For the Love of China!

China came into the picture when I was in school, probably in the 6th grade and dad’s work consisted of travelling to the many cities of China. So one fine day we all decided to move there and see what it was like, living together was the main idea though. Me, my brother and my sister were sent to Beijing Hai Dian Foreign Language School (北京海淀外国语实验学校) which was for us, the first taste of the chinese people, chinese food, the language, culture, everything. I have a whole diary consisting of my escapades but this blog is not about that time or the others times I’ve spent in China. I find myself in Beijing, yet again this time in a university called Beijing Language and Culture University (北京语言大学).
Its almost been a month here now and my class is 2 days away from moving on and start with the next book. I have, unfortunately, been getting up early in the morning at 6 and going to my university which is about 16 stops and 2 changes later. So, its safe to say I’ve seen too much of chinese people on the run and observed enough to be writing this about them.
We all know that the Chinese are great with Fashion- Be it make-up, clothes, shoes, bags, everything. Ever wondered why? The Chinese focus a lot on their appearance and they are almost obsessed to look different from one another (Can’t blame them).
Everybody in their life has seen the part on one of the science channels where they show ants working together, getting the job done, travelling in lines to get to places, completely organised. Guess what the Ants and the Chinese have in common?
That has to be one major difference between the chinese and the rest of the world or at-least Indians. We have long discussions (democracy hai bhai, everyone has an opinion(s) and the freedom to discuss anything from simple useless topics like Delhi traffics on news channels to the ‘heavy’ (read: violent) discussions in the parliament for the ‘implementation’ of rules) *chuckles* and theoretically I might as well admit to you that we have the next hundred years planned out. Trust me, on paper we can paint you a very pretty picture but if you see the state of those rules and how much of what is written- is implemented-is followed, you will be if not anything else but astonished. We just write words make it look good and tuck it away for the next generation to deal with, but the Chinese? Oh-Hell-No, we’re talking Communism now. So the citizens of China have no choice but be ants. These people not only make rules but religiously follow them. Cannot-say-anything-negative-about-their-country.
For instance,
One fine day CNN was covering local riots in a part of China, and in only a few seconds, what do you know, poof! The channel disappears and was banned in China for the next couple of days. Surprise, surprise. The Chinese will ban anything to keep people from saying crap about them. They can ban television channels (there are hardly any English speaking channels except the CCTV series- a bunch of scripted shows, there aren’t even English newspapers and if you do happen to find one, all of them go under a huge magnifying glass before anything gets out to the public) To give you an even better example, they can even ban me from their country for writing this blog!
The population is exploding, but ironically you wont find the streets of Beijing littered, or any car jumping red lights, or any car trying take over another car (apologies to my fellow Indians who’re confused as they don’t know what that means or looks like). They have traffic jams, yes, but lined up traffic, completely civilized (again, apologies). I’m beginning to believe the Chinese invented words like ‘organize’. Such remarkable patience.

They want to take over the world!

Have you ever noticed how the government or just about any Chinese citizen talk about status of their own country on the map of the world? You should check out the words they choose to use. If that’s not innuendo-talk for taking over the world, I don’t know what is. (looks like I haven’t been watching enough of the US government give speech).
Besides the fact that the meaning of their country’s name in Chinese means ‘center country’ which is absurd because they are far from being located at the center of the earth, they talk about themselves with such dangerous ambition, I reckon if they weren’t economically advancing as much as they are, they wouldn’t be so different from the North Koreans. I’m sometimes surprised they’re open to globalization and inter-country trade. I mean that’s like accepting you need other countries to move forward and develop economically.
Socially speaking, along with globalization, China is very proactive. The Chinese keep busy by participating in everything from meaningless television game shows to something as important as national/international sports. Hundreds of ethnic groups exist, only of which 56 are recognized by the government. Sure, sometimes there are riots- but not for long. I have no idea how they manage rebels nor would I like to know. Putting everything aside, this single-party governed country has successfully managed to be a Communist country in a world in which majority believes in Democracy or Capitalism. That means even though having the largest population they have somehow been able to control their people, develop Economically, Infrastructural-ly, even Socially!
Oh-come-on! To be good at everything is humanly impossible!
 Food plays a very significant part in the chinese life and thank God it does! Its an understatement that I love their food, whether its the half fried cabbage dipped in traditional sauces or the famous hot pot or SiChuan dishes and so on. The thing about Chinese food is that there is literally no end. WangFuJin is one famous place where you’ll find street vendors selling everything from fried cockroaches to scorpions and on sticks. Recently a friend of mine told me that she heard snake meat is delicious and that we should try it …Riiight.
I am a strict chicken-lamb-pork-fish-etarian. I do not step beyond that, and nor do I plan to. Nothing other than fish intrigues me as far as seafood is concerned and beef- my religion is against and now that is forever carved on the walls of my brain. There are n number of restaurants, one after the other and please note none of them will ever be empty and so I think to myself – A restaurant business can never fail in China. Having your meals in a day is not just eating to stay alive for the Chinese, its an event.

