A Slice of Calm in Among the Crazy

First of all – I’m sorry for the huge absence, college has gotten the best of me, but I’ll try my best to keep up. I guess I felt like there was only so much to write about, and I had covered it all. But, then I started seeing men in China ride their bicycles with turtles in the front baskets – so obviously, there’s always going to be more.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to a famous Chinese rockstar (his name is Kaiser Kuo and he’s actually the Director of International Communications for Baidu – the Chinese Google – but also is a super famous Chinese heavy metal singer) and he told me that I should be writing everything down. And the turtle-in-the-basket incident is probably a great example. Actually I’ve seen this twice. The first time, the man was holding a live turtle (well I think it was live) in the basket, and ringing his bell to tell me to get out of the way. The second time, the turtle was hanging on a leash, off the handlebars and the man was calling for attention. That was a case for animal abuse if I’ve ever seen one.

There are so many sides and aspects about China and so many comments I could make, but not all of them have to do with animal abuse, or spitting on the side of the street, or about the fact that some street food stalls sell a whole frog on a skewer.

But the other week, I came across a park, with no 外国人 (foreigners), but a congregation of cute old ladies and men playing card games, Mahjong and checkers. The park had an arch, with beautiful white and pink flowers, and old couples just lined the side of the walkway. In one area, a woman and a man drew Chinese characters on the pavement with water. If I could draw characters anywhere near as good as they were drawing them, I’d be pretty satisfied.

The whole scene was just something I would never see at home – older generations coming together to get some peace and quiet in a beautiful park. And it was beautiful. People talk about China as this crazy, crazy world, where everything moves at triple speed. But, people don’t realize that we still have these little calm pockets, where you don’t see the skyscrapers, or the cars, or thousands of people.

Also, noticed I used the word ‘we’. I, unbeknownst to myself, became China. And I’m not just talking about the fact that I’m a quarter Chinese and am back to ‘my roots’ (I would say that, but I get strange looks as if I could never be Chinese). Now, I walk down the street and don’t bat an eye at the fact that turtles are hanging from bike handlebars. I don’t react to the fact that there’s a sign on a street food vendor that says “exploding chicken pulp”. I forget that when I leave China, I’m not going to be able to yell down the street in aggressive English, or walk to Family Mart in my robe – my vanity is definitely on the decline – it all just seems so normal to me now.

But it’s the times where I find these little pockets of calm that I realize that I really am living in this absolutely insane place – and sometimes, we all just need a breather. I never thought that watching a woman write 中文汉字 would be so soothing.

I officially have 21 days left of my freshman year and my first year in China, and I’m actually struggling severely with that thought. 21 days and I’m off to India for a week and then am spending three months in the U.S., probably struggling to keep on hold on the Australian accent I have left.

So although I’m putting China on pause in 21 days, I’ll probably still always have more to write about. 我觉得我没会写多,但我将会回来。

Bella 冯茵

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