WOR(L)DS APART is a travel narrative in e-mails. Woven into the e-mails are short stories, photos, and travelogues – like the one below: Smitha’s notes on arriving in China, with a first, simple life lesson.
Bound by some hopes and spurred by some dreams – that’s how I arrived here in China.
The earliest memory of China is of Beijing. Landing in Beijing, the first thing that strikes… having never travelled outside India is that the land smells different! Strange but true. The air has a different feel to it and the people… you realize that you are surrounded by people who don’t seem to be like you at all. People whom you realize only later are just the same… just like you.
And the second thing that strikes you is the language. I hear sounds of a language unlike anything I have ever heard. I assume immediately, considering how difficult it was to carry on a normal conversation with even an average English speaker, that I would hardly be able to make friends here. How wrong I would be! Assumptions have a funny way of turning back and rebounding… and landing you with the first of these lessons dictated by an ancient land steeped in philosophy.
Lesson One? Never assume anything.
Good old Confucius and indeed any of the thousand “Laughing Buddhas” dotting the country would be smiling at me, a mere mortal trying to construct the truth that they have known for centuries.
Beijing is a mad rush. A mad rush to leave the airport. A mad rush to catch the train to destination two, Taiyuan. Missing it in the madness. And then, how it changes. China moves from one time zone to another. Chaos changes herself over to Serenity. Just whiling time. Sipping tea. And listening to this genial, but slightly drunk Australian. The beautiful music of Chinese flutes, slowly floating through the air and resting a while on the imprint of the mind. Gently smiling the hours away. Watching the endless stream of cycles. Feeling the pulse of a city, its people. Waiting. Just waiting. For the next train. A journey only just begun.