Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The hopes were shattered inside the womb. Finally, a long month holiday was in the door-step. This long holiday gave me glimpses of schooling days and University life, the perennial beauty of those golden days that would be in tributaries immortally.

I finished the book of Secular Humanism by Dr. Kurtz as I was eagerly waiting it with pertinent lust and desire. Certainly, it gave me a lot of pleasure and helped me to vindicate my principles and attitude of secular life. This book is the best book I have ever read in my life depicting the life and different societies in completely different dimensions.

Again food etiquette was never going to end as this time we were offered a banquet by the University as the semester ended. Enjoying the food with different taste and wearing the plastic glove was again the fun with chopsticks problems as usual. But it was a sheep restaurant everything we ate was entirely sheep.

Feb 14 was definitely a special day for romantic lovers around the world in one or other way. Interestingly, that was one of the worst days of the holiday as we have to desert the plan at eleventh hour because of the weird telephone call. We were called immediately to be present inside the premises. With frustration and despair we were rushing but again the taxi hunting was not easy task. However, when we were back to our apartment we realized that it was nothing serious, was neither a hoax nor it was an April fool. They were distributing us a box of oranges. We were laughing for a long time but couldn’t resume our plan as it was too late. But oranges worked pretty well when we enjoyed it after the lunch in the sun.

As my hope of touching snow feathered away forever and I have realized that I don’t have luck anymore. Surprisingly, there was a miracle in Kathmandu Valley, in Nepal where there was a snowfall after sixty two years although the snowfall is common in northern part of Nepal where Himalayas including Mt. Everest lies. I feel how unlucky I was that I couldn’t enjoy such a beautiful moment in my country and being unlucky again at Nanjing. So the hopes have been permanently faded away.

I was obsessed with serial “The Lost”. It was making my life hell. Never been addicted to movies like this before, watching the movie even at wee hours was a sucking experience but feeling you are inside the movie was charming. But now I am suffering more to see the new episodes as it’s not released yet in the market and I have to download it through internet using P2P networks. Also keeping pace with sports was another achievement as we have nothing to do to kill time.

