原文标题：Homeward Bound.............Part 3
It being the festival season, fortunately lots of cardboard boxes were being discarded by the shops every day. In China mechanism for recycling of waste works very efficiently. Within minutes of the recyclable things being discarded, they are picked up by someone or the other.
Every now and then you can see someone taking rounds of the streets and looking for recyclables in the garbage bins. From our apartment one day, I descried a woman with a pile of discarded, flattened cardboard boxes stacked high on her rickshaw. Hurriedly I went down and gestured to her about my urgent requirement as SmartSulekhika brought one from inside and showed to her the requisite size of the box holding it above her head in our first floor apartment verandah.I explained to her by pressing my thumb against a bell on an imaginary door frame indicating to ring it when she came with the precious cartons.
She seemed to have understood but she didn’t have the cartons of the size we wanted then, so she said that she will bring but she didn’t come back. As the day of departure neared and the pressure from SmartSulekhika mounted, I started losing my sleep over the cartons. I saw myself sifting garbage in the dreadful dreams at night and often woke up in cold sweat.
Since I was home all days, we would go around the town, seeing places that we had not seen, taking buses we didn't know where they would take us to and marvel at the village roads and cleanliness of the surroundings. What impressed us most was the agility of the people of all ages. They are petite and puny but up and about, alert and dexterous. Even mothers of 7-8 years old children look like young girls.
One morning, resolved and upbeat I set out on my mission. I passed by many discarded cartons but I didn’t have the courage to check them. I saw outside a shop even a carton of the size we were looking for, discarded without being flattened and I longed to possess it. I thought it won’t be fair to steal it because it was still a box and possibly the shopkeeper had kept it outside for putting some things in it but I didn't see him around.
I thought he had gone in to get the things, so I tried the door and found it locked. Crestfallen, like the fox who couldn’t get to the grapes, I walked away with a heavy heart for having been so near and yet so far away from the thing we coveted. I knew that door for me if I returned home empty handed would certainly be closed for good. I went inside a shop that had some cartons of the size we wanted, stacked near the glass panes. I indicated to the women the thing I desired and she was happy to have a customer who wanted to have a whole carton of the merchandize.
She was dejected, I swear I even saw her wiping a tear when she understood that I wanted the container without the contents. The Chinese are very helpful people especially with the foreigners they are very kind and gracious. She went inside her store and brought an empty carton and was pleased to have been of help. I walked back home with my prized possession now like a battalion commander returning after conquering hard fought enemy posts.
The task was getting the cartons was getting tougher considering Sulekhika’s exacting standards. One evening we set out together in search of hard to find boxes. We went inside a departmental store. Like we have special kinds of sweets and food preparations for different festivals, so have the Chinese. For spring festival we found every shop selling flat biscuits, made I think, of rice flour. What attracted my wife to them was the packaging in which they came. It was exactly of the size we were looking for. It had a caricature of a baby smiling on it and it resembled the smile that my wife had on her face then.
We explained to the woman attendant in gestures that we wanted some of those cartons. First she shook her hand saying “Mayo” (meaning ‘No’ in Chinese) but later she emptied the contents of two cartons and gave them to us. Now we had enough boxes to pack our excess baggage.
We packed our extra belongings in the boxes and on 5th morning I looked for the translation of “POST OFFICE” ( yo’u Ju’) on my translator and set out to get two- three wheeler taxis. I had to tell them to first come with me to my apartment, bring the cartons down and then load and take them to the post office. The task was difficult but after living in China, one develops good communicating skills. Same cannot be said though about living with the spouse, where words spoken in a mutually intelligible language can convey entirely opposite meaning than intended.
The drivers were a male and a female. They helped me in getting the boxes down and loading in the trunks of their cabs. What we ( the couple) have always appreciated in China are the women, though often for different reasons but always in unison for their sprightliness, celerity and versatility, together with social parity with men. This is one opinion where we have a complete agreement. Their women are smart, skilled and efficient not only before marriage or after having borne children but even after becoming grandmothers.
They do everything their men folk do and do them equally diligently if not better. Mostly husbands and wives work as teams, like being plumbers, painters or even when running workshops like car garages or making gates and grills. In the apartment opposite ours, lived a couple who could be seen doing embroidery from morning until late at night.
We unloaded our cartons and took them inside the post office. The staff didn’t frown or grumble on seeing so many boxes. On the contrary they came out of their seats, checked the contents of our boxes ( which is mandatory), didn’t fuss over removing electrical items ( though it is stipulated), helped us seal and tape (using the Post Office supplied tape) them and then they put and removed from them from the weighing scales themselves. They served us with smile and communicated merrily with us using lesser words of English than those of the Chinese that we use.
There were more than fifteen video cameras inside the Post Office and I can guarantee that all of them are working and monitored. It’s no wonder that there are no serial blasts in China every now and then with some silly people ferrying and planting bombs on bicycles. In China religion has no place in politics. In fact the modern generation has grown without religion and I don’t think they are more evil, immoral, heartless, misanthropes than those who in the name of religion are killing, terrorizing, maiming, torturing and spreading hate and fear.
I believe mere performance of certain rituals or praying God in a certain manner is not true worship. A religion that does not preach co-existence, love and is intolerant to other faiths is dangerous for the whole mankind but I also believe that the problem lies with the interpretation of the screeds by self serving, fanatic, zealots. The opportunist politicians further aggravate the situation fueling fire with their dimwitted rhetoric.
China is one place I need not visit- your blogs, enriched with fabulous photographs, makes me feel I have been there and know more about China than many other tourists who have gone there!!
So one tourist less for China!!!!!!!!
