7 May 2008

A fleeting glimpse of "The Dragon"

Reading through the newspapers last week, it seemed hosting the Olympic games has now become sort of a PR embarrassment for China. Wherever the torch goes, Tibetans seems to spring up and put up all sorts of protests. Now, their cause might be valid as well - one definitely sympathizes with the cause for freedom for any race - but what puzzles me most is - why this moment to choose for the protest? The Olympic flame is a spirit - ought to be respected by all countries & races.

Now, my view of China comes from the 2 month visit i had to Hangzhou and I'm definitely impressed by what i saw there. Before i went there, I had some limited conceptions of China in mind, images of dragons & Kung-Fu masters and particularly that of an Asian country yet in the "Developing" zone.

What i saw over there (in Hangzhou) actually rocked me. Such a beautiful place. And one in sync with the most modern things in terms of infrastructure and development. The Kung-Fu masters still reign supreme - but only on television. Dragons existed - but only on beautiful silk cloth that can be bargained cheaply on Silk Road. Though modern in outlook - they still manage to hold on to their culture so very strongly. And people (atleast the ones i had an opportunity to meet) were very soft-spoken, polite and helpful. Communication was difficult - at least using English - i had to often resort to dumb-charades.

I also had an opportunity to visit Shanghai which I found awesome but a bit crowded ( but then which metro isn't?). One thing i realized during these visits is that the Chinese respect their art and heritage a lot. (And I like people who have that respect in mind)

It was an enjoyable experience that I'll cherish - whether it be sipping Longjing Tea in the morning, learning to eat using chopsticks, sampling the variety of foodstuff or trying to communicate in English.

I've not one doubt that the Olympics in China will be a dazzling affair. It will showcase the real China to the world - a different China than most of us have in our minds.

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