Tuesday, March 28, 2006

28 March 2006 - Uremqi

I saw some English words in an advertisement in beautiful downtown Uremqi, today, some I thought important enough to jot down while Xu Tan was mailing a letter, some I wanted to pass on… We were walking back to the hotel after quite a full day, when I spied: ‘The great kindness invites mutuality!’ How wonderful! Yes! Yes, and Yes, a thousand times! But, when will man learn? ‘The great kindness invites mutuality!’ It certainly does and such has been said in so many different ways, in so many different languages, and over hundreds of years! But, when will man learn? ‘What you put out, you get back!’ Karma! One good turn deserves another! I will remember all of the different ways to say over time, and include them in this daily ‘doses,’ of experience living ‘out here!’

What a day! What a life! As Marina would lament! It was perfect, and sublime! Everything from poluo to the weather, to a ‘towering inferno!’ (Glad we hadn’t booked to stay in the Uremqi City Hotel, as there was a fire in the very top floors (check out the photos eventually).

The only slight ‘hitch,’ was there was always some problem at our favorite (where Xu Tan and I met in the W.C.) Net Bar, the ‘Cyber Club!’ We went back four times, and every time there was a problem… The first three had to do with no electricity, and the last some problem with their server. So, it wasn’t my day to get online.

Let me see, so much happens in my life I can barely remember it all… But, I remember we walked by ‘Uncle Bob’s,’ and he must have gone out of business, as it’s been closed every time I’ve been there since December. But, maybe he closes for the winter, as many do who serve the tourists. Uncle Bob’s is the only American owned and operated restaurant in Uremqi (that I know of).

Then only 100 meters from Uncle Bob’s is a plaque, monument (statue) and ‘museum,’ (house where lived) of Mao Zedong’s younger brother (who lived in Uremqi). I had gone by this place several times and always wondered. But, today I was with ‘Tom,’ (Xu Tan) and he read the plaque in Chinese. Mao Zedong’s younger brother! But, I still don’t know what his claim to fame is, exception the relation.

Then on to a T-shirt factory, via the northwestern part of Uremqi and a rich residential area (I’d never gotten to when I lived here for two months last August and September. This is area in some hills where there are parks, and where they are building now building a western-styled housing development. I’ll bet these homes cost millions of RMB. It was called something like ‘Green Valley!’

Then up ahead we met his friends on the street, a young woman and man, a couple I suppose, although I never learned. This what is so interesting about living in Asia where you never quite know what’s going on. They knew where the T-shirt factory was, ‘not far.’ But, it turned out it was across town, and the total taxi fare something like 27Yuan / $3.50 U.S. (nothing by comparison to European cities, but more than Kashigar.

A shrewd Chinese woman ran the place sitting behind a large desk, her family helping, I’m sure. They seemed very organized, presenting us with business cards and sample shirts. Of course, there was the cup of tea with the leaves in with the hot water, this via a modern hot-water dispenser and paper cup. I generally have a sip of this and then don’t finish.` Although I drink ‘lu cha,’ I don’t like it the traditional Chinese way.

To me Asian languages seem very inefficient, as there seems to be endless discussion, what to me is a very simple thing… Some background, a few questions, and ‘outta there!’ But, not so in Asia. The same question kept being asked of me, and I finally figured out two important things… First, if the quantity isn’t large enough, they’re not interested. Secondly, I made a decision to have Ceres handle this in Shang Hai.

Having promotional T-shirts made in Xinjiang, seems problematical. I tried in Kashigar with my Uyghur friends, wanting to give them the opportunity, I have now tried in Uremqi, wanting to produce what we did in Xinjiang in Xinjiang (some kind of misplaced loyalty), but finally deciding it’s too complicated in Xinjiang. So, afterwards, and outside, I explained to Xu Tan. ‘We will let Ceres do this in Shang Hai.’

Back to the ‘Cyber Club,’ where again we couldn’t. So, on to Uncle Bob’s as described earlier, and to pick up the photographs at ‘Bai’ something Digital Video Technology,’ where I’ve had good luck before. They said they’d be ready at 1600 hours / 4P.M. B.T., but they weren’t. We had to wait an additional 25 minutes while they basically didn’t do a very good job.

But, we didn’t discover this until we returned to my hotel room. Seems Xu Tan was confused and we got .tif files versus .jpg, and someone had made a decision not to print all the exposures. So, we will return again and get right! I was a bit surprised by all this, as I had a Chinese speaker with me, and I’ve had good luck at this place before… Oh, well… On any given day!

We had poluo at my favorite little ‘stall,’ this just outside the Computer Mall. For two people 10 RMB or $1.25 U.S., including tea (of course in all Uyghur ‘restaurants’).

We’d spent some time with Liu Xiang, a young Chinese man I’d befriended the first time in Uremqi. And another example of the kind of treatment you get in China… I was looking for a ‘Net Bar.’ He stopped what he was doing and took me there, some blocks away from his place of business. I’ve never forgotten his kindness, and I stop in and see him every time I’m in Uremqi. Today, I asked about video projectors (we need one for our ‘Movie of the Week’_, and discovered they’re priced from 8 (Benq) to 16K (in focus) RMB. I need to buy something from him to repay his kindnesses.

I tried to explain to Xu Tan, after we looked at Liu’s Lenovo and Dell (Chinese made) computers that I buy ‘people,’ not ‘products.’

Thus, all and all a wonderful day in Uremqi. Again I was amazed at the size of the city! I guess I’m now used to Kashigar, one-tenth the size! But, even Kashigar is too big for me… What does this tell you…? Shang Hai out of the question more than two weeks!

I was also impressed with how ‘hip,’ a city this is, evident mostly in the way the Chinese women dress. Also, many young Chinese men, now emulating rock stars with strange hair, beads and jeans. It’s as if China is the U.S. circa. 1960… The same kind of feeling, and about to ‘burst forth!’

But, what I remember is the feeling I got the day prior with Xu Tan and his Uyghur friend, Mu Sa You Pu (an unusual name for a Uyghur). But, I found out he’s from ‘Hetian,’ (Hotan), where hundreds of years ago people invaded from India. So, they dress differently he explained. He’s also fluent in Chinese, which is unusual. An English teacher in Hotan, a student here at Xinjiang University.

But, the feeling with these two in #607, at the Yiang You Hotel… A certain kind of wonderful naivete, we don’t have in the West anymore. A respect for age, the Orient version. It was the attitude that made me thank God for the moment! These two young men, so earnest, so sincere, so without guile! Happy and laughing, appreciative of anything! So, respectful as made me feel like some kind of ‘celebrity.’ And I get this all the time. If you wonder why I live here, rather than ‘there,’ it’s easy to explain!

No, I don’t get western-style food (don’t want anyway), and there’s the language barrier. But, what I get is love and respect! You don’t get this from younger people in the West!

Yesterday, Xu Tan forever watching out for me, wanting to carrying something, always offering a chair, or a place to sit—solicitous, I guess is the word. He’s always doing things for me, so I hired him on the spot, and then had trouble paying him what amounts to $13U.S.

Asians, at least people in China… Unless beggars on the street, it’s very difficult to give them money. I had given Elia 100 Yuan before departing, and she’d barely except until I explained it was for the work she does for me! I had given another 100 to Indy (actually this a ‘gift’ for her trip). I’d left 100 Yuan for the bicycle rack. But, they just will hardly except!

