Language is unstable, some postmodern and contemporary poets might warn us. Some of this comes from the interplay of text and meaning, and some of it is comes from the meaning a reader assigns to what they read. No two readers read the same text the same way. Trust me, I know this sounds confusing. Bare with me. All of this partially originates from the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who drew from the linguist Ferdinand De Saussure. Some people might be reading this paragraph and go, “What the bloody hell is he talking about? Has he been drinking baijiu 白酒 and has been smashing his forehead on his keyboard, AGAIN?” So, I’m not going to unpack any deconstructionist literary critical theories at the moment. It made my head spin in graduate school, and over the past weekend, it made my head spin again.
Although, deconstructionism befuddled me in a new and different way. Recently, I attended a translation-terminology conference at Nanjing University’s Xianlin Campus. Literature and writing studies has it’s own academic jargon. Wading into translation studies, or any other professional field, for the first time would be like walking into a wind tunnel of highly technical words– you look for just about anything to grab onto before being swept away and flung painfully against a brick wall. For me, that meant relying on the literary critical theory I know and smidgen of linguistics I actually remember from a long time ago to find parallels. Basically, I was trying to find a way to “translate” from type of specialized, technical English to another. I would talk about the irony of that being at a translation-terminology conference, but only language nerds might get the joke.
Needless to say, after the first day, I went looking for a bar because I really needed to decompress my head. Thankfully, I found Gilly’s and after a couple of beers, I found myself mingling with some of the local expats and a fellow teacher from Changzhou I accidentally ran into.
Gilly’s is walking distance from the Xueze Road 学则路 xué zé lù subway station on Nanjing’s Line 3. It’s at 108 Wenfan Road. This would be in the Xianlin neighborhood of Nanjing. There are a lot of schools down this way, and a lot of expats who work in some industrial sectors live here. In short, it’s a large foreign community (teachers, engineers, business people, and so on) in Nanjing. However, the ambiance of this area is a marked difference that Xinjiekou and the bustle of Nanjing’s city center. Life seems to have a slower, more relaxed pace around Xianlin.
Gilly’s seemed to have that same vibe. However, do bare in mind I have only been there once. Good expat bars feel like they have a sense of community, and this place seemed no different. You could even see it in the food specials. The place was taking reservations for an upcoming Thanksgiving dinner, and Saturdays offered American styled breakfast specials until 4pm.
They have Asahi, Carlsberg, and Ming IPA on draft, and seeing how I wanted to drink local, I opted for the Ming IPA. It’s brewed in Nanjing.
Gilly’s also has Master Gao’s Baby Jasmine Lager for a bargain of 25 RMB per can.
Unfortunately, since I had stuffed myself silly at NJU’s Convention Center buffet restaurant, I didn’t try any of the food on their menu. Many of the locals suggested the pizza for next time I am in town.
Truth be told, I don’t know when I will back in that part of Nanjing again. For a Nanjing out-of-towner, Xianlin is like a 50 to 60 minute ride from the central station. That includes an interchange at Daxinggong or Xinjiekou if you are riding Line 1 or Line 2. It’s hard to build an easy day trip around that. However, the more relaxed feel of Xianlin as a whole is a welcome change if all you know is the more cosmopolitan parts of Nanjing. In short, I feel sort of drawn back here to see more of this area of the city.