Friday, October 06, 2006

Life in Nanjing, China for a Month

Life in Nanjing, China for a Month

Date: Sep 30 2006
It was a beautiful evening in the month of June 2006, when I was nominated for a 10-month professional computing course in China. Obviously, I was wondering and dreaming about China – One of the modern but unexplored world and hidden society. Even though, this was not first Journey in Life but travelling abroad has been my fantasy from the time I was a kid. As we left Kathmandu in morning, it took couple of hours when Aircraft started to decrease its altitude and was near to the vicinity of the Hong Kong Airport. The sparkling view I could peep from the window of airplane was spectacular. The Hong Kong Airport is wonderful and very beautiful, an airport surrounded by the sea. The glistening and gleaming rays on the horizon were more alluring as it flashes through tributaries of my mind. I was also experiencing one of the most sophisticated and high-tech airports in this part of the world.

Hon Kong was very prosperous and ruled by the British for many years before it was handed to Chinese authority in late 90’s. But from ancient time, Hong Kong along with Shanghai, Beijing, and Dalian are historic and prosperous cities of China.

Once I stepped down at the Hong Kong airport I found everything amazing. Peoples were very different and amazing for me. Initially, I thought I was not from Milky Way. But I realise that diverse peoples have home in this globe. Am I giving the lecture of Anthropology and Astrology?

Seeing the Chinese woman in front of me in Chinese land at first time make me feel that they are like a doll in the shop of the ancient city of Kathmandu; The capital of Nepal, resembling like a cloned sheep.

In the future, I have to re-engineer my social philosophy about Chinese women (...and about many things as civilization is evolutionary process). I used to think that Chinese people are short and have very straight hairs although I never give much importance to physical existence of material or human body. I used to think they are skinny (like me), but after being here I realised myself that I was behind black curtain and was shouting in vain.

The journey was moving. We had to board a plane for the flight to Beijing; the capital of China, the biggest nation in the world with population of 1.28 billion. Before getting boarding pass, I quickly made use of ICT at Hong Kong Airport and emailed my family about safe existence in a different land. After a tiring and hectic flight we arrived finally in Beijing, but I didn’t find it to be any “complex gizmo”. The sun was already saying good night when arrived.

We were warmly received at the airport by the officials of Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) and were taken to hotel. I took a shower and was giving little space for various cells of my body. The next morning we have to leave for Nanjing, place where I will stay for 10.5 months of my life (more than 1%!). But, same old things were hunting me eccentrically, the Chinese people and Nanjing, the Science and Engineering University of PLA and the course-contents? What would I find?

Finally, we arrived at Nanjing. I couldn’t see drastic differences compared to Beijing because it has also big highways, sky-scrapers, buildings and everything else tourists see. Nanjing has been capital of China eleven times in history, so it is culturally rich and strategically very important place. This piece of China lies near Shanghai, the global hub for international trade and business. Our University lies in the outskirts of the city, not very far away from the core. The place is wonderful and astonishing.

There are many Chinese students who are also studying different technical subjects in this University. Once these students graduate, they will be recruited as an Officer in the People's Liberation Army, one of the biggest army in the world. The environment is perfect, if not excellent.

I wish to see swimming pool, but its not here as I have always tried and dreamed about learning to swim and improving my spoken English, it has significant importance for me. Every weekend we are taken to the different corners of city and we see her beauty.

Now I have realised that I can’t live without drinking Cola, one of the best things I adore. Thanks Cola Company, Every day I am drinking it when I have long breaks in between classes, or I feel too hot. These days I have a cold, so I am moving to hot orange.

I don’t hesitate to watch Jennifer Aniston in “Friends” or hear “Like a Virgin- Madonna” as I have many collections in my tiny black box.I am always desperate and love to logon into my Google customized homepage where I can play PCMAN (I played this game 15 years back for first time), or play SUDOKU and even sometimes classical TETRIS!

Also, I like the classical music from 70’s, or party music to shake my ass when I have free time. This is how I kill times when I have nothing to do!

Thanks to MSN and YAHOO, they have made my life easier and they are helping me to restrain financial constraints. I can talk and chat with my friends all around the world at minimal cost. I am using these industrial strengths software as much as I can and I know their power and weakness.