This so different from the West, where not only will they accept, but they want and demand! So, again… If you wonder why I’m ‘here,’ and not ‘there,’ I’m much happier ‘here!’ I told Elia and Indy before departing, I feel ‘at home’ in Kashigar!

You can have America, I’ll take China! I don’t miss it, except for good friends!

I won’t ‘die’ in the U.S., or be ‘buried’ there. I was once ‘buried’ there, and no thanks!

27 March 2006

27 March 2006 (for Elia and her friend who asked the question: ‘What is the sense of life?’

I’m walking (at 02KM per hour) on a moving train going 80KM per hour.

The train is moving on the surface of the earth, the earth spinning at 1,600KM per hour.

The earth is ‘flying’ around the sun at 40KM per second!

The earth (the ‘spinning top’ we live on) is a part of a Galaxie (‘The Milky Way’) which is rotating at an incredible speed!

The Milky Way is moving with an expanding Universe, this also at an incomprehensible speed!

Everything is movement (action/non-action)! Everything is always changing. Here in ‘Duality’ (our ‘word existence’), everything is a cycle: night and day, the year, with the four seasons, life and death!

So, when she asked ‘Is there any sense to life?’ I have to respond, because an important question!

No, there’s no sense to (our) modern lives! But, there is a sense to something greater!

During recent times (since the ‘Industrial Age’ began in 1820) we have ‘sold our souls to the Devil,’ (German philosopher named Goethe wrote a work entitled ‘Faust’ in which this is the theme)!

We have become ‘disconnected’ to our Source, more interested in modern technology (little mobile screens) than the world in which we live! This in the quest for the superficial, money/power! We’re completed estranged from our ‘mother,’ the earth, which we are consuming for wealth (and survival). If there’s a ‘sense,’ to this, please explain! We’re lost our way! We’re out of control, the human race a ‘cancer-like’ organism destroying its ‘host’ (itself in the process). If there’s any ‘sense’ to this, I don’t know what?

What ‘sense,’ I know of, however, is beyond (modern) culture, beyond family, money, job, TV, mobile, and movies. Beyond the Internet and video games! It is the Sense of our ‘creator,’ give that ‘thing’ whatever name you like.

There is a sense to Nature! Taoists say… Observe nature, ‘reconnect!’ Get out of that cultural ‘box,’ you’re trapped in! Stop living like a robot, and responding like Pavlov’s trained dogs ‘salivating’ every time the bell (your mobile) rings! We’ve become ‘slaves’ to modern technology (me included, creating this text on a computer).

Instead of watching TV, study the starry sky at night (if your polluted environment allows). Move to a place where you can see the night sky… You ask, ‘But how am I to make a living? I can only respond by saying… If we continue down the ‘road we’re travelling,’ there will be no world in which to make a ‘living’ in!

Get out into nature and observe! Instead of moving into the cities to make money, move out of them and get closer to your ‘Mother,’ Earth! She will provide for you if you learn to live ‘her’ way (not greedy)!

Stop having so many children, as we can’t feed the ones we are having now. An example of this ‘no sense to life,’ is in Xinjiang Province, China. There are Uyghur bodies lying on the streets of Kashigar, no way to make a living (plus many beggars). Yet, the Uyghurs are allowed to have three children per married couple (when the Han Chinese are allowed only one). What sense does this make? None? There is no ‘sense’ to modern life!

But, there is a sense to Nature, where she ‘kills off’ excess, yet encourages scarcity! It’s man who has interfered, and upset the ‘balance’ (harmony).

There is no harmony in modern life, as there is no balance! We’re way out of balance, and the Hopi Elders (wise men and women from a Native American ‘Nation’ in my State of Arizona, U.S.) know this and have a word for such: ‘Koyimnasquatsi .’ In fact, filmmakers in the U.S. have produced several films about this, that we should obtain and watch! These films depict the ‘out of balance’ world in which we’re struggling to exist, one, by the way, that ‘makes no sense!’

No, there’s no sense to modern life, beyond our unconscious drive to survive. Yet, this ultimately ‘makes no sense,’ as we’re destroying ourselves in the process (by consuming the earth before it can replenish).

We need to rediscover the lessons in ‘every leaf and rock!’

I watch people… They’re so ‘caught up’ in modern ‘life’ they know little of ‘Nature,’ the ‘mother’ on which they live! They’re more interested in their little screens, or playing video games (want to be distracted so as not to have to think!).

Escape the small cultural ‘box’ you’re held ‘prisoner’ in! Start living, not just existing!

Start making ‘sense’ of your life!

We will! ‘Wo neng!’ Œ“ƒ‹

∞Æ
¡˙

P.S. For those of you interested in the tenets of Taoism, here they are:

The Way (Tao) gives birth to ‘one,’ the ‘one,’ gives birth to ‘two,’ and ‘two’ gives birth to ‘three.’ ‘Three’ gives birth to a myriad of things.

Man follows earth (or should), the earth follows heaven, and heaven follows the Way (Tao). The Way (Tao) follows Nature.

Invisible and inaudible, mystical indeed is its imperceptibility, joining the three purities: Jade, Superior, and Supreme.

Know its working, observe its profundity, pure indeed in its tranquility, forming the principle of the Way of heaven, earth and man!

The Way (Tao) is both the source and the law of all things. When there is mutual respect of both ‘subject’ and ‘object’ there is oneness!

This source gives birth to existence from non-existence, and to non-existence from existence (Duality). The union of the two in innate!

For Taoists ‘purity’ is the principle, ‘non-action’ the essence, and ‘spontaneity’ the application!

It is a life of truth, a life requiring the absence of Ego!

This, to me, is what ‘makes sense!’ (dear questioner)

It’s also another way of saying, ‘In the beginning was the word!’

For let’s face it, we create our ‘worlds’ from words… The ‘trick?’ To get beyond! This is the ‘oneness’ Taoism intimates!

We will! ‘Wo neng!’ Œ“ƒ‹

27 March 2006

27 March 2006 (for Elia and her friend who asked the question: ‘What is the sense of life?’

I’m walking (at 02KM per hour) on a moving train going 80KM per hour.

The train is moving on the surface of the earth, the earth spinning at 1,600KM per hour.

The earth is ‘flying’ around the sun at 40KM per second!

The earth (the ‘spinning top’ we live on) is a part of a Galaxie (‘The Milky Way’) which is rotating at an incredible speed!

The Milky Way is moving with an expanding Universe, this also at an incomprehensible speed!

Everything is movement (action/non-action)! Everything is always changing. Here in ‘Duality’ (our ‘word existence’), everything is a cycle: night and day, the year, with the four seasons, life and death!

So, when she asked ‘Is there any sense to life?’ I have to respond, because an important question!

No, there’s no sense to (our) modern lives! But, there is a sense to something greater!

During recent times (since the ‘Industrial Age’ began in 1820) we have ‘sold our souls to the Devil,’ (German philosopher named Goethe wrote a work entitled ‘Faust’ in which this is the theme)!

We have become ‘disconnected’ to our Source, more interested in modern technology (little mobile screens) than the world in which we live! This in the quest for the superficial, money/power! We’re completed estranged from our ‘mother,’ the earth, which we are consuming for wealth (and survival). If there’s a ‘sense,’ to this, please explain! We’re lost our way! We’re out of control, the human race a ‘cancer-like’ organism destroying its ‘host’ (itself in the process). If there’s any ‘sense’ to this, I don’t know what?

