Musings / Friday, July 1st, 2011

It’s been a whirlwind week. First, there were exams. That has never been a favorite part of studying for me. It’ s such a collective waste of time – an assessment that never provides fair indication of your ability. Anyway, exams are there to stay, much like sliced bread, and we have to take them, whether we like them or not. 🙂

And now, as I write this, my bags are packed, and I am about to embark on the longest journey I have ever taken. One month through Xinjiang, then to Qinghai, returning to Sichuan, and ending somewhere on the 28th in Chengdu. This “career break” has done its good – I have learned the basic nuances of a language, which is frustrating and fascinating in equal measure. There are good days when you remember most of the 500+ characters you learned, and there are bad days when you start forgetting the very first character you learned. But it’s been fun. It’s been more than fun. Hectic. I don’t think I have replied to a single email in the past few months! Either Gmail frustrates me with its slowness, many times it just gets stuck, or there was simply no time I could spare to write. Today is the 1st of July, the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party. Security is tight, and July 5th is also the anniversary of the Xinjiang riots. No prizes for guessing where I will be on the 5th! Hehe. Already, a lot of sites that were previously accessible yesterday are blocked – I can’t even open Lonely Planet’s website or Thorn Tree forum anymore. Access to a lot of Tibetan areas are blocked – being here gives a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the world’s second-biggest economy, and also one of the most repressed. Yet, at heart, China remains beautiful. I can only hope that the wonderful Chinese people I have met here will find a peaceful way – they should – it’s here that the voice of the Buddha is strongest.

Yesterday was another hotpot dinner. And now, I will finish the rest of my packing. There will be no more updates on this blog for a while. Internet access in Xinjiang is severely restricted, but I hope that my phone will be functional. Mountains, glaciers and deserts – yurts, monasteries and camps – that’s pretty much my life for the next one month. As for Chinese – I will continue – in India. I have already arranged a one-on-one tutor – the charming Xiang Jin will teach us through Skype. For now, goodbye – to those who I haven’t emailed as yet – curse me not – I will be back –  in a few weeks! Thanks for reading….fare thee well.

Some images from class....just what is that damn character now!


The majority of the class...Julie is wearing my glasses
The characters that dictated my life for the past 4 months and will continue to do so for the next 5 years or however long it takes to reach the level of Chinese of a 4-year old
Xiang Jin, our 1-on-1 tutor.


A view of the campus from the dorm


At the last hotpot - no prizes for guessing what David, George and Jorg are doing...


The last hotpot a while.


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