Memoir of a Beijing Language and Culture University student
China came into the picture when I was in 6th grade. This is when dad’s work consisted of him travelling across many different cities in China. One fine day, he decided to move us there to see what it was like, living together was the main idea. 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 for us, was 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. This time I find myself in Beijing yet again, in a university called Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) (北京语言大学).
The population in Beijing is exploding, but ironically you wont find the streets of Beijing littered, or cars jumping red lights, or cars trying to take over other cars (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. I’m beginning to believe the Chinese invented words like ‘organize’. Such remarkable patience.
Food is a culture in its own
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. There are hundreds 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.
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’ (慢走) 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 that decided to do it differently.