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Archive for December, 2013

Shanghai and Beijing 2013

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13 December 2013-22 December 2013.

So I am finally back after a 10 day learning journey trip from Shanghai and Beijing. Many things are concurrently flashing across my head now, like the reeling of a film and I realized that as much as I have lots to say, words fail me. I can’t seem to articulate my words well enough because most of the emotions need to be felt in the heart and cannot be narrated out. But I shall try my best. To summarize it all, I thought I went through an emotional and psychological learning journey during the past 10 days. As short as it may seem, my world paradigm jostled and shifted again. If people were to ask us who we actually are, I don’t think I can aver and say “I am _______”, but rather I’ll just choose the easier way out and say that “I am just a sum of all my experiences and the people whom I met.” These ten days have taught me many things and alerted me to the crucial issues out there-of growing up, of learning how to communicate with people and of chasing dreams. What is youth without the ethereal ideal of fulfilling one’s wildest fantasies and being accorded the prized ability to dream? These ten days I felt armored by the ability to live out my innermost desires and to excavate new wants deep inside of me, desires that have been lurking around for a long while, only to see the light of day over the course of the past few days.

Many life lessons will stay with me. Before I left for Shanghai, I thought I knew what I wanted in life. I was so affirmative of my decision to join the heritage sector or to proceed with my dreams of being a curator.But now, I am in a state of flux. I can no longer announce clearly that this is what I want. The past ten days have taught me that anything is possible as long as you are willing to give your all and your best shot in anything. But all great things come with a sacrifice/price. The more important question then is, how far are you willing to go? Are you willing to parlay all you have? This is not a game of chess, not everything has to be done strategically-what matters is the very instance in which you are dealt with that particular piece. How do you make your move? Does it really matter in the longee duree? All I can say is, right now I don’t think I believe in regrets. I choose to define regrets as something that would have panned out alternatively had you not picked that route at the given point in time. I’ll like to abide by my stand that despite us being rational, sensible human beings, we are all emotional creatures who are deft with our life choices. We do what is best for us and whatever that happened, was probably the best that could have happened. When all else fails, sit back and hand the steering wheel to the big guy up there.

Shanghai has been the city of my dreams for a very long time. Ever since I did a paper on Shanghai when I was in sophomore year, I fell in love with the city. Shanghai is a city of many contradictions, yet its charm also lies in its duality. Its a city which embraces the old and the new, a metropolis where many cultures conflate to produce a synergy like no other. If people were to ask me what I love most about Shanghai, I would say the dynamism that seeps through the veins of the urban-polis and the fact that its a living palimpsest of many ideas, traditions yet it is able to balance the many facets of its identity to nurture in its residents a dual citizenship-that of a Chinese and that of a global citizen. Naysayers will argue that I am very much naive, but hey what is youth without wide eyed innocence? Beijing on the other hand was very much fashioned by its reputation as the capital, which was connoted with political vigour, yet it remained a historical city at heart. Its a lovely city, a city which bore the pride of the Chinese and a city which aspired to reach even greater heights for in its nub lies a nesting ground of ideas opportunities and fortuitous encounters.

A very inspiring lady told me something during the trip and I shall quote her here “everything is more difficult in China, but anything is possible here.” The most luxurious aspect of China is not the readily expandable market that it proffers, but the expanse of space and human ambition that is available. China is such a large and humongous country that opportunities loiter in every nook and cranny of the country. I strongly believe in human agency and thus I think opportunities are bestowed, yet they have to be discovered. The lure of China lies in the ability of the country to absorb your failures-you are given not one chance, but multiple chances. I think all of us need to know that we have choices in life and we should give ourselves time to fail, time to get back on our feet and time to try again. When we know that we have more than one option, we become more humane. We start to treat ourselves better and to be gentle with ourselves. Second chances provide platforms for self reflection, and I think in today’s man eat man world, where we are all haplessly mired in the rat race, it helps to know that there IS a way out. I can’t assure you that the road ahead is easier, but I hope that if you know you still have a way out, you’ll be able to face the future with open arms and to thrust yourself into the green light. There’s a time for everything and as scarred beings, we all need to learn how to dream and to love again. This is my main takeaway from China.

I met many inspiring and ingenious people over the past ten days and as fleeting as those encounters may be, it was fate that allowed us to meet.For that I will always be thankful. They will always stay in my heart because we are a sum of experiences and of people whom we met. What amazes me is that despite that facade of conformity, we are all dreamers deep down. Unpolished diamonds waiting for the day the sun shines down on the begrimed surfaces, allowing the glow to permeate once more.

For that, China will always hold a special position in my heart.

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