Sunday, 25 July 2010

Zaijian Zhongguo

Goodbye China, goes the title of this post. For this will be my last post from China as I wind up here and head back to India. For nearly three years, Guangzhou has been my home and you’ll perhaps forgive me for a misty eyed long farewell post.

One of the first things that struck me when I decided to come here was how little, we in India, know about China. We study a lot about European history and culture, the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Incas and Aztecs of South America, everything about the US. But we know very little about China – most Indians can’t even name a city after Beijing and Shanghai, let alone know about China’s rich history. The reverse is equally true – very few Chinese know anything about India at all. I came to China as a newbie, quite ignorant of this country.

I leave China, equally ignorant, but perhaps with a greater understanding of my ignorance. China is a complex, fascinating country rich in culture, diversity, history and tradition. It is changing at such a rapid rate that it is almost impossible to keep up. It is a country like no other in the world

Business China is, of course, fascinating and excruciating at the same time. Probably the best known facet of China. The vibrancy, the size, the dynamism, the sheer energy, the opportunities, are all well known, and take your breath away. The scale is simply astounding. When you see a factory with 100,000 workers as common place, you know you are seeing a colossal giant. The pragmatism of many of government’s policies, the foresight on developing infrastructure (the phrase “build it and they will come” has an altogether new meaning here) and the single minded pursuit of economic development are all lessons every other country would do well to learn.

Cultural China, on the other hand has been a disappointment. This country has westernized completely, but with one big exception – language. Much of traditional China is gone in the cities. If you close your eyes, and discount the colour of the skin, you could be in any western country in the world. Buildings are steel and glass. Six lane highways everywhere. Everybody is western clothes. Only the very old do Taichi – the young are in yoga , or belly dancing. I was struck by an observation somebody made – From the west, India took the language and but kept its own culture. China took the culture, but kept its language. Ring of truth in it.

Sporting China has been an absolute delight. You would expect a sports nut like me to cover this, of course. Unbelievable facilities. Great events – sitting in Guangzhou I’ve been to the World TT championships, World Badminton championships, seen a couple of NBA teams, watched the Olympic fever (alas, didn’t go to Beijing) and if I had waited for three more months, the Asian Games. Yes, the Asian Games in November will be in Guangzhou – you’ll see a bit of the city on the telly then. Not to mention great sportsmen and very pretty sports women. Been teased mercilessly for my infatuation with Zhao Ruirui, Guo Jingjing and Xie Xingfang !!

Musical China is all western. Both classical and pop. Concert halls here rival the best in the world. Traditional Chinese music ?? What’s that ?

If you mention China, you have to mention food. But you have to excuse my mere passing mention, given that I am a freak who does not eat meat.

But above all, far above all, are the people. You cannot help being blown away by the friendliness . The people are simply amazing and incredible. Despite my not knowing Chinese, I have made some wonderful friendships that are unforgettable. At work and outside work. The warmth of my colleagues at work, who accepted a foreigner with open arms and took me into their hearts has been both a privilege and a honour. The sheer joy of friendships outside work and the smile of the stranger are reasons why this has been such a memorable time.

Have there been difficulties and things not so nice ?? Of course there have been. But it would be churlish and petty to dwell on them. For the joy and delight have been so overwhelming that everything else pales into insignificance.

I leave China with mixed emotions. I will truly miss China and the wonderful friends here. As I have done the rounds of farewells over the last month, I‘ve been saying it’s a small world and that friendships are not bound by distance. But I know it won’t be the same . We all move on and we will go our divergent ways. But at least, I am thankful, that for a little while, we journeyed together.

With a lump in the throat, with a heaviness in the heart, with a trembling of the lip, with a tear that’s threatening to spill over, I say zaijian to Zhongguo.

I’ll leave you with this song, for what better way is there to walk off into the sunset than to the strains of music ……..


Sandhya Sriram said...

wow, some one cant write a more beautiful farewell piece.

amazing it is!! how beautifully you have summed up.

while no one can experience a place without actually being there, for people like me who could probably not think of seeing china in the near future, you have given a beautiful birds eye view into China.

china's loss is India's gain. looking forward to your return -

Varuga Varuga!!

Anonymous said...

sandhya madam sums it up all in one line...chinavoda loss india gain :) thaayagam kaana varum blog puli..varuga varuga.

Anonymous said...

A truly moving farewell.

I hope India finds you well and I will continue to follow your adventures as long as you post them.

Thanks for sharing your China Chapter.

j said...

//I am thankful, that for a little while, we journeyed together.// What a lovely way to look at farewells. Beautiful post. All the best!

Durga said...

Your post brings out the depth of your emotions. Must have been such a fulfilling experience in China for 3 years. Welcome back home! :-)

RS said...

Amazed at how you take time for the blog and comment, even when you are busy with farewell, packing up et. al...

PS: Thanks to all your experience, all these months, we have got a vague picture of what China is like...Wish you were nominated as the Indian ambassodor in China, I really wish...:)

Happy homecoming, Ramesh! Hope you have a great time back home....

Anonymous said...

Excellent write up of myriad of emotions.Happy home coming.

Ramesh said...

@sandhya - might sound like a broken record, but I am again touched and honoured. Thanks for the welcome

@gils - Mikka nanri thalaivare. Thaayagam vanthathum oru padam paaka polama ?

@Hopfrog - Honoured to have you as a reader and commenter. Like Mark, I'll keep the blog going and China always has to be a part of it.

@J - Thanks very much. Hope you yourself are now settling well in the new place.

@Durga - Thanks Durga. I am truly touched that I'm welcomed back home.

