In our monthly series ‘Getting Moderately Deep With... ’ we ask a food vendor tough questions. Well, sort-of tough.
This month we meet Dong Huijuan, known as Sister Dong, who owns a small bar near University of International Business and Economics.
What is the first thing you thought when you woke up this morning?
I’m currently learning Japanese, so I thought I’d better practice. It’s my hobby to learn languages, inspired by the foreign students around here who speak many languages.
What is your idea of the perfect day?
When there are a lot of people from many countries enjoying an event or performance in this bar – it gets so exciting.
Who is your best customer?
The ones who think of this place as their second home. Some foreign students call me ‘mom’ and bring me unique souvenirs from their countries, and sometimes I share homecooked Chinese food with them. We are like one big family!
Who is your worst customer?
Sometimes people drink too much. But we understand, and it is unavoidable. When people are happy, they drink, and when they are sad, they also drink. When people are faced with big pressure in life, sometimes they go overboard. In that case, we stop serving them alcohol and make them drink something else to sober up. Our concern is safety; they arrive here safely, and we want them to go home safely, too.
Which living person do you most admire?
I admire those who can speak many languages and balance work and travel.
How are you feeling today?
Today, like many other days, is so colorful. I ate my husband's home-cooked food, and then went to judge a whisky class with friends.
When and where were you happiest?
During the weekends when many regular customers come from near and far; a lot of familiar faces catch up with me like we are old friends. We have welcomed people from so many different backgrounds, and it’s a happiness that not everyone can find.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I want to be able to better develop this bar, so whenever anyone raises the subject of having a drink, they will think of this place.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
This place is my greatest achievement. When we opened in 2013, we only had a few customers, but, slowly, more people started coming. As time passed, more and more customers became my dear friends. For example, there was a foreign student who was crying very hard that I tried to comfort as if he was my own child. He returned to his own country, but every time he comes to China, he visits and brings me a small bottle of perfume.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I’m actually quite content. Now I can offer assistance to those in need, for example, to the little stray cats around here. [One of the cats roaming around comes to snuggle.] This one was rejected by his mother when he was very young, so we raised him.
What is your most treasured possession?
Integrity, trust and virtues.
What trait do you most value in a person?
Everyone has different traits and different ways of thinking. I feel I’m generally respectful of other’s intrinsic characters, since each trait has its own merit and shortcoming.
What always makes you laugh?
A lot of things. I like observing the cats.
Who is your hero?
I feel like I am a hero [laughs]. We have survived the years well and have flourished ever since we opened the bar. My skills are good!
You can find Sister Dong’s bar The Tavern at No. 16, basement of Bldg 315, Shaoyaoju Beili, Wenxueguan Lu, Chaoyang (朝阳区文学馆路芍药居北里315号楼商业 区底商16号).