What ‘sense,’ I know of, however, is beyond (modern) culture, beyond family, money, job, TV, mobile, and movies. Beyond the Internet and video games! It is the Sense of our ‘creator,’ give that ‘thing’ whatever name you like.

There is a sense to Nature! Taoists say… Observe nature, ‘reconnect!’ Get out of that cultural ‘box,’ you’re trapped in! Stop living like a robot, and responding like Pavlov’s trained dogs ‘salivating’ every time the bell (your mobile) rings! We’ve become ‘slaves’ to modern technology (me included, creating this text on a computer).

Instead of watching TV, study the starry sky at night (if your polluted environment allows). Move to a place where you can see the night sky… You ask, ‘But how am I to make a living? I can only respond by saying… If we continue down the ‘road we’re travelling,’ there will be no world in which to make a ‘living’ in!

Get out into nature and observe! Instead of moving into the cities to make money, move out of them and get closer to your ‘Mother,’ Earth! She will provide for you if you learn to live ‘her’ way (not greedy)!

Stop having so many children, as we can’t feed the ones we are having now. An example of this ‘no sense to life,’ is in Xinjiang Province, China. There are Uyghur bodies lying on the streets of Kashigar, no way to make a living (plus many beggars). Yet, the Uyghurs are allowed to have three children per married couple (when the Han Chinese are allowed only one). What sense does this make? None? There is no ‘sense’ to modern life!

But, there is a sense to Nature, where she ‘kills off’ excess, yet encourages scarcity! It’s man who has interfered, and upset the ‘balance’ (harmony).

There is no harmony in modern life, as there is no balance! We’re way out of balance, and the Hopi Elders (wise men and women from a Native American ‘Nation’ in my State of Arizona, U.S.) know this and have a word for such: ‘Koyimnasquatsi .’ In fact, filmmakers in the U.S. have produced several films about this, that we should obtain and watch! These films depict the ‘out of balance’ world in which we’re struggling to exist, one, by the way, that ‘makes no sense!’

No, there’s no sense to modern life, beyond our unconscious drive to survive. Yet, this ultimately ‘makes no sense,’ as we’re destroying ourselves in the process (by consuming the earth before it can replenish).

We need to rediscover the lessons in ‘every leaf and rock!’

I watch people… They’re so ‘caught up’ in modern ‘life’ they know little of ‘Nature,’ the ‘mother’ on which they live! They’re more interested in their little screens, or playing video games (want to be distracted so as not to have to think!).

Escape the small cultural ‘box’ you’re held ‘prisoner’ in! Start living, not just existing!

Start making ‘sense’ of your life!

We will! ‘Wo neng!’ Œ“ƒ‹

∞Æ
¡˙

P.S. For those of you interested in the tenets of Taoism, here they are:

The Way (Tao) gives birth to ‘one,’ the ‘one,’ gives birth to ‘two,’ and ‘two’ gives birth to ‘three.’ ‘Three’ gives birth to a myriad of things.

Man follows earth (or should), the earth follows heaven, and heaven follows the Way (Tao). The Way (Tao) follows Nature.

Invisible and inaudible, mystical indeed is its imperceptibility, joining the three purities: Jade, Superior, and Supreme.

Know its working, observe its profundity, pure indeed in its tranquility, forming the principle of the Way of heaven, earth and man!

The Way (Tao) is both the source and the law of all things. When there is mutual respect of both ‘subject’ and ‘object’ there is oneness!

This source gives birth to existence from non-existence, and to non-existence from existence (Duality). The union of the two in innate!

For Taoists ‘purity’ is the principle, ‘non-action’ the essence, and ‘spontaneity’ the application!

It is a life of truth, a life requiring the absence of Ego!

This, to me, is what ‘makes sense!’ (dear questioner)

It’s also another way of saying, ‘In the beginning was the word!’

For let’s face it, we create our ‘worlds’ from words… The ‘trick?’ To get beyond! This is the ‘oneness’ Taoism intimates!

We will! ‘Wo neng!’ Œ“ƒ‹

Saturday, March 25, 2006

22 March 2006

Such contrasts we live, from the sublime to the mundane. From communing with the ‘Great Spirit,’ to seeing the worse of American culture in the form of a young man named Adam. And thus the day should be called, ‘Adam and Eve!’

‘Eve’ came in the form of Miss Hu, translating Tom White Cloud’s prayer for strength. This from English to Chinese, and for Indy’s benefit. But, what a ‘scene’ at the Café, as Native American music played in the b.g. I wish I would have had a camcorder and been able to record the moment:

A Prayer for Strength


Oh Father,
Whose voice I hear in the wind,
Whose breath gives life to all the world,
Hear me!

I come before you,
One of your many children,
Small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom!

Let my eyes behold
All the beautiful things you have created.
Make my hands respect all the things
You have made.
Make my ears sharp to hear your voice!
Make me wise so that I may
Know the things you have taught my people,
The lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock!

I seek strength Father, not to be superior
To my brothers and sisters, but
To be able to fight my greatest enemy,
Myself!

Make me every ready to come to you,
With clean hands and straight eyes, so that
When life fades like the setting sun,
My spirit may come to you without shame!


Chief Tom White Cloud
Ojibwa Native American

Indy, has this on the wall at the café, one that I’d had framed with a photograph of us sitting in ‘Haqi’s Corner!’

What is so interesting, maybe ironic to me is that the name ‘Indy,’ came from Zheng Lei’s love of Native Americans . We did not come here (Kashigar and the Indy) by chance!

The other night when I took both Indy and Elia to dinner at Orda, I showed them the Heart Stone. I explained that this had been given to me by the Dinay people on Sisnaanjani (Sierra Blanca, Colorado) to take to Mt. Kailas (‘Gan ren bu qin’ or ∏–»À≤ª«ÿ). And now we’re only, after two years of travelling, 2,000KM / 1,200 miles from Mt. Kailas. Additionally, both Elia and Tom want to cycle with me (in 2007)—great news for me (as it’s better to cycle with a native in Asia—they speak the language)!

In contrast, the arrogant, ‘know-it-all-attitude,’ of a young American named Adam! He showed up last night at KTC, ‘English Corner.’ This is a young man who knows everything, just ask him! He informed me he’s the recipient of a Watson Fellowship, described as a ‘Fulbright with steroids!’ I have no idea what he meant, nor do I care to find out (already knowing as manifested by him). On the other hand, he was a ‘hit,’ with the young Uyghur students as he can speak some Uyghur and is learning to play their music. He’s travelling the ‘Silk Road,’ from Venice all the way to Japan. He’ll be in Kashigar for three months! Good for the Uyghur students, as maybe they will learn something from him. If they do and can, it’s a positive thing!

I did learn one thing from ‘Mr. Young and Brash,’ worth knowing (there’s always some good with the bad, and some bad with the good): He’s staying in a hotel I’d never heard of, the Kashigar Guesthouse (‘big Hammer and Sickle out front’) . I’ve been here in Kashigar five months now, and no one ever told me about this Hotel near the Bazar. But, enough of the negative, as now (for the remainder of my life) I only want to dwell on the positive!

‘You gotta accent the positive, eliminate the negative,’ the song goes! Remember? Maybe the older ones…? Maybe even Marty?

And speaking of the positive I just found out today that the Tom White Cloud ‘A Prayer for Strength’ has been translated into Chinese! I need to convey this to him, to them, back there in Oklahoma, where the Ojibwa, their descendants are still (I hope)! Just think… The ‘meek,’ the generous, the kindly, are inheriting the earth!

