黄山游随想 (3)

1 Aug

3. “被告” (being accused)

Getting a chance to visit Huang Shan was really precious, especially to me, a recent college fresh out and working at a prestigious research institute, should I tell my boss to grant me a few  leave days for it?

Someone had said it before, “life is 10% of what happens and 90% of how you react to it.” In retrospect, I am glad I have the courage to ask. Obviously, I did ask and I ended up with going for my invitation of visiting Huang Shan 🙂

Informing me, by one of my close friend, that I became a “被告” over the fact of my taking a few days off to visit Huang Shan, happened much later and it was one of my life lessons learned in my early years.

One, who was among our newly graduates from colleges, who worked at the same department as I, and who had figured out where I went, decided to report my “wrong” doing. Although there was no impact on my side over her reporting of me to my boss, or our boss, there must be impacts on her over her initiation of reporting me, if not more…

黄山游随想 Hello There, Again!




1 Aug

到此一游 (a symbolic trip)

This story is about a tiny baby, who stayed on his father’s back while his whole family were climbing  to the top of  Huang Shan. Seemingly, the baby was not impressed by the beauties he saw while on the back of his father, but we could easily imagine how proud he would be when he becomes big enough to understand the photos of their Huang Shan trip and seeing he was in every photo they took.  Indeed, the trip was symbolic to him.

This was the time China was rather at  bottom among developing countries and we rarely saw babies in public because babies could be the most vulnerable against germs and diseases attack. The circumstance of this baby became the impressive story to share and the baby was the most impressive traveler to me during my Huang Shan trip.

黄山游随想 Hello There, Again!

黄山游随想 (2)

1 Aug

2. 五花大绑

It was the day we were climbing “天都峰”, one of three most dangerous pecks of the Huang Shan. Although Huang Shan was the well-known for travelers to visit in 1983, but there was no vendors or business services beyond the base camp where we stayed in the nights. We prepared for everything we need during the day trip, a lot of water and food. The world then was 100% analog and we had our bulky camera, films, and peripheries of the camera. The supplies we prepared for three of us, my father, my younger sister and me; as usual, all of the weights were under my shoulders, all of us were excited to start the trip to “天都峰”, and nobody thought about who should take what stuff.

Seeing us at the first sight, my father’s colleague jokingly said, while looking at me, “at this early of the day, you have already been in 五花大绑.”

Ha ha ha, everyone laughed his clever joke.

Indeed! Bags filled with stuff and water bottles were all in a simple military style, then, each was crossing a shoulder hanging on each side of the body. If our bags and bottles were all on my body, I must be looked as being tightened up tightly. It could be an accurate description and  my body could be looked as if I was being punished, and had to be in “五花大绑”.

Growing up with the communist education, at school or at home, I understood my responsibility very clear, i.e., “do my best of my ability, and want only what I need.” At school, our workloads were assigned by teachers and distributed to everyone equally, and our teachers rarely give a biased treatment to anyone. At home, however, my parents’ giving  assignments not based on “justice and equality for all”, but giving out to whoever take them voluntarily. In their eyes, as long as there was no complains, everything should be fine. Eventually, in our family, “one can be spoiled taking no responsibilities but favors while the other takes all of the responsibilities voluntarily.”

Come to think of the joke now, how true it had been reflecting ! When my father’s colleague put his observation with the emphasis on “at this early of the day”; he must have meant “has anyone already been tired for carrying out the load for the trip supplies?”

黄山游随想 Hello There, Again!

黄山游随想 (5)

29 Jul

5. 开心的女人们 (perky female)

During the trip in Huang Shan, the condition of our stays at night was rather primitive. All of us, female faculty members and observers of the seminar group, jammed in the same big room filled with two-level bunker beds stocked row by row. The room was like a classroom with big windows and without desks and chairs.

 By the way, all of my stories in my Huang Shan trip, described here, were inspired by my memory encompassed with my first revelation to a certain human nature/character.

This one, 开心的女人们, is about my earliest eye opening experience in seeing the true nature of women faculty, being perky and friendly after a hard day of climbing with scenic tours. My revelation in this story is that women who teach mathematics tend to have a cheerful personality; and it made a high contrast to what I saw in that older male faculty climbing up each step with the utterance, 花钱买罪受. What a world! I thought,  while watching him moving with a great difficulty, and felling inadvertent of helping him to change that view; if such scenic beauties couldn’t relieve him from the feeling of suffering, he must be the kind that “倒找钱也不再去了”, which means “I am not going even if you pay me to go again.” That is the phase I heard from other travelers from time to time.  Indeed, we individuals are not the same, to say the least. 

黄山游随想 Hello There, Again!

黄山游随想 (6)

25 Jul

6. 当回傻瓜:教条主义的牺牲品

This one is simple and I share with you right away.

I bought a super expensive color film before my trip to Huang Shan.  I read an article about color film and learned that the yellow lens, an auxiliary part of my camera for the black and white film, was also useful for color films.

