Thursday, February 15, 2018

Happy New Year!

Again. The first one, between January 1st and today, has been going pretty good, I must say. But here I am in China on Chinese New Year, which (weirdly I just found out), is also called the Spring Festival and marks the first day of Spring. And the weather cooperated, as I shed my jacket and even unbuttoned my shirt.

After yesterday’s memorable Lion Dance, my hosts delivered again with a walk down Beijing Street swarming with thousands of black-haired folks with pinwheels and cute figures attached to their hair. Past the flower markets, alas, no more Lion or Dragon dances, but a festive feeling in the air. A Budhhist temple and I dutifully lit some incense and bowed to Buddha along with the others, secretly chanting some of my memorized Zen texts. Snapping the mandatory photos and then I turned around and there were the giant billboards encouraging unrestrained consumption. Not exactly Buddha’s message.

Some cognitivie dissonance between the temple and the McCafe across the street, the Buddha who held the whole universe in his gestured hands and the serenity of being transparent to transcendence in his smile, looking at the cool teenage model magnified on the giant billboard holding his i-Phone and doing his best to project the image of cool. And yet the people still respectfully bowed and prayed, though perhaps asking Buddha to help them get the new i-Phone 10, thank you very much.

From the bustling streets to my first park in China and that was a breath of fresh air. The old men hunched over playing cards, the kids skipping merrily down the path and a group of adults doing some Plaza Dances, an informal mixture of line dancing and ballroom dancing to pop-versions of some Chinese folk songs. Like my opening fork and chopstick moment, the Chinese are dancing the waltz in the parks here while white folks in San Francisco practice Tai Chi. It’s a weird, wild, wacky…and mostly wonderful world.

It’s also Valentine’s Day. I didn’t receive any heart candies with “B mine 4 ever” and not even an e-mail greeting, but though I wouldn’t mind a few hugs and kisses, my love affair is with the World and when I pay attention, I feel embraced beyond what I probably deserve.

So in the fancy lounge at the Guangzhou Airport en-route to Bangkok and nothing more to say but “Gung Hay Fat Choi !”

(Feb. 14) 

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