However, the month holds very special meaning to Chinese people as New Year and autumn festival begins. Most of the schools and universities have a long month holiday and this month is the time where highest number of human migration takes place inside the earth. We could see peoples always in a rush with their luggage in the hand everywhere. It seems that whole city was traveling and we were being deserted. The building premises inside the University looks empty and deserted as we could see hollow building without any human activities. As I pass through it, it means nothing without human, completely deserted without any verve.
Chinese New Year is the first day of the lunar calendar, so it is also called the Lunar New Year. And it is also called Spring Festival since it is the beginning of the spring term, which is the first term of the 24 terms on the lunar calendar. It was recorded that Chinese started to celebrate Chinese New Year from about 2000 BC, though the celebrations were held on different times under different emperors. They started to celebrate Chinese New Year on the first day of the lunar calendar based on Emperor Wu Di's almanac of the Han Dynasty.
Legend says the celebrations of Chinese New Year may be related to a beast known as Nian. The beast Nian came out to eat people on new years until an old man found a way to conquer it. Then people started to observe and celebrate Chinese New Year. The word "Nian" now has the same meaning as Chinese New Year, which is used as commonly as Chinese New Year.
Usually the preparation starts a month before the New Year. The preparation includes thoroughly cleaning and decorating the house, buying new clothes, preparing enough food for at least two weeks. The decorations are highly symbolic with a lot of lucky words, printed paintings and red colors everywhere. Kids are busy in shopping for different kinds of firecrackers. Everyone gets a haircut before the New Year.
Celebrated internationally in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered to be the most important holiday for the Chinese as well as ethnic groups such as the Mongolians, Koreans, the Miao and the Vietnamese, who were influenced by Chinese culture in terms of religious and philosophical worldview, language and culture in general. Chinese New Year is also the time when the largest human migration takes place when Chinese all around the world return home on Chinese New Year eve to have reunion dinner with their family.
The New Year's Eve is the time for families. The New Year Eve's dinner is the biggest dinner of the year, much like Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner is full of symbolic meaning, such as Chinese dumplings implying wealth since they have the shape of ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots. Everyone, even kids, drinks a little Jiu (usually hard liquor), which symbolizes longevity since Jiu has the same pronunciation as longevity in Chinese. Then the family chats while watching national TV shows or listening to radio together until the coming of the New Year. In China, the national TV shows have been prepared for a few months by a group of famous entertainers.
Giving Hongbao or red packets during Chinese New Year is another tradition. A Red packet is simply a red envelope with money in it, which symbolizes luck and wealth. Red packets are typically handed out to younger generation by their parents, grand parents, relatives, and even close neighbors and friends.
Chinese New Year's day is celebrated within the family. Usually family members gather on the morning of New Year's Day. At this gathering red packets are given to unmarried members of the family. The second day of the Chinese New Year is usually for visiting the family of the wife if a couple is married. A large feast is also typically held on the second day of the Chinese New Year. The seventh day of the Chinese New Year celebration is traditionally everyone's birthday, the day when everyone grows one year older. It is also the day when tossed fish salad, yusheng, is eaten. People get together to toss the colorful salad and make wishes for continued wealth and prosperity in the New Year. Dragon and Lion dancing is another tradition of Chinese New Year
Lantern Festival or Yuanxiao Festival is on the 15th of the first month of Chinese New Year, which marks the end of the New Year celebrations. Chinese celebrate the first full moon of the year on this day. It is the time for family reunion again. Yuanxiao is also a kind of cake, which looks like a table tennis ball (a little smaller) made of sticky rice with sweet stuffing inside. Everyone eats a few on Lantern Festival, which symbolizes family will stick together
2007 is known as the Year of the Pig. There are 12 animal names; so by this system, year names are re-cycled every 12 years. Current year is Year 4704 by the Chinese calendar. Posters with the word ‘luck’ are often seen around the New Year's. Each year is also designated by one of the twelve animals. For instance, 2005 is Year of Rooster; 2006 is Year of Dog; and 2007 is the Year of Pig. This system is extremely practical. A child does not have to learn a new answer to the question, "How old are you?" in each New Year. Old people often lose track of their age, because they are rarely asked about their present age. Every one just have to remember that he or she was born in the "Year of the Dog" or whatever. Since this is the Year of the Pig, any one who was born in the Year of the Pig is now either 0 or 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84 or 96 years old.
The two most popular greetings during the Chiense New Year celebration season are (in Mandarin): “Gong Xi Fa Cai”, and “Xin Nian Kuai Le”. These roughly mean “Congratulations and be prosperous (financially)”, and “Happy New Year”.
Far in the horizon, I was able to see shimmering flashes and silver lining at the horizon in my grey matter after ill-faded hope melted away and we were able to plan to celebrate New Year in the small city Xu Zhou in one our Chinese friend’s home. I was wondering about that beautiful moment after being frustrated for a long time. So we were ready to start our three days trip to the Xu Zhou that was exotic, adventurous and skeptical.

Located in the northwest of Jiangsu Province, Xuzhou is the largest city of northern Jiangsu as well as the most ancient city of the province. Thousands of years' history has blessed the city with profound culture, especially when it was the second political center of the Han Dynasty (260BC-220). Now, Xuzhou is the center of the Huaihai economic development zone of China and also one of the nation's most important agricultural product bases.

The Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Han Dynasty is something very interesting. Unlike Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian, the pit is aquatic and is located in the west side of the Lion Hill, the museum shows thousands of terracotta warriors and horses. The ancient artisans emphasized to show the inner heart world and the characteristics of the warriors through their different gestures and expressions.