It will be the Anglo Saxon that vanishes hopefully! My people! We are the scrourge of the earth! Woe be unto us!

Last night, our second weekly ‘Movie of the Week,’ this ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ that Indy happened to have. We had technical difficulties, as the Chinese woman who brings the video projector (from work) was ill. Indy had to go and fetch the ‘machine,’ but without the computer normally used. Thus, she and Hu couldn’t get their computers to work with the projector. But, Indy played the movie on her own computer and five Chinese showed (including Hu and colleague). Interestingly, Elaine, from KTC, came with two Chinese ‘boys.’

This is a movie (researched earlier in the day via the Internet) with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, the two leads! The theme about ‘overcoming, persevering, against all odds!’ The ‘weak,’ depicted by the old actor (whose name escapes me at the moment), succumb (he commits suicide when being faced with challenge—life on the outside). This in a scene, where the director (a first timer) missed the boat! The character (old man) in charge of the prison library, having a black crow as a pet (just like in the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz ’), hangs himself. Gosh, what an opportunity for a metaphor, using his pet crow. But, no bird! No spirit transmigration!

On the downside, too many words, as was narrated (by the Morgan character) in addition to dialogue. I’m beginning to notice that too many ‘Hollywood,’ movies are ‘word driven,’ rather than ‘picture driven!’ But, in this case maybe the fault of Stephen King, who wrote the short story based on (something having to do with Rita Hayworth ). He’s basically a novel writer, not a screenwriter.

And yet another amazing thing happened last night at Indy’s… I’m sitting there watching this movie when Elia walks up and hands me the package (from Ceres in Shang Hai), we’d been looking for, for weeks! Inside all the English books I’d bought to start our library here in Kashigar.

Ironically, one of the tasks, the Tim character has in the movie is obtaining books for the prison library. He writes letter after letter until he’s successful! I can relate to this on several levels. Here is the theme of ‘perseverance,’ something I’ve been known to have. So, I realize, after all my friends have failed me (many offered to send books), that I must continue to persevere, and I (we) will succeed! Already, we have six, and some good ones, including ‘The Good Earth,’ by Pearl S. Buck, and ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ ‘In the wings,’ ‘Soul Mountain.’ I also have a book of ‘Chinese Maxims.’ Of course, I’m after ‘The Great Game!’ so if anyone out there acts, rather than talks, please send!

I visited the Kashigar Public Library with Payzullah and Yasin one day, and interesting… Kinda like the library in ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’ Small (one room), with no books! No English books, not one, for sure!

Wake up! Kashgarians! No, they’re too busy playing games, or fixated on their little screens! To busy rushing about chasing the new God, money! They want that TV set, that automobile, that woman, that man, that whatever… Got to have, as that’s what I saw in the AD! They’ve been ‘captured’ and are now consuming everything they stand for! Capitalism sucks, but it’s all we’ve got!

And this folks, may be my last ‘dosage,’ for a few days, or weeks… Tomorrow I’m departing for Uremqi, this to meet Rotraut Boyens on April 1st. But, who knows, as I’m taking Mr. Tos. With me!

In the meantime, I trust you’ll amuse yourselves in some other productive endeavor! Like watching ‘The Shawshank Redemption!’ I can recommend it, as uplifting!

Ironically, the Chinese viewers last night, all got bored, and when we had to change diskettes, that ‘got out the back, Jack!’ I thought this interesting. How can one watch only part of a movie? Because they weren’t following it (understand) in English. Or, maybe short attention spans…? We probably need English movies with Chinese subtitles!

Or, maybe it has to do with perseverance…?

Monday, March 20, 2006

20 March 2006 – Vernal Equinox Eve!

I sit in the Everson’s Coffee Restaurant, eating ‘#20’ on the menu, ‘zhao fan’ (fried rice with shrimp and egg) and Louis Armstrong comes over the speakers singing, ‘It’s a wonderful world!’

It certainly is for me, this the time of my life, free and with enough RMB to live well. But, I wonder about others, particularly Uyghur men standing around with no job, no income, nothing to do and no future…? For them it’s not ‘a wonderful world!’

Then on comes ‘Winter Wonderland.’ ‘In the lane, snow (‘yue’ ‘¬? in Chinese) is glistening!’ Here the dust is ‘glistening!’ Ah, the sharp contrast in capitalism between something they want to sell you, and reality! Here we can build a ‘dust man!’ this time of year (March).

Ah, the ‘Ides of March,’ have come true in Kashigar, in terms of the weather… The dust storm came and brought colder weather. They had been saying so strange, the warmer weather so early. Not only that but they’ve turned off the ‘kai shui’ ø™ÀÆ ? (hot water) because of the calendar (Spring is technically here). So, at the moment, it’s colder inside than out!

Speaking of capitalism, we’re building bicycle racks. This to help promote cycling, and of course the entities, like The Indy, that paid for… This is called investment! This is called spending to get!

Like what we’re doing with www.makemagictogether.com . We’re investing time and resources in this business to make ‘magic!’ And the ‘magic’ we speak of is what young people will ‘create’ with our guidance, a way of empowering them.

First step, a WEB site… And now I’m discussing such with Chinese WEB designers via Ceres (Zhou Yali) in Shang Hai. This should be interested as so far we can’t even get packages from Shang Hai to Kashigar…

I always ask young people when we fail at small tasks, ‘If we can do that, then how can we expect to do the more complicated?’ Generally speaking, they have no answer!

Think! Think! Think! Details! Details! Details! Anticipate! Anticipate! Anticipate! Ask yourself this question… ‘What if…? What if the packages don’t get to Kashigar? What if Ms. Boyens is not on the airplane from Frankfort? What if we pay 5,000RMB and don’t get a WEB site? What if…? Don’t just assume!!!

I have three rules in business, if only I could remember them when making a decision…

1) Assume nothing!
2) Trust no one, not even your parents, to know everything!
3) Check details at least twice!

Don’t assume!
Don’t assume!
Don’t assume!

This should be inculcated on young brains! I’m going to have signs printed for all our physical facilities (at www.makemagictogether.com ). And this will be one of them students ‘see’ everywhere they turn!

What if the bicycle racks don’t create business? What if…? We’ll plant vines around, and create works of art!

Always have options in business! Always have options when travelling! And not a bad idea for your lives! What if, I don’t get the job I want? What if my lover marries another wo/man? What if…?

‘Don’t assume!’ What is this in Chinese?

For example, I will look in my English-Chinese-Pinyin Dictionary. Of course, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to come up with the correct characters (via the Pinyin):

This makes my Chinese language lesson of the day:

‘Don’t’ (the negative in Chinese daunting…): Not in the dictionary…?
My ‘Mandarin’ phrase book says: Something about ‘boo,’ and pronounced with a rising tone?

So, ‘boo’…

The Pinyin word for ‘assume,’ is ‘danren.’ (with accents I can’t reproduce on my English-speaking computer).

So, ‘boo danren,’ or via my IME converter/computer (‘Chinese Simplified’):

≤®≈∂µ£»Œ! But, I’ll bet this has a 99% chance of being incorrect?

Chinese friends, please correct and tell me how I come up with, ‘Don’t assume!’ in Chinese?

I ‘don’t assume’ I’m correct here!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

10 March 2006

‘Just love!’

We (the ‘1,2,3, Group’) returned to our school in the Uyghur Village (about 70 KM southwest of Kashigar) today. The same bus, the same Uyghur bus driver as in last December. But, I’d started out thinking we were going to a different school!

