You are ridiculous.
I once worked for a man whose mantra was “It is what It is”. It was his way of dealing with anything out of his control when he and his team had done all they could, but things still worked out other than the way he was hoping for. This is also a good mantra for China where “letting it flow” is a necessary survival tactic.
Last night I had dinner with some friends. We hoped to catch up on the last month-and-a-half; to share stories of travel and experience. After talking for quite some time – one of my friends leaned in and said “so, I can’t get a read on this – What did you think? Did you like Beijing?” I had to be honest. She was reading me correctly, and I had to admit that I wasn’t sure how I felt about my visit to the “Wild Wild East”.
Beijing, itself, being so different than any city I had visited; and the AIR residency being such a different situation that I had ever found myself in, as well… I think I still need more time to process.
As it turns out (not to be too dramatic) I find myself in some kind of confucian rabbit hole – hurling into a socio-philosophical conundrum where I can’t seem to reconcile what I learned and saw with the reality of my life. I seem to have no current choice other than to divorce myself from the pursuit of understanding culture and comparing values at all, and keep returning to extreme base principals of human to human interaction as the only thing tangible and true. Even so, my instinct is to share with friends and family the stories that both affirm cultural assumptions and satiate the mind just about as much as Travel+Leisure columns. It is easier.
But I feel like you, my readers, can handle this challange, so here are just a few of the contradictions and juxtapositions that are fighting over space in my mind: (more to follow, some images borrowed from co-residents via facebook.)
Before I left for Beijing this Summer I co-hosted a last-minute event that turned out AMAZINGLY well. I would love to have you come next time if you missed it. Here are a few photos (thanks to crow) of the talented women who performed.
It was a scorcher the day we ventured to see this temple, but it was, none the less of an experience. We found that being American is like being moving-target tourist-traps; some girls asked to individually take photos with us – they didn’t even want the building in the back ground.
This was also the day we discovered the phenomena of public dance/work-out groups. The best entertainment I have found yet!
Following the temple scene, we headed to the Pearl market for some deals on “Beats” (knock-offs) and (Tiffany quality) Pearls. All-in-all; pretty indicative of our extra curricular days here.
The end of this journey is sneaking up fast, and I will have lots of follow up research to post after my return to New York. Pieces of information we learned in the first few days are fitting together with things we are experiencing up-to-the-moment. And this sponge is ready to be squeezed!
But for now, here are a few mundane shots I wanted to share, in order to give a glimpse into the more normalizing factors of my day-to-day over the last several weeks…
At long last – here is our adventure to the Great Wall. Video coming soon from our coordinator. Basically, the most fun I’ve ever had was sliding on a toboggan down from the Great Wall. NBD.
I left off a little short last Sunday due to a lack of battery power. Here is the continuation of THIS post – with images from a lunch out, the Lamma Temple, and Houton exploration (including a project space where you wouldn’t expect it) …
(photos taken on Alli’s camera – at least one taken by Alli)
His name means Peaceful/Balance.
His style screams Hip Chinese Young Person!