Plastic Plants and green lights.
My first Chinese memory.
My first memory of China comes from Amsterdam. When my mother didn't feel like cooking I would go and get Chinese food around the corner. There used to be many Chinese restaurants when I was young. I remember the names, Golden Sunshine, Flying Dragon and Happy Palace.
To get Chinese was always quite a journey. The door of the restaurant, opened onto a narrow hall and a second door. Inside, my feet sank into red carpet. And it was always too warm and dark inside. I remember the plastic plants lit by green fluorescent lights, an aquarium with fish flapping their tails and music sweet and moody at the same time.
The waiter who took my order in the back always smiled. He wore a black waistcoat, a white shirt and a bow tie. When he had written everything down he opened a hatchbehind him that looked through to the kitchen. The kitchen was the opposite of the subdued atmosphere in the restaurant. Behind the hatch I see flames rising up and hear people yelling hysterically. The waiter who had seemed so nice would snarl something back through the hatch and then slam it closed and smile again.
Now the hardest part started. I would sit very still and wait for my food to arrive. I concentrated on the green-lit ferns, put together as toys. I'd followed the fish swimming up and down. And I looked as little as possible at the waiter, who continued to smile at me with his small brown teeth.