Food is a culture of its own.

You go to a restaurant, you get a menu (read: book of options), you order dishes (soup, cold dishes, hot dishes, beverage, finally dessert anyone?) and relish the most amazing food culture in the whole world. Its amusing what the waiters at the door say to you when you’re leaving the restaurant y ‘man zou’ which means go slowly, wishing for us to get home safely. Its actually very cute and I don’t think they have that anywhere else in the world.
I have rarely ever seen chinese people fight. They’re loud talkers alright, but a verbal fight? Let alone a physical one? I doubt it. They’re not even expressively aggressive with their face like the rest of the world. Even in midst of a heated conversation between 2 Chinese  focus on the other Chinese people witnessing this. They have this look on their face of either a lost child or a look which says – ‘Don’t they know its illegal to fight?’ and then swiftly making their way out of there.
Its not just their behavior, thinking or looks that separate them, its their language too.
Putting aside the phonetics involved, the Chinese language is essentially different because little do people know this but the characters are derived from pictures (Chinese Pictography). That’s unlike any other language.

 

This is one race who decided to do it differently.

Moralism: How right are we?

You and I think different, there’s no doubt about it. What is right according to me might not be so right according to you. There are so many choices we make on a daily basis, some small, others that can change our life, perhaps, forever. It used to kill me to know whether what i was choosing to do was justified or not. A few months back, I read these lines in one of the books my grandfather gave me:
“No question more urgent arises in the human mind and cleaves the heart so deeply as the question of what is right and what is wrong.
What we formulate as the ultimate purpose of existence determines the foundation upon which we build our definitions of good and bad.

 

Thus, of tantamount importance to the issue of ethics is the determination of our personal goal in life.”

That’s my answer right there. What we take as the ultimate purpose/goal in our lives, we tend to choose accordingly judging what is good or bad. It shouldn’t be of any surprise when people think and judge things differently than us, its just what makes us individuals with different definitions of how we want life to turn out to be.
What’s more? There’s a word to this. Moralism. I believe in it. According to Wikipedia it is defined as – a belief in morality for a reason other than religiosity. There is a group which clings to this idea and they define themselves as firm believers in the ideology that humans are instilled with innate moral characteristics, a quality unchangeable, only ignorable. They simply implore man to follow his or her morals to the greatest extent possible, and by doing so, not only create a utopian social cohesion, but also a chance in a possible heaven. I’m not sure you understand what exactly what I’m trying to say through this blog, I’m not trying to imply anything, but for some reason I just think we should abide by some morals and principles so that its easier for us to define our life, our-self.

Confucius to Coelho

The Alchemist. We’ve all heard about this best-selling book. What makes this book talked about, read and accepted so much is the fact that it makes people want to dream. Something that Paulo made us realize- how important it is for us to want something, to stay focused. That brings me to his most famous quote:
“When you want something, the whole Universe conspires to help you realize your dream.”
My first Paulo Coelho book was Veronica Decides to Die.
I was in high school at the time and chose this book to read probably because my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up extremely intrigued with the title. I clearly remember, when I read that book, I knew there was something different about it. The way the story was told, how Veronica felt deep inside was described with simple words and yet they explained such complex feelings. The concept of something as complex as wishing to die, death as a whole and how Veronica saw it was slowly being understood by me. It was at that moment, I was without a doubt fascinated by the way Paulo thought.
I then went on to read other books by him. Each book, giving you a reason to think, to think hard, to argue within your head. What I think I’m trying to say is that Paulo’s writings are not only different, it also encourages the reader to think, make his mind up about the issue or situation which I have yet to discover another author doing.
Paulo is the real storyteller, and such that, while delivering the story to his readers he is able to make such amazing statements that have even made me think for a couple of days straight, and sometimes even overwhelm me!
Other remarkable books, Eleven Minutes, The Zahir, The Witch of Portobello, each tremendously different from the other, each containing a very thought-provoking issue that the author deals with. I’m pretty sure the Paulo fans know what I’m talking about. After reading a couple of books by Paulo I use to yearn for a book, which had his quotes, and the next thing I came across was The Warrior of Light. A bible for us followers of The Light. I dedicate my first blog to this amazing author who never stops making us want to think.
Coelho might idolize Confucius, but I am very confident when I say that Coelho is the Confucius of our generation. Paulo, you inspire us, you give us the meaning for living. We could never thank you enough.