There are more than 50 students in my class and it’s a completely multicultural and transcontinental environment with peoples from different walks of life.

Most of the people are from the African continent, and few from Asian continent. It is very true that most of countries here are from the least developed and developing countries. Still there are many severe problems in these parts of the world where genocide as well as severe disease exists and social conflict is ruining the human civilization in 21st century.

One thing that I find very surprising as well as disgusting about African people is that they can speak English very fluently(sometimes I think that I am talking with colour folks from Texas), but their abilities to read and write are not so impressive. Most of them believe in muscles and their physical build-up (maybe they are military) and very sceptical to others. That’s different side of coin of life for me as I see things from middle. Surprisingly, students from Asia seem more calm and serious although they do have severe problems with English language.

The remarkable and memorable experience in my life is about sharing my room for the first time - and with the colourful folk from Africa! Francs, I am sure he can dance well, a very typical African dance. He is very nice, tall and large, a giant! Guy in 30’s from Namibia. He regrets himself about education. But, he loves drinking beer in free time and worrying about his family. I know he is feeling homesick, and he often shows me family album.

I was also able to make few Chinese friends, both inside the premises and in cyber world. One of them is Qi, my best friend. I don’t know his full name. It’s very very complex for me. He is very wonderful, thin and skinny young man but he wears glasses. He is studying computing. Also another Chinese guy, Simon, majoring English and have English name. Simon loves sleeping and smiling because he is fat and maybe he wants to loose a few calories! – A real Joke.

The classrooms are outstanding and well equipped, the problem is communication and unstructured course and audiences but we can bridge gaps of communication with the help of modern teaching resources. The software and environment is excellent and doesn’t give any space for us to comment.

I can see the strong co-relation that exists between ICT and quality education for better instructional pedagogy. Its importance and application in least developed countries is need of an hour where education system has always been in the limbo and fragile, thus, giving us an ample opportunity to bridge the gap and enhance our system.

I spend my time with guy from Cambodia in class. His name is Chau Soke. He is very wonderful and smiling guy. The problem with this guy is English. He works very hard to cope what the teacher teaches us in class. I am confident that he will succeed in days ahead with his strong determination and hard-work.

Chinese girls seem very orthodox at present; there could be two reasons; the girls we most often meet are students of military school, and they are highly disciplined. Another reason could be the language barrier and influx with foreigners.

But something I like about Chinese girls is their hair. It’s very straight and complex. But I was surprised when one of the Chinese girls told me that the fashion is out of date and they have something new from Korea in town at present. I am not a hair specialist nor a girl specialist, so I couldn’t exactly grab what she meant in depth. But as westernisation is affecting globally, Chinese girls are very open in relationship and fashion compared to most of the girls from this region.

Other misconceptions regarding them melted away when I saw more girls in the Nanjing foreigner’s festival in mid-September. They are very sober and beautiful girls - although they look like a stick; having something at a top but nothing at the middle, a different and weird physique.

Chinese youths are very different compared to others in this region. Most of them have studied patriotic and nationalistic education in their secondary schools and high-schools. Many young Chinese people also love to study English and go abroad. Young peoples are very conscious about international brands in clothes, cars and sports. The interesting fact is that while these young people love their country very much they also like Australia at first followed by Canada, UK, Germany and at last US.

Most of the Chinese youngsters have a craze in basketball because Chinese players are now playing for NBA. You can see a basketball court on every street corner! The reason has to do with the fact that 400 million "branded pieces" of National Basketball Association products, from jerseys to basketballs, were distributed in China last year. They are giving immense prominence to this game, as Olympic is close to Beijing in 2008.

I am sure we are going to enjoy Nanjing more than ever before in future. People are crazy to go to the Pubs and Disco’s of Nanjing although we were not allowed to go outside after 6 p.m. at first. But from the third week of September, they have opened new vistas as they have allowed us to go out till 10 pm on Saturday. Guys are really curious and counting their fingers to experience and enjoy the nightlife of this beautiful city.