Guishan Han Tomb, located in the west side of Guishan Mountain in the Jiuli District, is the most famous Han tomb due to it's large scale, exquisite architecture and mysterious building ways. It is the tomb for the sixth prince and princess of the Western Han Dynasty-Liu Zhu (128BC- 116BC) and his wife. The workmen at that time dug out the mountainside and built this palace like tomb, which is consisted of two corridors, two tomb paths and five halls including bedrooms, parlors, kitchens and stables.

Xuzhou Han City is located in the Jiuli district. As a modern architecture built in the Han Dynasty style, it is one of the television bases of CCTV (China Central Television) where many teleplays and films are made. Also, it is an artistic palace both to enjoy the Han culture and to relax and recreate. The Imperial Palace displays nearly all the artifacts from the ancient palace. The statues of the emperor and other officials give it a realistic atmosphere.

Quanshan National Forest Park is located in the south suburb of the city, is praised as the 'Nature Oxygen Bar' due to its breath- taking natural beauties and rich varieties of plants and birds.

Yunlong Mountain (Dragon in Clouds Mountain), lying in the south of Xuzhou, is a well-known scenic spot of the city. The mountain is divided into nine sections just like nine dragons winding in clouds, hence its name. There are many historical relics hiding among the ever green pines and cypresses and beautiful ravines, including the huge stone sculpture of Buddha of the North Wei Dynasty (386-534), the inscriptions carved on cliff surfaces of the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, the Setting Free Cranes Pavilion of the Song Dynasty and the Xinghua Temple of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Yunlong Lake is to the west of the Yunlong Mountain and is the sister lake of the West Lake in Hangzhou. Encircled in three green mountains, the lake is just like an emerald setting in the city. The most attractive place there is the Above-water World on the central island of the lake. Seen from afar, the park just looks like a huge whale playing with water.

Xuzhou Museum, located on the north side of the Yunlong Mountain, is a comprehensive museum responsible for collecting, restoring and exhibiting the cultural relics discovered in the city. It now shows various cultural relics in the eight exhibition halls, including ancient calligraphic works, furniture, stone tablets and some precious relics once buried with the dead in the ancient tombs. The souvenir center provides you with stone inscription rubbings, calligraphic works and pictures as well as other traditional handicrafts.

The true glamour of any cities cannot be described in words, however you need to explore it and feel it.

We were restless and were very eager to start our short but exciting journey of three days. Nevertheless it was an exotic, adventurous and skeptical as we were traveling alone for the first time. We have confidence and eagerness to start the journey; however the Chinese language was our weakness and were skeptical in one or other way.

The skepticism materialized when I bought the wrong ticket but we were quickly able to figure it out as it was written somewhere in English and the cost price was less than what our friend had told us. Later I showed full address written in English language and the women gave me another ticket with a smile. As we were taking rest in the lobby at train station and were eagerly waiting for our train to arrive. We were waiting in the wrong lobby and it never showed status of our train. We realized it later as I showed ticket to one of the women luckily and she showed us the way and we realized that we almost had missed the train. As nihilism was rising and our heart-beat was rising fast but we were able to feel relaxed when we were inside the train. We were lucky as our destination was the last station of the train. But peoples were staring at us as we have long beards that were grown up after many years in this vacation. Luckily, it was a double-decker train but the day was gray and gloomy. Most of the peoples who are traveling in train are either sleeping or playing cards or sticked with the tiny-box-mobile. We passed through Yangtze River again as we were moving towards north. This was the first time we traveled in the day in the train as we were enjoying every moment of the greeneries and terrains. We pass through ridges, fields and small villages. As we passed through it we can see agricultural and industrial revolutions happening alongside the track. Every house has a New Year stickers printed in the walls and doors. It seems that everything was red. Our friend Qi was bit worried and he was busy on taking status from time to time through our newly bought mobile phone. The message was giving us more companionship and we were feeling more confident and enjoying our journey.

Sometimes I felt disgusted when a person tried to avoid us when you are simply showing your smiling gesture and affections. I was confused, we are scared or they are scared. But I never let my spirit down as inquisitiveness and eagerness was ruling us. Finally almost at the end of our journey, it became more interesting as we were able to break the tip of an ice-berg with some of the people around us and was happy to share our basic information with minimum communication skills.

