20070421

why didn't my pre-school have swords?


Not even the wildest imagination can do China justice. Things here are consistently beyond the realm of the conceivable boundaries...or whatever I understand my imagination to be. Whenever I expect something to be a certain way, even if I am pushing limits, boundaries are broken. I am consistently baffled. Baffled is not even the word. There are no words, no categories no communication tools that I know of to explain this. But it is nice to know that things like this are out there. Challenging me over and over again to restructure the way I think, understand and see the world. And it just keeps happening. Over and over again.

This is my trip to Henan province. I traveled here yi ge ren for 4 days. The center of China. No English. Fighting to communicate at every moment. Stories and adventures. They will come in time but first there were little red dots.

Thousands of them. Stretching beyond infinity across the vast landscape of Shaolin. Order and chaos aligned. Questions and solutions. Pain and sheer simple joy.

The first day I woke up at 5, did Kung Fu training, climbed a mountain and discovered a small Kung Fu school. They welcomed me. I bought them a basketball because there's was broken. We played and then I watched them train. The bigger school where I was staying was more regimented and intimidating. I think they only sleep for 2 naps a day between 2-5am and 12-3pm. A 7 hour hike that I thought might never end. It finally did in a parking lot, 30km away from where I needed to be, a fight in Chinese with illegal taxi drivers, roads under construction, dinner with kung fu coaches. Dodging 3 year olds with swords in the dark. The army never stopped. where/when do they sleep. I'm really not sure.

Laughter. Frustration. China treads a fine line. The train ride home was 11 hours. I waited until the last minute to book my ticket and when I got to the station in Kaifeng, there were no seats or sleepers left. I was forced to buy a standing ticket. Without a clue what that meant, I nervously boarded the train. Exhausted from my trip and expecting to be shoved into a cattle car to stand for the whole journey. This could have easily been the case, but once again my imagination was wrong.

A ticket to one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. My standing ticket meant tht I stood in the aisle of the train, between seats. Between people of all ages, speaking various dialects from somewhere near heart of China, all travelling east, all staring at the funny looking white girl. Trains are really nice in china. This car had about 10 small LCD screens and was playing some cheesy kung fu flick. I stood in the isle, sweating and exhausted while I had to move myself and my bag out of the way every 30seconds to let the food cart, or some person on their way to or from putting steaming hot water into their cup of ramen. As I stood there, the end of the movie was playing. And I have never in my life seen people so utterly captivated in anything in my life. This was clearly a cheesy, amateurish Kung Fu comedy. And when I looked around everyone from the three year old jumping in her seat, to the 80 year old man with his slippers on, to the jaded teenagers, to the migrant workers with big swollen fingers, to the quiet student off to visit his girlfriend. Everyone was completely enthralled and laughing hilariously outloud for the entire time. Never in my life have I seen an audience so captivated. So simple and shocking.

In the world that I was born, there is no such movie, or anything else for that matter, that could so effectively grasp the attention of so many people and cause them all to laugh. A big real loud hysterical laugh. This was China.

2 comments:

d said...

Taylor,
怎么样?
好像你的禄行挺好的。
reading your text
your photos
looks like it was great
mine's wasn't so good
i quite feel envy
for some reason
i left my camera at home
and i was almost the whole trip without one until i saw a lomo
until i bought a lomo
until i open my first birthday present
guess what
a lomo!
http://www.lomography.com/

here are the photos from the writers block:
http://picasaweb.google.com/d.focus.blog/Shanghai/

meronkun said...

i hope you never see this till way later
you'll probably get a little message now though, which makes me sad.
so many kisses, taylor. i'm glad you wrote all this. i just glanced. but i have a fun time in your brain a deep fun time. maybe i can find my badass past from travels too, they sound like you and have funny pictures i drew. its like you were there though, biking across the tiny passageway in love couples river as me with a computer in your backpack but making it out safe and the only other thing i can remember is there was probably a sky. anyway, we'll make a boat one day. i just had a long, wide awake, happy morning today lying up, so my mind is in a certain way, playing in taylor land. ashish is awake, time for the rest of the day!!!

 
taylor levy. taylor levy. taylor levy. taylor levy. taylor levy. possible design object. possible design object. possible design object. itp. itp. itp. itp.