@RS - Awwwww. That's such a flattering comment. Thanks very much

@ambulisamma - Thanks very much

raghavendra kotla said...

Great farewell post Ramesh, you summed it up aptly !!! A journey thru various posts on China gave us a good insight on that particular land on planet. Enriched and enjoyed by your blogging journey and many of us like me will wait everyday for the new post from india. Every parting in life is sad, but as they say show must go on...welcome back to India all the best for new endeavors. (i'm completing 3rd year in s'pore, let's see what's in store for future).

Anonymous said...

oru padama..neenga inga vaanga thalaivaray...oru theater udama ella theataliyum padam polaam :)

kiwibloke said...

Welcome back home. Nice farewell post. Reminds me of what I went through on 26/12/2005. Touche!

Vishal said...

It is really so tough to say goodbye... your farewell post brought a lump in my throat and a heaviness in my heart, Ramesh! Lovely song which says it all!

We had a privilege of knowing various facets of China - its economy, its culture and its people as penned by you from time to time.

It has been a great journey that you have had with several of them and that is the most beautiful of them all indeed. One may gather good amount of information and experience living in a new world but the people part remains special forever. Very true that life won't be the same.

Welcome back home, will look forward to catch up with you :-) It would have been wonderful had I made a trip to Zhonghuo during your stay. :-)

Ramesh said...

@Kotla - Thanks. Yes, you have become a Singaporean la !!

@Gils - Vandhutten thalaivare !

@kiwi - Many thanks. OMG has it been 5 years now. 2005 must have been even more senti for you - an even bigger move.

@Vishal - Thanks Vishal. Hopefully we can catch up although we are still a couple of thousand miles apart.

zeno said...

As most mentioned above, it was definitely touching.
More practical, more realistic more magnanimous. A fitting finale!
Welcome Back, As Gils said definitely movies. Adhu enna chinnapulla thanama oru movie neriya movies ;)
neriya youtube link anupuren :P :D

Deepa said...

Having done it so many times and since my childhood, Good-byes still don't come easily. In 3 yrs a place grows on you and you've summed up your farewell so beautifully and earnestly.

And a special mention for the link.

Welcome back home!

Hang said...

Ramesh, I cannot believe you are leaving! It's been a while since I came to read your posts for the first time in 2008. Time flies, doesn't it. It's sad to hear about your departure, but I am looking forward to your new posts written from India. Good luck!

Ramesh said...

@zeno - Thanks very much. Absolutely no joy in watching anything on Youtube I thought - aren't you supposed to sit in the first row and whistle ??

@Deepa - Yeah; I've moved around a bit too, but its never easy to do so. It'll be good to get back to Bangalore, but ......

@Hang - Wonderful to see you back. I thought you had completely given up blogging. Yes, time flies, indeed. I hope to continue to keep in touch with China - your country will be a part of me always.

hansjoerg said...

I would like to thank you for all you did for us, for me and for all our colleagues while you have been in China. Yes I believe this was a truly great time for you, but I also know this was a difficult time for you. Thank you so much for all what you contributed during the last 3 years. You can now be the best and a truly reliable ambassador between the two largest nations in Asia, India and China. I am so impressed how much you dived into the Chinese world. You learned not only that difficult language you also studied the culture, the way of doing business and I believe you learned a lot about you and your own nation India. All the best for you, when you are back in India.

Ramesh said...

@Hansjoerg - Thank you so much for your very kind words. I am truly touched. I look forward to continuing to be in contact and being friends.

Vinod said...

Welcome back Ramesh. Welcome home :-)

Neelesh said...

Brief in Details !!..

We were waiting for Long for this, Home is waiting with a Red Carpet !!

RamMmm said...

Welcome back. We all sail to unknown lands and then return back one day, richer with gained knowledge and richer with the experience hoping to utilize it sometime, someday. You have had a wonderful experience.

Have a safe homecoming.

Ramesh said...

@Vinod - Thanks very much. I look forward to catching up.

@Neelash - So so kind. I am overwhelmed.

@RamMmm - Thank you. Indeed experience is the greatest teacher.

Srivats said...

Dearest friend

As much as I take part in ur sadness of leaving the country,( I can understand this emotion, having had one of mine too. )I am secretly happy that u are coming down to India.

Would be more than happy to have that cup of tea which we have been talking about sometime back.

Aside this, I think thats a well rounded post. I was wondering how bad my farewell post was on singapore and how well u have captured the different aspects of it.

There are some places, that touched me , and that had ur touch :)

Take care
More in email

Ramesh said...

Hey Sri, Wonderful to see you here. Mailing you separately.

The difference between your post and my post is that you write poetry while I write prose.

zeno said...

What a due diligence in updating the profile. :)
Watching in youtube has its very own advantages ;)With the help of u can download, transfer to ipod watch it in leisure during travel
King kong and saroja[a tamil movie]were the only two movies that i watched from front rows!
Chennai does have great theatres, let us know once you come over here!

Ramesh said...

@zeno - Look forward to meeting the venerable philosopher in person !!

Aashish said...

Welcome home Ramesh. Can't wait to read your commentary on India 2010. So many wonderful topics for you to choose - Common Wealth Games vs Asian Games (ha!), Mamata Didi and perhaps a post on Hindi News channels.

Anonymous said...

I think I can related to what you feel. When we moved from MI last year, it was all kinds of mixed emotions.But then when you know you are going back home, it all kinda seems O.K. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful stories from your stay in this wonderful country. It was a pleasure knowing through your writings.Good Luck.

Ramesh said...

@Aashish - Thanks. India is always a fertile ground for things to write on. Let me know when you are next in Bangalore. It would be nice to catch up.

@blogueur - Thanks for such a kind comment.

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