Finally we arrived at XuZhou, as we came out from the train station, it was 1900. Our friend was waiting for us at the train station and it took no time to locate him as he has already passed the information about his geographical location outside the train station. Once we were out of train stations we heard bursting noises of fire-crackers and we could see fire-crackers everywhere in the sky. Thanks from our heart XuZhou for welcoming us and Qi for inviting us.

We were happy for their warm greetings although it was a new year-eve and it’s common in any part of China. As we were in front of the train station, I couldn’t figure out differences between 6 million inhabited Nanjing and one and half million inhabited XuZhou in terms of physical infrastructure city possesses. The cities architecture looks similar and it didn’t make a lot of differences to me in any way. But we were struggling hard to find a taxi again.

As we reached his home, we were warmly welcomed by his family members including his father, mother and grandmother. Later we shared the eve dinner with his family. The chopstick problem was again there and also there were some gaps because of the language as Qi can only understand English. We enjoyed the delicious dinner with wide varieties of food. More importantly, the compliments, gestures and hospitality were of great concern to us. We were amazed again when grandmother told us that we are the first foreigners she saw after the Japanese invaded China. All of them drink alcohol as it is the culture to drink on that day. We ended up with almond drinks. Family members were busy making foods for the New Year. We could hear the fire-crackers and see colorful lights whole night. The Chinese nation threw itself in a Diwali-like celebration whole night with sound and light ushering in the new year of the pig.

The next day early in the morning after taking noodles as a breakfast we went towards Lion Hill Mausoleum. However, whole-day we could hear the bursting fire-crackers. Even inside the house, it’s a customary tradition that before having breakfast, lunch and dinner. Firecrackers should be ignited inside the house.

Lion Hill Mausoleum is one of the unique mausoleums we visited in China. It has a full of verve. As life and dead holds equals’ importance, so everything you have in your life should be there in mausoleum. It was divided into four parts and took nineteen years to build it. We were surprised to see this unique mausoleum and watched different chambers designed with care and profound skills. People in Han Dynasty believe that Jade could prevent from decaying of physical body so Jade was used everywhere and was a precious element. Most of the precious elements including belt-buckles and gold ornaments were taken to the Museum. Also we visited the aquatic pit of terra cotta warriors. There were cavalry regiment and different warriors. The pit tries to describe how horses and cavalries play a vital role in the military formation in earlier days.

Later we had a delicious lunch at one of the modern Chinese restaurant. The restaurant seems to be fully occupied as peoples were enjoying the New Year day. It was the same old way to eat, you have to become a cook by yourself and have everything in front of you that you need to cook. This time, Qi takes initiatives and he himself established as a professional cook who can make delicious Chinese foods. It was wonderful experience again eating and seeing the charm of the city from the window.

Again we opted to visit Museum. We were lucky as it was open and we were crossing the finger for it from early morning. The museum was very modern and we were able to see so many antiques that have been excavated from the different monuments and historically important places around the periphery. One of the most interesting part of the music was a color, the different colors in a different floor of the museum makes it more allure and attractive and was thus able to attract enough visitors with wide variety of antiques and monuments. Not only that, I find the museum very modern and psychologically designed.

Later we move towards a bank of Yunlong Lake and enjoyed the beautiful evening. As we walk, we inhale fresh air and can see the big and beautiful lake and behind us we can see peoples traveling to Yunlong Mountain through cable-cars.

Finally, we enjoyed a New Year dinner with the family again. It was simply a re-union and it was again the emotional moment rather than something that could be described in words. We enjoyed warm hospitality along with delicious foods deep inside in our heart that would be immortal in our life. We eat dumpling and we realized that there are few foods in the Nepali and Chinese that have identical meanings like Tofu and Mommo. Again the environment was more interesting rather than foods as it was a completely a new and blended experience for us everything amazing and inquisitive.

