trying all there is to try in Beijing’s culinary scene.
Gilbert Van Kerckhove is more than just an old-timer in Beijing, though. Having called China home for over 40 years, this Belgian expat first arrived in Beijing in 1980, when his expertise as an electrical engineer was needed to help establish a representative office for a power plant project.
Although he’s retired, Van Kerckhove has found many ways to keep busy in Beijing
Van Kerckhove ended up staying in China and assisted in the development of a few major projects in Shanghai – including the city’s Line 3 metro line and Jin Mao Tower. He later served as a senior consultant to the Beijing city government from 2000 onwards, even finding himself as the only foreigner on the city’s Development Planning Commission tasked with planning the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Even though Van Kerckhove retired eight years ago, he’s still as busy as ever. Along with making foodie videos for Dianping, WeChat Channels, Kuaishou, and Xiaohongshu he also travels the country helping with various educational and other projects.

Read the rest online!


Dragobete in Beijing

Celebration of love

On 24 February 2024 I was invited to “The celebration of Love, Dragobete  in Beijing”, by the Romanian Cultural Institute of Beijing. So what’s Dragobete? Dragobete is a traditional Romanian holiday celebrated on February 24. Dragobete was the son of Baba Dochia, which stands for the main person in the myth related to spring arrival and the end of the harsh winter. Due to his endless kindness he was chosen – according to some sources, by Virgin Mary – to be the Guardian of Love. Read about it here.
In Romania, Dragobete is known as a day for lovers, rather like Valentine’s Day.

The event was in Jinshang, in the large event hall and was attended by a very large crowd, with also the Romanian ambassador.

Fashion show

We were treated with music and a fashion show done by a Rotarian Sorina Tulan of the RC Satu Mare – District 2241.
She organized the small fashion show with clothes designed and produced by her company, the ETNOGLAM collection by INEDIT (Satu Mare).
I attended the event with two other Beijing Rotarians and we did a banner exchange.
See here a short clip on VIMEO with two of the performers. )

Romania, an undervalued tourist destination

I had the chance to visit Romania in September 2011 with a delegation of China State Grid to visit potential wind farms. We did thousands of kilometers in the country through magnificent and scenic areas. We visited among other Danube Delta, Bran Castle (Dracula!), Peles Castle, Palace of Parliament and much more.

We also had a glimpse of the vibrant nightlife.
We saw Rotary signs but when we tried the meeting of RC Levant the room was … empty.

Old China Hands lunch 1 March

Great turnout

The Old China Hands lunch 1 March 2024 has a total of 32 attendants. We had some special guests, such as Stephen Schindler (who founded Schindler Restaurants: Schindlers Anlegestelle, Schindlers Tankstelle, …). He is an old friend of Renaat.

Kevin brought his usual pair of bears to watch over us.
It was again a great lunch and everybody had a good time.

Another special guest

Jaime has a terrific long history in China and he wrote a book about it. He could be the honorary chairman of our Old China Hands group, being I guess the earliest one to arrive in China.

Jaime Adriano FlorCruz is a Filipino journalist and diplomat with a career spanning more than four decades. He has reported on a wide range of topics in China, including the country’s political and economic developments, as well as its cultural and social issues.
I know Jaime since the eighties… He was a famous journalist, a legend.
He was confirmed on December 7, 2022 as Ambassador to China. On February 24, 2023, the Foreign Ministry accepted the copy of credentials presented by newly-appointed Ambassador who arrived in China on February 14.
Jaime met a number of his old friends!

Great food

As always we had a wide choice in our special menu, some dishes are not in the normal menu:

  • Sliced Smoked salmon stuffed with seafood and garden greens OR poached eggs with wine merchant sauce OR Morel’s chef salad (ham, blue cheese, and pan-fried chicken on lettuce) OR cream of tomato soup
  • Fricandeau of beef served with hot cherry and mashed potatoes OR beef tenderloin Stroganoff OR red snapper Provençale style served with vegetables and mashed potatoes
  • daily dessert

See most of the dishes in the pictures. I went for “poached eggs with wine merchant sauce”, so good I ordered it for a take-away!. And then the “beef tenderloin Stroganoff”, super tasty.
As I always say, any complaint contact me immediately so we can check it. After the lunch, no more complaints …
The following lunch is planned for Friday 5 April 2024.