Either Indy or Miss Hu, had told me it was a ‘different school’ than last December, but it turned out to be the same one, with different students, the faculty looking different and thus confusing me! The other Chinese in the group had said nothing, just assuming… Why? They can’t speak English well enough to explain, and the only English speaker, Ms. Hu, hadn’t been with us on the first trip. Indy hadn’t gone on the first trip in December either. So maybe that’s where the confusion began… But, it turned out to be the same school that we had visited last December!

This is the thing about living in another culture… Getting correct information. Even in my own culture getting accurate information is difficult, but in another… Almost impossible! But, it’s tough to fool me ultimately, as I have such a good memory for things seen/experienced. Things I hear disappear quickly…

We went up the same highway, off #314, heading south toward the Pamir Range (oh what a view of these 7K-meter, snow-covered mountains)… What confused me about which school and where we were going, was I’d forgotten about a village you have to go through to get to ‘ours.’ But, we did, and then went on to ‘ours, and turned left on the same road, just like before! The only difference, and what fooled me, was the different faculty…? Could this be possible? Afterwards we went into a different classroom, so I missed Marx and Mao’s pictures in the other from December (to confirm)!

But, it all began to dawn on me later when we pulled into the same Government complex in the same village, and attended the same weekend Bazar (Saturday).

Living in another culture where you can’t speak the language is like being in a dream. It is kinda real, but like a mystery you have to solve when you ‘awaken.’ Certainly today was like that!

There were more students outside the ‘old school’ this time! They must have heard about the last time we visited and passed out gifts (in December)! Today, it wasn’t as cold as in December, naturally… Spring has come to the Taskurgan (foothills of the Pamir and Kunlun ranges).

The children, the look of joy on their faces, oh… This is what I must write about (also see the photographs at www.cyclingpeace.org / Gallery)! To see and feel this kind of happiness, tugged at my heart—so simple! Just love!

We passed out school supplies, paint sets and paper, soccer balls, candy and clothing. I had brought a bag of ‘odds and ends,’ five packages of fruit candy, passing out one piece to as many children as five packages included. Someone got a good pair of trekking and ‘sweat’ pants, and two new scarves (stuff I didn’t need nor want). There were shoes to pass out, as someone remembered about their worn out shoes (from last time).

Afterwards the children performed for us, singing a song, and then dancing! Some of the Chinese joined in… I hope that got that on ‘video!’

For every Chinese person in this group there is a camera, most digital. Thus, when we go on an ‘outing’ each ‘captures’ one hundred images in the course of. Thus, there are thousands from each outing, and some of these up-to-date devices record ‘real time’ motion.

Then departing on our bus… All the children came to see us off, lining up on the road to wave goodbye. If I heard the words, ‘Thank you!’ (their own ‘Rackmet’ in Uyghur) once I must have heard it hundred times! I’ll never forget this moment!

If I could sum up my entire life it would be about today, playing ‘Santa Claus’ at a remote Uyghur village in Xinjiang Province, China—near the Pamir mountains! This is what matters to me!

Then we drove on through the ‘adobe’ countryside (so many shades of brown in south Xinjiang, I’ll have to invent names: chocolate, tan, beige, and a hundred shades of brown). It is no wonder that people’s favorite color, in this part of the world, is green! We first drove to a hilltop for a view of the Pamir, then on to Opal to have lunch.

But, the Pamir Range this morning, I’ve never seen before like this, so close! I hope some of the photographs give you some idea as to the stunning nature of these mountains, and not that far from Kashigar (maybe 100KM to the southwest). I’ve been seeing them in the distance in the early morning recently, cranking to my Net Bar! But, today, ‘up close and personal!’ It’s why I live here, and not in Shang Hai (the ‘New Orleans’ of China—complete with large French community)!

And to be a part of this Chinese ‘1,2,3 Group’ (including Indy and Miss Hu) and go to this Uyghur school this morning… To make the children happy, this is my life worth living!

‘Just love!’

P.S. On the way back to Kashigar on our chartered bus, I observed the Chinese children (two girls and one boy) play together—‘just love.’ There’s none of the pathology in these Chinese children as I have seen in American children. Why? Chinese culture hasn’t developed to the degree as American culture… China, in 2006, is like American was in 1955. People, particularly the Chinese children of the ‘upscale,’ still aren’t spoiled. But, I lament for them, as I know what’s coming to China… I’m just glad I’m here now, and not in fifty years!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

08 March 2006

My life is so ‘rich,’ it’s hard to convey, and when I say ‘rich,’ I mean varied as in variegated. So much ‘richness,’ in terms of life, of culture, of experience, I’m overwhelmed at times. And this is one of those times!

Forty years ago an astrologer told me, via my horoscope that, the end of my life would be the best of times, and such has come true! So, when people denigrate western astrology, I simply think they’ve ‘cut off,’ another way to access the universe!

Most people live is such tiny ‘boxes!’ I live in a very large circle! You don’t have to believe, all you have to be is open! Nobody really knows! We think we ‘no!’

Rene Descartes, four hundred years ago said, ‘I think therefore I am!’ And such is true! But…

Be not fixed
On some idea,
Notion,
All is motion
Changing,
Rearranging!

Adapt,
Become rapt,
In
Metamorphosis;
Insist!

We do not ‘no,’
Only so and ‘sow,’
To reap the dough!

Be not fixed,
Up mixed,
We cling,
To the ring of the bell,
The ‘cell!’

But, do not sell,
Everything
You stand for!

Be not fixed!

How could I possibly describe living in Xinjiang, China, particularly Kashigar…

Like tonight at English Corner on the campus of Kashgar Teachers College…
The smiling, shy students wanting to know the American, making me feel like a celebrity of sorts, just because I speak a language they want to learn! So, curious, so naïve, all trying so hard! They’re all respectful and kind!

I’m living a dream!

And so much has happened in the last couple of days. First trekking in the mountains with the ‘1,2,3’ Group, and secondly looking at a flat (apartment in America) to rent.

First on Sunday, I almost didn’t get to go on this ‘outing,’ to the shan (mountains in Chinese) with our group, as I confused the two times used in this town; Beijing Time and ‘Local’ or Xinjiang Time (two hours earlier). I ‘ve written about this, and how confusing it is: You must always ask people which time they’re referring to. But, it escaped me when they told me to meet at the Indy Café at 0820, thinking X.T., when I should have been thinking B.T. In fact, they were thinking 0620. Additionally, Miss Hu, had said we’d take a taxi at 0815 to the Indy, but it didn’t ‘dawn’ (literally) on me until awaking that morning at 0530 X.T. (as my watch and mind are set on ‘Local’ or ‘Xinjiang’ Time) that was 0615 on my watch. So, I was suddenly two hours behind schedule.

So, then how did it come to pass, that I arrived ten minutes early? It has to do with organization and preparation! I had prepared and pre-packed the night before. But, did I scurry about like the Mad Hatter, with only thirty minutes to get ready. I don’t like to rush, but I did that morning, but even fixing and drinking my morning tea. But, I was out on the street to meet for Miss Hu by 0605 B.T. (are you confused?). In fact, had to wait for her.