Later at night, we watched the fire-crackers in the sky for almost an hour and we could hear and see the colorful flashes whole night. There were different types of crackers some were bursting in different types of lights other following a different track and some were bursting with unique sounds. I was amazed how much money that could have been spends on these things although firecrackers were invented on china. I had never seen so many fire-crackers in front of my naked eyes except in the inaugural ceremony of Olympics or any mega events happening in other part of the world in the TV. It seems that whole-china is a bridegroom and covered with bright lights and colors. We really enjoyed watching it as it was completely a new experience for us again and it was making the environment verve again.

The next day after our breakfast and giving tons of thanks for the kind hospitality and care, we had to say good-bye as we have to catch the train early in the morning to Nanjing. But this time we were more confident and were happier as we have gathered enough experiences and we were not novice anymore.

As the train moved on, we can peep the beautiful rural part of china and the sun was rising slowly as we moved towards south. Children have already started to eat the breakfast but we didn’t care for it as we have it already in the Qi home. However, Qi mother have also given us a lunch packet so that we can enjoy in the mid-way. But again peoples were staring to us and we were even more frustrated and embarrassed when a kid spitted us for no reasons but we simply smiled at him again as we have no other options. As usual, mobile warfare, eating and sleeping are the three common activities of peoples I realized in the train. I realized last time that I need a coke desperately so this time I was able to buy it at train station and enjoy the journey with beautiful scenery and a coke. Again we were finally enjoying the trip as we were able to talk with people around us and I was even amazed when the guy told me that I look like Taliban. So, it makes me think seriously that an outer appearance plays a vital role no matter how you feel inside. I smiled at him and said yes, however, I was finally able to convince him about my country by making the map. Finally we arrived at Nanjing very easily and relaxed.

Finally as holiday was going to end very soon, we were able to make get together with some of our Nepali friends at Nanjing Normal University and we make our way towards 1912 street again. The twilight at 1912 street emerged but I see it more differently and weirdly this time.

As we enter the club, the verve of music was again inviting us with colorful lights and heart-throbbing music. This time I was able to meet some of my friends again. I can even see the existence of Pluralism in different forms inside the closed chamber. It was simply a common juncture for peoples to enjoy their feelings and emotions with the aid of music irrespective of different walks of life, regions and cultures. The life at 1912 street was going like before as we have been there after a long duration.

The world is moving towards determinism and relativism that’s what I feel inside this close environment where smoke and music rises higher than any other tangible objects. Feeling transcendental with the art of music and dance makes you feel you are at the utopia. Jugs of ice and alcohol keeps on coming as different light moves in different angles, the music keeps on going, the time ticks on, people moving for a whole night, the security continuously keeps eye wide open every time and DJ jack keeps on playing the same old but verve music, a sort of melagonia existed forever.

Peoples quelling the thirst of their feelings in different ways some are laughing, others are shouting hard, others just move their legs in the beat of music, no restrictions anyone from old to young, from a young girl to a mature woman , from radical Islamic woman to religious Christian , from Jews to radical Hindu, from black to blondes, from Africans to Asians, from Europeans to Americans, everyone meets here, there is no boundaries and an open place where people from different walks of life just mixes up and enjoys the moment in the land of of Zion. I enjoyed it with a full verve after a long break but never took a long time to catch the beat of music to move the pace of my body.

The month was also interesting as we started to use the public vehicles effectively more than ever. We enjoyed traveling through bus and we started to realize that it’s very easy although it’s late and sometimes it’s crowded. But again I realize it has different blends of experience and we need to experience it to know more about this place and a country. Traveling in double-decker was again another fabulous experience that resided inside my gray matter from the time I was a kid.

Finally, the half-year in Nanjing is finished and the holiday is going to end soon. I know I would never have free time like this in my life. The countdown has already been started as faded hope fades forever and silver lining gives more gleaming hopes in the Chinese New Year.
Xin Nian Kuai Le…