Everyday / Monday, March 21st, 2011

Sunday was Panday. Panda-seeing day. Yoke and Ian were having this game – the possible permutations of Pandas. Example : pandamonium, or pantastic. And indeed the pandas were pantastic.

Right at the entrance...this is the place where everyone likes to stand and take a photo.

The Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center is situated around 20km away from Chengdu. There were around 10 of us, including Xiao, a Chinese friend of Yoke, and Dawei’s tutor, a woman whose name I never obtained, and who certainly didn’t seem inclined to tutor anyone. There was the girl who Birdy and I used to call the ‘busy girl.’ We named her so because she was occupying the neighboring room, and we only used to see her run here and there, looking very busy and suitably hassled. Then, one day we found that the place next door was rather silent. No more busy girl. I found out why. Katka is from the Czech Republic – she tells me that she moved to a single room with a window. I nod in agreement. These rooms are nice, but not having a window is rather doleful. Four walls and a roommate to cope with. Doesn’t sound fun, huh?

This is what I do. Most of the time. Err, all the time.

But the pandas we saw at the center were having fun. As much fun as chewing bamboo can be. It’s a wonder these pandas are so chubby considering the poor nutrition that bamboo provides! Yet, in a poignant way, seeing these pandas reminded me of just how careless we humans can be – millions of two-legged idiots roaming this earth, and these gentle beings are fighting for survival. The pandas were not all housed in cages, thankfully. The last time I had seen a panda was at a zoo in Xian. They were roaming around irritated and dirty in a stinking cage. Here, the pandas seemed happier. The cubs were rather more active than their somnolent parents, climbing trees and even falling asleep on the tree. The parents were well, actively eating. And I remember thinking to myself, how do you distinguish one panda from another? They look so alike…but then, that’ s the sort of question that a few have asked me regarding the two-legged species. “How do you distinguish one Chinese from another? They are all so alike…the Chinkies.” I fume every time I hear that. It’s as bad as calling someone a nigger, I feel.

Ah, but after a long bus journey, I made my way home, dreaming of an afternoon that the pandas might like – good food, and a long deep nap. Except, I couldn’t. I was bombarded by a Tunisian love story, details of which I shall you in my next post. Till then, hope all is well with you – to those I haven’t been able to write, I shall do so. Soon. Or rather as pand as I can. And I hope the roads are smooth…no matter which corner of the world you may be in.

At the center, most of the paths were invitingly beautiful, like this one, with the bamboo arching over to protect you...

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