I hope the mighty dragon doesnt complain- ha ha
Nice blog, and lovely photographs as usual
Thanks Vijay..but you must visit China and the Chinese government must pay me for being their ambassador.
the same comments as Vijay jis only thing is your posts tempt me to visit the place if ever I get a chance--you are an excellent ambassador for china -----
lovely witeup and beautiful pictures
Thanks Rajni- If I can impress upon those who read my blogs the need to see beyond bias the collective achievement of a nation then the purpose of my writing is served. I do not about political agendas of the government, I speak about how the nation is getting transformed and this is not because of any individual or a party. I would suggest to anyone I meet to go and see for him/herself.
shailaja s bhat
I read some where that chinese eat very carefully, they always eat little less ! Liked your carton collecting spree ! Finally could Meenakshi bring all that she liked to bring back home or you had left few things back there ? I tried to bring many of my things from Jeddha(1997), but started packing months in advance as I was with young kids there. Definitely I want to visit China !
Yes Chinese are careful about their diet and very particular about the timings but now life style is changing and KFC and MacDonalds are as popular with the younger generation but still they are rigid about food timings of 7AM, 11AM and 6PM meal times. Since we go and live in fully furnished flats we have only to pack up the items she shops and the quilts, bedsheets etc. which she keeps buying.Though the rooms are heated but you do need quilts in winter.
You have given us glimpses of China. You have shown us through pictures how they work, how clean are China's developed cities and how hard they work to maintain them. It is time you joined government of India (as a start, some political party sure to win votes there next year) and started making such clean china towns in India!
Chinese are good at emulating good aspects of 'life and living' from all over the world; I know they are master copiers (I rubbed shoulders with some of them when I worked on government projects in US btw!) We all can learn a lot from them.
I like the Chinese work ethics; I am seriously thinking of visiting when my legs are still strong to move about. Wonder if China will grant me Visa; if they deny me a Visa I will mention your blogs and quote you as my Ambassador because You and Su_lekika know how to fly and hoist a nations flag... even if it is Chinese!
"Sare Jahan se accha; chineesthan thum_hara, thum_hara..."
I went through your blog with interest. It was good to read that how everything is done nicely,and how the chinese women are smart and alert. Through your very bright pictures I could make out how all the streets are so clean and well maintained..However the china women here and neither men are so active, yes they are clean and well dressed.Incidentally I discarded so many boxes today just to clean up my store.My wife goes to Senior Center where she teaches knitting and embroidery.She says Chinese women are noisy unlike their american counterpart.Hoping to read much more
Chinese women in America are no more Chinese and a lot of American features like lethargy and obesity must be adulterating them Hahahaha.. Like Indians abroad don't litter, pee and spit on the roads and drive without honking horns. In a way people are not true blood nationals anymore once they leave their sea shores. Chinese women and men too are very noisy no matter where they be :))
Enjoyed the read and lovely pictures! Your pictures invite me to go and see China atleast once..
Yes, I agree that Chinese men and women work literally shoulder to shoulder.. however, I am not sure if that tradition of working hard is passed to the younger generation. I used to live with Chinese couples (gf-bf) and it is invariably only the boy who cleans the house every time during this monthly turn and never the girl.. Also the boy did lot more cooking than the girl.. I longed for having chinese bf atleast so that my cleaning and cooking chores were taken care of :)))) of course they did yell at each other (all in chinese of course) a lot.. which I think is common in an Indian setup as well
是的，我个人认为中国男人和女人是并肩战斗的，然而我不确定这个传统是否传给了年轻一代。我以前和一对中国夫妇（男女朋友）住在一起，每次月底时总是中国男孩打扫房子，从来没看到中国女孩动过。还有，那名中国男孩比中国女孩做的饭要多得多......我渴望有一位中国男友，至少打扫和做饭这些家务事有人包了 :) 当然，他们也会互相（用中文）大喊大叫.....我想这在印度人看来是平常的。
Divya, I will tell everyone who can afford to go to China must do it once. In fighting also I think they are equal :). Well frankly speaking, The chances of men sharing work with their wives among the young couples are more but as far as I have seen there is no stigma attached to any work as being exclusively of the men or the women. As regards yelling at each other among the married people, I think this is universal, across the board, cutting across all religions, races and classes.
Divya，我会叫所有负担得起去中国的人至少去一次。就算是打架，我想他们也是平等的 :) 坦白说，在中国年轻夫妇中，双方分担家务的概率更大，但据我所见，他们不会对任何工作打上专属男人或专属女人的烙印。至于夫妻之间吵架，我想这是普遍的，遍及各宗教、种族和阶层。
Blog is very lively, careful observation, thorough analysis, you are to take an objective point of view of china. Many blogs you are Chinese netizen translation into Chinese friend in India, many netizens actively spoke highly of you who come from afar. Just have the right one called " Suu Kyi " the gentleman said, you haven't been to many places in China, such as poor and underdeveloped areas. I have here some video, is CCTV last year just shoot. Mainly introduces the country people eating habits, most of them are not developed in the mountainous area, area of ordinary families and families of ethnic minority in the city part of the shooting, shooting, the local situation you can see clearly. All is English, I don't have to spend a lot of time in translation.
A Bite of China
Navneetji, you have written many blogs on your experience in China. This is another one and again confirmed our idea about that country. It is progressing leaps and bounds, it has progressed already. Fantastic blog. Hillol
There is so much to write about all what I see there that I think I will never be able to do that.
Stealing cartons eh ! HAHA
Your pictures want me to settle in china eh , so lovely and beautiful it is. i am sure iot must be taking days for u to get used to the conditions in india eh ! HAHA
Superb one as usual.
Thanks Kamal Ji,
What to do? In an alien country, you can come across strange situations. :)