Travel should broaden the mind but more often dilates the nostrils, depending on the destination. You don’t have to possess a big, sensitive nose to catch a whiff of the Guinness factory in Dublin, nor do you require a GPS to let you know that you have reached Guangzhou, a sprawling industrial city east of Hongkong . The schnoz will let you know you have arrived, the smell and the smoke in the alleys, the taste and the bedlam of the street Chuanr (you know those lamb kebab stick things, plus other things on sticks) vendors, barmy nights sitting on stools and relaxing (boozing) with the locals wearing their summer T-shirts (rolled up tops to reveal that ubiquitous Beer Belly).
China – land of paradox and contradiction – incredible innocence and clever twist; absolute gentleness and strictness; exquisite beauty and bitter reality; hot and cold; colour and drab, with streets lined with tubs of artificial flowers and mock grass, and dusty polluted air to breathe!
This, that has brought about a special change in me, this phase has handed over to me such tangible, real encounters that are moulding me into a new being. Some episodes have made me question my own belief system, made me debate my proud perceptions, illusions. Each day can bring a fresh learning, can teach how to struggle with realities ( absoluteness) that I didn’t know exists. I bring these forward to the readers, some thought-provoking images and questions that inspire personal, soul-searching responses, as happened to me.
I cannot speak their tongue and I cannot decipher their actions because they are so different than mine. It’s not that simple, the language and culture are so demanding and forceful that they have the capacity to unschool me. What I have learnt all the years through my school, my family, my homeland, my language, culture, the art is being challenged. “Unschooling” is an educational philosophy and practice that allows children to learn through natural life experiences. Play, games, fantasy, hobbies and social interaction are supposed to take the place of traditional schools. It doesn’t matter what the theory and philosophy, but the worldliness of this different world are definitely schooling me in a different way.
The observation and interpretations of my little mind are by no means a guide to the vast middle kingdom. Far from anything else, this is but a tribute to the chance actions, that have shaped my persona(lity), chiseled my own art. It’s a supreme opportunity to honour and make permanent my time and place in the nature of things here. While at this creative mission, I also realized that beyond my self importance, I have an obligation to try to extract the maximum from every opportunity that I stumbled upon. I am thankful that you offered to read my observations, and sincerely hope it helps to season your palette too.