Chinese people are the most dedicated people I have ever seen in my life. They are worried more about their professionalism than insignificant stuffs. I was surprised when Lt. Col. was happy to give lessons on drill and parade for international students.

Also, I was shocked that you can wear sandals in military Uniform, and even the civilians wear the military dress! This was amazing for me.

I think that they care more about their grey-matter that has never been the key integrity for most of the orthodox military in the world.

But I must praise their professionalism. I was surprised to see the Warrant Officer talking to the Colonel with a cigarette in his hand! I think it’s much more similar to Sergeant (who is the hero of the American movie!), talking with the Captain. I like it..! even though most conventional soldier oppose it.

Chinese language was one of the worst parts in my life. They taught us Chinese language for two weeks, but I am scared I won’t be able to even write my name and pronounce it in Chinese - even if I stay here for 10 months. As I was not prepared to learn Chinese language before and am not interested in learning the Chinese language at all because I am scared it will degrade my English skills although linguist says that it won’t. English is integral for my future. I can learn Chinese whenever I feel necessary. Good luck for rest who find it interesting and love to study Chinese. It is the truth that if you know Chinese it would be easier to go and do shopping, but also even without it you can accomplish your goals very easily with drawings, body gestures and a soft smile.

The food was something different for me as I was brought up in an eastern culture; I believe China is the juxtaposition of Eastern and Western culture. Here, you can taste everything of life of Eastern or Western culture. In the Northern part, the food is very different because of the climate. The Chinese people’s life in big and modern cities shows a leaning towards westernization.

Most Chinese foods are actually boiled and are soups and noodles served with chopsticks, without much spices and oils. Although the taste is not good for me at first, I believe this food contains all the constituents that are necessary for human bodies and my cells are getting enough of it for physiological needs.

Another interesting thing about China is culture and religion. There are many different tribes of Chinese peoples and their language differs from regions to regions and from provinces to provinces. It is even difficult for Chinese people to communicate with one another when they are from a different province, but they have standardised their written language so that all people can read it easily.

The wonderful part of China is related with Hong Kong and Macau. These are not called mainland China, but now they are controlled by the central government of China. Also, Tibet is a wonderful part of the China that has always been an area of interest for global world. I even recall my book and the movie "Seven Years in Tibet". I wish I could see and read it again so it would have clear and memorable manuscript in my mind forever. Tibet is the highest plateau in the world; it is the roof of the world.

The most amazing thing about China is most of the people are non-religious, or they don’t believe in religion, or they can only preach their religion inside their community, not in a public place. I am still searching for the answer!!

I always salute ideas of being secularism by person’s will, but not by the state, as freedom of human life has always been the key issue in this civilized world, hasn’t it?

As I believe myself as a secular guy, so I think this idea converges near to my belief but there are wide deviation. But in some northern part of the china, they believe in Islam and Christianity. In fact, the followers of Buddhism resemble the largest population of China and most Buddhist monasteries and temples are located in Northern part of China.

The time is running fast and it’s almost been a month. Life is changing for me, and I am adapting the new environment like birds migrating in the winter. I was never far from my home for this long period of time. I used to always dream about the materialistic world where humans are clones of machines. It’s almost like that although I do have plenty of time in the afternoon and in the evening. But again the clock is striking fast for me.

We are waiting for weeklong holidays in early October. Co-incidentally, at the same time we do have grand holidays in Nepal for a week. It’s Dashain, the biggest festival of Hindu. I am missing it this time, but I am not feeling it at all because I am enjoying my life here. Many are enjoying the Thanksgiving party, while others must be enjoying Ramadan for a month.

But at crossroad, I am able to differentiate the impact that has been generating in poor countries among the rich and the poor with the widening gap on accessing basic resources. This hampers human civilization, and denies basic freedom of life and the basic resources they ought to be with.

World leaders should build up holistic and comprehensive approach to address these issues, as it creates multi -polar societies with have and haven’t that is prone to conflict and security.

These feelings and thoughts emerging and rejuvenating in my mind are implicitly personal manifestation. You are free to comment as this is an art, not physic.

Finally, like the end of day, the first beautiful month vanishes like the sun into the dusk. I am waiting for beautiful dawn, but I know before that I have to go miles before I rest.