When living in another culture/language, participating with the people in that culture you are regularly surprised with the turn of events. Sunday, and going on this trip was no exception. We were to take the train to a village, two hours north of Kashigar (on the way to Aqsu, on the way to Uremqi). But, beyond that, and the information we wouldn’t be returning until 2300 hours BEIJING TIME, I knew little. They tell you little, or can’t as in different language. So, you learn to anticipate, and to be prepared for anything. Most of all you’re not surprised when things change!

But, I wasn’t prepared for the number of people going, or that there would be children along. When we arrived at the train station, I was shocked to see so many! I had thought maybe a dozen, but turned out the total number was thirty. This included three girls, 9 to 12 years of age. And an excited group they were! Me, I rarely get excited about anything—must be my age! Although I’m excited about mine and Rotraut’s trip to the Taklimakan Desert in April! Now, only three weeks away!

One thing about China and the Chinese right now (circa 2006), most of the people are happy, as in having a good time! They gab, joke, and laugh much! I can jump ahead, and tell you, outside of one of the girls crying (someone had played a joke on her), there was nothing to mar the entire day!

I had brought my backpack and camera, but some of the young men had huge packs (25KGs. / 55lbs.). But, everyone was prepared, including the young Chinese man who had organized this outing (a great guy who dotes on me—I need to remember his name!). He took care of everything, all I had to do was follow Miss Hu and Indy (always solicitous of my needs).

Once on the train, food was offered, a ‘video’ introduction organized, the sun rising over the poplar trees out my window (see photographs in the gallery). I sat with Zheng Lei (‘Indy’), while Miss Hu stole away to nap (our car not full). Turned out Indy napped and Miss Hu danced about full of energy. I was happy to look out the window, at the countryside awakening to a new day.

The train trip took two hours, just like advertised, and suddenly we were getting off in a village called… something like ‘Shikar?’ It’s on one of the reservoirs on the north side of the Taklimakan Desert. I thought I recognized this village as one of Mamat and my sleeping towns on the way down from Uremqi last October. I think it was the village, the night before Artush—‘Day 17’ (check out photographs now uploaded at www.cyclingpeace.org / gallery.

No platform here, we got off onto the rocked ‘bed’ (as the Chinese careful about construction). We waited for the train to depart and then walked over the tracks and into this Uyghur village.

We followed our ‘leader,’ who marched us through the village, across Highway #314 (Mamat and I had cycled), and were shortly hiking up into the ‘shan.’ At some point, we stopped, while our ‘fearless leader,’ laid down some ground rules (the Chinese are organized). I think he said something like, ‘Stay with the group and don’t get lost!’

Have you ever gone on a hiking outing with 30 Chinese people (3 of which are young girls)? I just hope I get to see the ‘video.’ Very interesting, but not unlike something similar with Americans (although there would be more complaining).

These Chinese, the ones in the ‘1,2,3’ Group are all digital camera ‘bugs,’ and I’m sure enough images were ‘captured,’ enough ‘video rolled,’ to make a two-hour documentary. Not only that, but they’re good ‘photographers!’ I’ve been impressed with the images I’ve seen (previous trips)! I thought I was the only one, but no, these people are good! In fact, I’ve thought of using this group as the ‘production crew’ if and when we’re able to produce some kind of motion picture here (have ideas, will…?).

But, I’m the only one with a 35MM film camera! Hey, old-fashion I guess—again, my age.

I wish I could remember everything that happened that day, but just be satiated with the knowledge, I enjoyed the day outside in nature immensely! To be in any mountains (‘tagh’ in Uyghur, ‘shan’ in Chinese) is ‘heaven’ to me! The weather was perfect, clear, sunny, but cool.

I remember at one rest point, asking Miss Hu (the only English speaker) if anyone of the group knew anything about the geology of the area. Turns out our ‘leader,’ does, but I never was able to find out, as I don’t speak Chinese!

I can tell you as ‘shan’ go, these mountains are very barren, bereft of practically any vegetation (my kind of terrain). I think I can compare this area with the Big Bend National Park in far West Texas. Here, however, not so much in the way of cactus. I noticed only one little low-lying plant half dead from the lack of moisture. This may be the driest, most barren place I’ve ever been on earth! I think Miss Hu compared it to the ‘moon!’ You can tell from the photographs, of course.

We hiked up a ravine, a ‘canyon,’ (‘xiagu’ in Chinese, but without the accent marks to pronounce correctly) which became progressively more narrow, and challenging, until we had to do some minor rock climbing with the help of a belay (rope). Without a rope it would have been daunting, and especially so for the children. The women climbed up it as well as the men. Chinese women, much like American women in this regard, physically able—maybe more so.

I think we had to use the rope three different times, the highest ‘wall,’ maybe three meters / 10 to 12 feet up.

The ‘xiagu’ finally shrunk to only two meters wide with walls 100 meters high (ran out of film by now). But, ultimately we were thwarted in a ‘room,’ where to continue would have meant some serious rock climbing up fifty meters. So, we turned around and retraced our steps, now the pace quickening, as the ‘horse-back-to-the-barn’ syndrome. People were getting tired.

One of the interesting things that happened… Two young Chinese men, hip to western lingo said, That was a ‘piece of cake!’ This made me laugh, as another example of how powerful American culture is (via media). They love to emulate these slang sayings they hear in movies. But, when they asked me was ‘ripped’ meant, I was hard pressed to explain.

Imagine being ten kilometers / six miles up in some of the most barren and remote country in the world, only to discover the word ‘ripped,’ painted on a rock. Some western trekkers had been there and smoked marijuana (or taken some other drug), and written, as kids do, their exploits for all to witness later! The two Chinese boys wanted to know what it meant, this English word, ‘ripped,’ but I diverted their attention to, ‘Oh, look at that!’

Speaking of words, I learned some more Chinese! Not the Chinese version of ‘ripped,’ but ‘be careful’ in Chinese, or ‘xiao sheng!’ Several times I’d heard this during out hike. Literally translated ‘xiao sheng’ means ‘small heart!’

This gave me an idea to write a book about the Chinese language entitled, ‘Chinese, the language of Homophones.’ Now, I’m collaborating on this with my Chinese friend, James Zhu in Gansu Province (via Internet). Note, we chat every morning via gmail.com Join in, if you wish—write the book with us.

Back in the village about 1600 hours B.T., most of the group went to a local ‘restaurant’ to eat. Indy, Miss Hu, and I hiked to the reservoir, to commune with nature. I think they were drawn to water, as so little in south Xinjiang—we’re talking ‘bone dry!’ They had borrowed camping pads from two of the men and spread them out to nap on. I sat and meditated on a rock. I like to be in direct contact with Mother Earth.

It was a quiet and peaceful afternoon (Indy fell asleep), while I listened to some ducks quacking across the water, and observed small fish jump up to catch flies. There were some spiders scurrying about over the dusty ground. Behind us on the ‘dam’ road an occasional motor vehicle (you can hardly get away from them anywhere on the globe) passed by. But, otherwise, profound silence, until…

…here came the group, having had lunch! Ah, more people, talking, disturbing the quiet…

I would say that all the people in Asian have ‘verbal diarrhea!’ They just can’t be quiet! Too much talking, yelling, and noise of all kinds!

Oh, well after the usual pleasantries, I ambled on down the ‘beach,’ looking to get away from such. They understand, my Chinese friends, as they think it has to do with the fact I don’t understand their language (so why listen to?).

Indy followed… She’s different, or was vexed that day, seemingly wanting not to participate, but just relax. I found out later she’s stressed from operating her business.

