Lose the map

Welcome to LoseTheMap, former diary of travels around Asia, then account of everyday life in Moscow, and now with my family in Berlin - VERSIONE ITALIANA

Friday, October 10, 2008

China Part 1

Shots: http://picasaweb.com/lostconversation/China1

China. This country is dazzling me.

Far, so far away from dear old west, dear old Europe, eventually i welcome myself in the new Asia. Asia which runs, grows and changes so quickly, faster than our lazy and half closed European eyes can realize.
In these 4 weeks i learnt many things, i had big surprises and i sustained my own "absolute relativity theory", key to understand what is so far from us.
I didn't know what to expect from this country, maybe i was just scared by many partial comments and news spread outside the wall, then i entered on my feet - aware, frightened by all this police and all this censorship.

Actually my first approach with police has been intimidating: the subversive material in my bagpack (2 books about buddhism, 1 of them a gift from a mongol lama) have been confiscated at customs, them stating that "in this country religion is not allowed".

From then on i started entering these people's mind. Accustomed to being ruled by tyrants working for the supposed welfare of people, since centuries; in fact it's not easy to keep 1.3 billion people calm, it seems the only possible way to do: set straight rules and shut the mouths of chatterboxes.

Therefore this is the rule: "In China you can do whatever you want, just don't break the rule, or we'll cut your hands".
Looking at it, in 2008 actually there's not much to worry about. I've seen many foreigners move up here to work and i've seen them well and free, even chartered between all those almond eyes. All those rules are not scarying capitalism!

Chinese minds don't have concepts like jump off the queue or not paying bus ticket, most of them respect rules for the common wealth, on the other side they spit on the floor in great style and they scream, they scream at each other, shut uuuup!

Let's say that the average chinese's goal is to be equal to his fellows, and this bottom-up socialism often works well. That's why they all want same things: they take pictures in the same places and go to the toilet at the same time, they are Chinese!
Copying is good, is friendship and we all are happy!

Sometimes i would have kicked some of them, but then i realized that this is their way of being, their society, as much as our supposed individualism tends to differentiate and customize us extremely, until we are all customized and, in the end, all the same.

I've spoken to many, well educated Chinese and all of them gave me exactly the same answers about China and the outside world, keen answers and functional about being Chinese. It is cool, in reverse to what we think in Europe.
All those answers amazed me. Is this be because of a regime?
Maybe, but it's really interesting to see how they look at us, we think we are the good, the nice and the rich, we are not the only ones!

Thought to see slave in a chain and i've seen bow-tied business man, riding electric scooters in traffic jams between suvs and old carts.
Thought to be the only one with mobile phone but i'm the jinxed, youngsters have blackberries and fashion hairstyle, juxtaposed to my reddishbeard and dirty clothes!
Thought to see only foreigner travellers, but behind me are flows ofChinese tourists on holiday well equipped and shouting, ready to take thousands of pictures and buy all the same souvenirs!Thought to see atheism ruling but buddhists, daoists and muslims in their typical dress are sharing mobile phones and basket shoes, and they eat together at kfc.

In their mind they are free, happy and they have some money in their pockets. They see themselves better than Europe and eating easy USA, owned by the hated (at least we agree on one thing) G W Bush.

To finish this pathetic attempt explaining China in few lines i content myself by saying that here true or false , right or wrong doesn't exist, we have just different points-of-view, ours is one, sometimes a bit blurred, and their is one other, sometimes a bit... Chinese!

Obviously i've seen just a small part of this huge country and i say what my eyes have seen, generalizing it is foolish and impossible.
Other backpackers told me about experiences opposite to mine and opinions different from mine.

What i try to do, is, to detach from taught history and stereotypes, pretending to know nothing, avoiding endless arguments; i prefer to be neutral and to look at things with their almond eye still for a while - in the end it's also funny!

Shots: http://picasaweb.com/lostconversation/China1

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