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1 May 2010

Fighting for long forgotten emperors

On the train to Xi’an:

An older man reads the newspaper across from me.  He is dressed in his Chinese navy blues, a jacket my grandfather might wear.  But his feet! He wears little black and yellow puma sneakers.

Xi’an:

Here it feels like old China, the China I imagined before arriving.  A little bit of Delhi’s chaos here, the Asia crazy I am used to, long for.  There are winding streets that smell of food, spices.

I love China when I am traveling in it.  I have come here with my students, and after seeing the infamous and astounding Terracotta Warriors, we find ourselves at the Wild Goose Pavilion.  I wait for the girls outside while they explore.  Chinese Buddhist monks dressed in traditional gold clothing traverse the old stone walkways in front of me.  What is the divine if not tradition?

Later, waiting for the train:

If I were younger, I would be sitting on these stoops because they are fun.  But today, I sit on them because I am one of the many travelers who would prefer to wait outside than in the large factory of the train station; in and out, in and out they push Chinese faces through a sea of others like themselves into distant and more distant cities.

I sit amongst these travelers as one of them, resting for a brief instant from the thronged city.  For today is May Day, a special day, one of celebration .  Couples and families flocked to the parks to stroll and sit and relax amongst the flowers and rock gardens.

A group of Hui women wear sequined scarves on their heads to match their peach and pnk shirts.  They sit in a circle of heat-lazy anticipation, waiting in this shaded spot, though it offers little cool.  Their husbands form a circle next to them and focus on the stories told by the eldest.

This underpass is full of little groups such as this.  Some Hui, some Han, some playing cards some silent in thought.  Many with blank, waiting faces.  I am the only one who writes—for Americans to sit idle is wasted time.  But I watch the folk around me, content in their simple rest.  Though I sit among them, like them, though I have adopted pieces of their language and their ways, I will never be able to imagine in full what they might be thinking.

Cherry blossoms and magnolia trees bring new life and a spot of color to grey Qufu…

It has been a while. And for this I apologize.  I have been processing two months of wild adventure through Asia, trying to make it have some sense.  But I shouldn’t be so naïve as to make that happen.  Asia is chaos, it is confusing and quixotic.  And like all travel in my life, it has led me closer to home.  I’ve realized that Gloucester is where the journey started and where the journey will end someday of course with visits back scattered here and there.  But about five years ago I got in my car and drove around America and realized that the road is my real home.  Since then, every few weeks I feel a tug at my soul to get started again.  And the pull increases until I finally do.

Anyhow, enough about that.  The next few entries will be elaborations on some writing I did while traveling.  Enjoy…

Also, here’s an interesting quote from one of my student’s writing:

Many countries in the world are afraid of Chinese developing.  Do the American think so?  Many articles say that the future belongs to USA and China.  I don’t think so.  Although developing very fast in the past few years, China have a lot to solve and what’s more, China will never invade others n past or future.  It’s a tradition.  If China were the strongest country in the world, what she wants to do is how to keep harmony with other.  Our ancestors taught us two characters.  One is to tolerate, and the another is harmony.  So what I think about American’s attitude towards Chinese develop may be positive.  Is that right?

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