The train was departing at 1920 hours B.T., so off we went about 45 minutes prior, this interesting group of 29 Chinese people in colorful gear, and one American (all the Uyghurs stopped to partake of this ‘circus’ which had come to their town). It turned out to be a pretty good walk along the tracks, probably three kilometers to the station. This station nothing like the one in Kashigar, or the other cities, one building, but not open to passengers.

We waited outside for the train, which seemed never to come. I watched the evening sunlight electrifying the various shades of brown on the hills we had just come out of… See the photographs at www.cyclingpeace.org / Gallery.

The train ride back to Kashigar, even more interesting as it was full of Uyghur people taking this ‘slow’ (less expensive) train to various towns, or ultimately to Kashigar. We were the ‘hit of the show,’ especially the American. After getting on board we had to ‘walk the gauntlet,’ some five cars to where we found some seats. I felt somewhat embarrassed, the Uyghur people examining our wealth (the trekking clothing and gear) as we stumbled past. What must they think, I wondered?

I ended up sitting across from one, good-looking Uyghur boy, and with three Chinese woman including Indy.

The Uyghur ‘boy,’ keep pulling sunflower seeds (they love) out of his pocket and throwing the shells on the floor (which a Chinese female attendant chastised him for later). Additionally, it was stuffy in the car so the Chinese women, next to me, ordered the window open (I was sitting next to). But, the wind, once the train picked up speed, chilled the Uyghur boy, pulling the curtain around him. I wondered if the Chinese women noticed or cared…? No!

You have to understand that the Chinese are to the Uyghur (indigenous minority) as the white man is to the black man in the U.S. But, in Xinjiang, this is ‘circa. 1950’s America!’ ‘White only!’

I shook the Uyghur man’s hand and gave him a cherry tomato that one of our group had offered. I don’t want anyone to think I’m better than them… I’m not!

Later, I ordered the window be closed when I saw the boy suffering (from the cold).

Most talked, some slept. I observed the sun setting on the mountains.

I remember the Chinese woman next to me, aghasted when I told her I wasn’t married or had no children! She roared with amazement!

Chinese women just can’t believe it, how could I not be married? How in the world could I possibly survive? Very well, thank you! I have the same explanation for all Asians, when so aghasted about such: ‘My family is just a little larger than yours! It includes all the people of the world, including you! My country is just a little larger than yours, as it includes all the countries of the world!’ Duh… Of course, it doesn’t compute!

It was dark when we arrived back at the station in Kashigar. I ended up in bed about 2300 hours, just like predicted, the rest of the younger people going to the Indy Café for a postmortem. I remember how that used to be when their age… You never want the good times to end! I wanted to go to bed, although not overly tired. I think the only damage was a blister on one of my toes, as I haven’t hiked that far in some time. And I have tender feet!

The next day, Indy took me to see the flat (apartment) she thought I might be interested in rented (now that the Kashigar police have ‘O.K.’d’ such).

It turned out to be something I was interested in, 137-square meters / 1,500 square feet, six rooms, on the 5th floor (no elevators in these apartment buildings). It had everything I need, with enough room for ‘Tom,’ and Rotraut (for one month only), two bathrooms, three bedrooms, small kitchen, however. It was bright, with both southern and northern exposure. All of this for 600RMB or $75U.S. per month. But, this was the first flat I’ve seen, and I wanted to see more to compare. It wasn’t the price! This would have rented in CS for $800-1,000U.S. per (but with more amenities).

Additionally, the second day when I got down to details, not only was the total price (including all the utilities) twice as much ($150U.S.), she (the husband out of town) wouldn’t clean the place (for 100RMB) before I moved in. So, they lost a 12,000RMB (total for one year) deal because they wouldn’t spend 100RMB. This is how stupid people are!

And it wasn’t the money I was concerned about, but their (her) attitude. I know from much experience with landlords, that if they won’t compromise on small things, they’re not my kind of landlord. Had it been me, I certainly would have cleaned it, and done others things for potential renters, like have hot water in the kitchen (didn’t have, but in China they don’t usually)—I had mentioned this. Oh, no impossible, except in the winter when they feed the radiators for heat!

It’s no mystery to me why some people are $ poor, or have trouble! Inflexible!

But, all works out, as I’ve since decided I want a ‘business-like’ place on the ground, something like the Indy Café. This so I can open an English Library and where the English Corner School can be located.

So, now Indy (and English-speaking employee, Ah Yin, is looking for a ‘business place’ for me.

In the meantime, I’ve learned a little bit about renting in China, in Kashigar in particular. Such experience is valuable, as with the next I will know what to expect, what’s possible, what isn’t.

I had told Ay Yin, and Indy, if I had my wish I would live in a Uyghur ‘compound’ (farmhouse) out in the country. Of course, this amazes them! Although they’re beginning to understand that I’m different!

I’ve always been different!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

02 March 2006 The Daily Dosage

March came in like a ‘lamb,’ thus watch out around the 1st of April… Lion time—in this part of the world! Just about the time that Rotraut should be landing at the Uremqi airport! But, I always like to check out, reconfirm that these ‘folk tales,’ are true! Generally, clichés are, lest they not be!

Now, however, Spring like… I was telling Ah Yim today about ‘Spring Fever!’ That love is ‘in the air!’ That, the birds are building nests. And she wondered, ‘Where is my lover?’ I know where mine is! Maybe I’ll produce a ‘bumper sticker’ that reads: ‘Know where your lover is?’

Living in Asia is ‘crazy,’ that’s the only way I can describe it, from a western point of view at least. Particularly, China so overrun with people (although they don’t even notice it!).

Today walking… Just hordes of people everywhere, going this way, going that way; walking, running, riding bicycles, driving trucks, buses, automobiles, backing up, turning around, whistling, singing, talking, talking, talking, honking, and on motorbikes, scooters, and donkey carts! It’s madness they think normal! But, you can’t explain, it doesn’t compute!

The traffic here a combination of ‘Demo Derby,’ ‘Dodge Ball,’ and ‘Chicken!’ Uyghur people don’t know green from red, how to flush the toilet, or show up on time.

Today, riding back to the Xinibagh Hotel, I was almost impaled by a rod, something long and stout, this carried by a woman riding on the back of a motor bike. It was at least five meters long! There’s no such thing as ‘courtesy’ on the streets, it’s every person for him/herself! It you’re killed, you must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time! Next!

A startling statistic… 3,000 people are killed everyday on the highways and streets of China. I guess a way of helping to keep the population in check, as if it were!

How much sense does it make to restrict the Han Chinese to one child when the minorities, the Uyghurs get to have three. So, the least able to provide, the least educated get to have the most children; yet more than they can’t feed! Mankind, never makes any sense! At least to me, maybe to you!

Yet, in some ways it’s charming, China, countries in Asia like Nepal, particularly the people who are so warm and friendly, naïve people who can’t seem to imagine you’re ‘different!’ Thus, they check out, follow your every move! Note, here in Kashigar, both Uyghur, Chinese, and other nationalities like Ali, my Pakistani friend.

Today, I gave the veiled (beggar) women photographs of themselves I’d secretly taken through the windows (while eating at Rohlans). ‘Rackmet!’ Rackmet! (‘Thank you! Thank you!’) was the cry! I’ll bet they have few photographs of themselves! And if there’s any ‘icebreaker,’ or way to give to them, it’s a photograph of themselves. Everybody wants one!

Except, that is, the limbless man, who asked me not to. Even limbless people can be vain! Note, I had thought of making him some kind of ‘poster boy,’ soliciting donations! Oh well, you’ll have to imagine!

Before eating lunch at Rohlans I’d gone to the Bank of China to withdraw funds, update my bank book, and say ‘Ni hao!’ to my friend Zhang Lei. She’s the English speaker, at the Bank that had been so helpful to me when I had my ‘debit card’ problem (back in November). So, to repay I had my photograph (the one with Mao) enlarged, framed and inscribed (‘With best wishes,’ etc. in Chinese), and had this present delivered to her.

Now, here is an interesting personal situation… She’s not unattractive in her masculine uniform with tie (they all wear at the Bank). If I were twenty-years younger, and not a ‘CTM,’ I would ‘ask her out on a date!’ But, 98% of all Chinese women are married by this age. So, I’ve been reticent even to give her a gift (so easy to offend if you don’t know the local customs). On the other hand, she keeps telling me how ‘handsome’ I am! This I have thought kind of strange, as she’s all of forty-years of age, if that, and I’m old enough to be her father! Yet, again today, many ‘handsomes,’ and then asking me for my telephone number. So, what to do…? Nothing, of course, and then ultimately to explain, if it ever gets to that point! I’d be amazed if she called me!

Some interesting news face to face today at the bank, Miss (or Mrs?) Zhang had for me… This besides repeating that debit cards are a problem, while credit cards O.K. According to her this is not a great time of year to be in Kashigar, as it’s the ‘dust and dirty,’ season! Best time, July through November, or late summer and Fall.

And it is, she is right, dry, dry, dry, and dusty! Today with the sun, I ‘soaked up’ dust as well! This is the kind of dust they have in the Kathmandu Valley too, which I am not fond of… Like talcum powder so fine. But, here now, it’s either mud or this very fine dust!

I was thinking today… Since becoming ‘celibate,’ women seem more attracted to me… What I want to know is, where were they twenty years ago, when I was a veritable ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing?’ Women can ‘sense’ things…

I am going to tell Payzullah, who’s having ‘girlfriend troubles,’ that women have a way of testing your commitment! A way of ‘keeping you on the line!’ A way of ‘tightening that noose!’ Also, a way of avoiding ‘wolves!’ Now, that I’m a ‘sheep,’ I’m in big demand! Could it be because I’m in ‘Uyghur Land?’ (inside joke!)

Then on to Indy’s Café and meeting the Elder Kashigar Cyclers! I had planned to go with them today, out riding somewhere, until I got the telephone call from Kurt Wang in the morning. I had Ah Yim write a note in Chinese to them, explaining I wouldn’t be able to go, but for sure on Saturday. They were all glad to see me, such kind people! I shook hands with most, and made eye contact with the rest. I also gave Mr. Lu the photographs from the past two outings with them. These are such kind and genuine people, the kind that melt my heart! It’s hard to explain. Nothing so moves me like genuine kindness!

Also, Indy invited me to go with the ‘1,2,3 group,’ an outdoor adventure of sorts on Sunday. Something about taking the train somewhere, then an automobile back, but not returning until 2300 hours (11P.M.). I’m still deciding about this one, as this isn’t really my ‘cup of lu cha!’ Riding with a group, etc. staying out late, this kind of thing wears me out! Cycling 150KM takes less energy, but hard to explain. But, I will probably go, as a good opportunity to know them better, and learn more about the country side. In fact, an opportunity to get ‘out there!’

I tried to explain that when I go ‘out there,’ I want to commune with nature, to ‘talk’ to the birds, to remain silent. Young people, and these are all younger than me, organize these ‘outings’ as a social event (which I can understand, as I did too at their age). But, when older, things change, at least they have for me! Going into nature for me is a spiritual event!

Kurt arrived at Indy’s right on time (a good sign) and we went off in a taxi to the Police.

I’ve been dealing with the local Kashigar government ever since I arrived in here on October 21st, now four months ago. I’ve been trying to get permission to live out of a hotel, in a private ‘flat’ (apartment). If you’re a foreigner, you can’t just live anywhere (only approved hotels). But, my plan has worked, getting Kurt Wang involved.

Today he called while I was online at the Net Bar! Amazingly I could hear him (all the yelling in the b.g.)! He said I was to go to the Police and register! But, I knew it wouldn’t work without some Chinese friend along. I first mentioned Xhao Xu, but then ended up asking him to accompany me. Now, how many westerners with an important job, would drop what they’re doing and help a person from another country? Not even me! But, he did! And it’s these kinds of gestures that balance out all ‘the shit,’ and make living here in Kashigar, Xinjiang Province, China, possible.

Anyway, we went to the right ‘Foreign Department’ office (as there are more than one); he said the right things; I smiled at the right time; I stood and shook hands with the right uniforms, and it worked! Even Kurt was impressed, saying ‘this is simple!’ And what I already knew was proven yet again to me… Spiritual Time. Things happen at the right moment for the right reasons.

The instructions… Rent a house, then register at the local police department! As simple as that! I think we were both amazed, all of it taking ten minutes! Later Ah Yim said that they, ‘recognized me.’ Maybe she’s right, ‘good PR,’ does work! My photograph has been in the newspapers. They know I’m not a Christian missionary (God forbid)!

So, now I’m excited! Now, I can move into my own place, lock the door, not be intruded upon. I can have my own rugs, furniture, maybe even my own telephone line (for the Internet). Of course, my fantasy is a house on the ground just like the one I had in Kathmandu (but this one hopefully with a hot water shower that works). If I end up in such, I will praise Allah! I’ll be right at home!

You have to understand that an American-styled house (on the ground) is only affordable by very rich people in China. Or, here in Xinjiang Province, the Uyghur farmers (have an abobe ‘house’ on the ground). Most Chinese live in apartments in massive concrete structures! There reminding me of ‘Levitt Town,’ on Long Island.

I’d actually like to own a Uyghur ‘compound’ (house), although I’d probably fix it up a bit, add some amenities like hot water plumbing, electricity, and a telephone line! I guess I haven’t made it out of ‘modernity’ yet! I’ve also talked about fixing up a Kazak yurt.

Then after returning to the Xinibagh, having locked Ms. Fiets to the railing, here appears Abdul, for the second time in two days. Note, he’s one of two young Uyghur boys I cycled with up to Opal in December.

Abdul reappeared in my life yesterday, just showing up at #324. Uyghur and Nepali people, much alike… Always full of surprises. But, this is a good kid, so earnest and trying so hard! Again, this kind of genuine naivete I respond to… And I’ll try to help this kid! Particularly after hearing his families’ story… Seems hard times have befallen them. Now, to try and make money they’ve open a small shop right outside the Xinibagh Hotel (gosh, what a bad idea… Yet, another shop in a veritable million of others, and all similar!). That’s how he knew I was back and living in the Xinibagh, he’s seen me cycling in and out of the gate!

He wants desperately to go to an English-speaking country like Australian, Canada, or the U.S. Anybody out there, want a Uyghur boy named, Abdul? He can cook ‘poluo!’ He speaks pretty good English too, thus I have hope for him. Today, in his shop he was teaching a younger Uyghur boy English from a bad book (I caught two errors). I’m going to find him a better book!

I have such a love/hate relationship with these people, people in less-developed countries (like Xinjiang. Note, eastern China like the U.S.)! One moment I’m cursing them on the street for being stupid, the next trying to help them!

‘God,’ what to do?

‘Endless Acts of Compassion!’ Hank!