It was the day we were climbing “天都峰”, one of three most dangerous pecks of the Huang Shan. On my way climbing up during the “鲫鱼背” section, one of the steepest sections up that had 1564 steps with handrails. At the half of a way through, I realized that my film switching from the black and white to the colored for this natural wonder needed a darkroom; and I turned my way downward immediately. My action had surprised everyone. Driven by my determination for using my color film at the top of “天都峰”, I made my trip down for the film switching successfully; that is, I climbed down, switched the films in “darkroom”, and climbed back up quickly. I united with my father and my younger sister, who was another observer invited to the mathematics seminar, at the top of “天都峰”.

“当回傻瓜” is the title of this story and it means being a silly person to be laughed at and joked about.

My silliness in being “傻瓜”was reminded in my pictures taken in my color film at the top of “天都峰”. After I switched films from the black and white to the colored, I did not take off my yellow lens. While we were taking wonderful “天都峰” pictures at the top, my father pointed out the yellow lens on my camera. I told him that I read an article in a professional magazine with regard to such an issue and kept my yellow lens on. My silliness was pretty obvious, not listening to my father, but keeping the yellow lens on regardless any impact of the technique of combining the yellow lens and the color film.

From then on, I was joked and ridiculed by everyone in my family for a long while. Even though, I did not blame my father at all. I thought that I had made a mistake of reading a technical article without using my brain, a victim in dogmatic reading. In Chinese, it is called 教条主义的牺牲品.

黄山游随想 (1-6) Hello There, Again!

Hello There, Again!

25 Jul


I was born and raised in the mainland of China. I am sharing my stories during my early years in China.

It was thirty-five years ago when vacation was not in our vocabulary and 99.999% people did not understand the concept of traveling for natural beauties, too luxury to have. Although learned people knew the fact that beauties of Huang Shan had inspired artistic works, traveling to Huang Shan by an individual for seeing the beauties with our own eyes was almost impossible. That was the time my story began, my first visit of Huang Shan in 1983.

It took hours of bus riding to arrive at the foot of Huang Shan; the bus riding alone was one-day trip starting from a small town in Anhui province. The road was terrible for the bus with stiff seats filled with a group of people attending a mathematics seminar holding in a conference room at Huang Shan. It was a very creative and widespread idea at the time, with the obvious hidden agenda: traveling to Huang Shan for its beauties. As a daughter of an instructor of the seminar, I was invited as an observer of the seminar.

Thirty-five years have gone by, my observations during the trip have not faded away, which are the tales of my travel to Huang Shan, will be remembered and shared in six different stories.

1. 花钱买罪受 (purchased suffering)

Everyone attending the mathematics seminar was a senior faculty from some higher educational institute; and the seminar sponsor institute was the Mathematics Department of Beijing Normal University, where my father had been a faculty since 1949. No doubt that everyone in our group was learned and had understood the privilege we were taking for this seminar. For one, it took a very special arrangement to have a bus taking us to the foot of Huang Shan. It was about an eight-hour driving on the rough road that was designed mainly for the on-foot or on-horse travelers. For another, Huang Shan was the most popularized and well-known  scenic place in the mainland of China due to its famous scenic art work, the portrait of a majestic pine tree grown out of a cliff, hanging inside of the People’s Hall standing next to Beijing Tiananmen Square. It was dubbed “迎客松”,meaning, welcome to the guests of the People’s Hall.

花钱买罪受 is the title of my first story, which was the phrase used by one of the seminar attendees repeatedly, while on his way to “迎客松”.  A translation of this phrase may be “a purchased suffering”.  Could you imagine how he felt while believing that  he was  suffering? It was not an easy climb toward “迎客松” then; neither was our bus riding to the foot of Huang Shan.Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 12.18.50 PM

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 4.37.17 PM
2. 五花大绑 黄山游随想 (2)
3. “被告” 黄山游随想 (3)
4. 到此一游 黄山游随想(4)
5. 开心的女人们 黄山游随想 (5)
6. 当回傻瓜:教条主义的牺牲品. 黄山游随想 (6)

A Story of a Diplomat

13 Sep


If we want to be excellent in our chosen profession, we cannot have glory without working hard. My recent retrospection propelled me to tell a wonderful story about a Chinese diplomat.

First, let me share my reason to give you this wonderful story. At work, I was unpleasantly being called  the “dignified old lady” by a male colleague.  I naturally ignored this insult at first. I paused as if I did not hear it at all. Then, I acted as if I am passing him a secret, I whispered, … “are you a carefree young man?”  we both laughed because he was anything but young.

The story of a diplomat that I am about to tell was a story I heard by when I was a third grader, told by my classmate. The story was hidden in the back of my distant memory and triggered by my experience with my colleague mentioned here.

It was 1954, five years after the end of the last Chinese civil war that resulted in the communist party taking over the mainland of China. Countries were then separated into two major camps: the socialist big family and the western free world. The world was divided by an Iron curtain, a term coined by Winston Churchill. People on the both sides of the curtain were taken as enemies and  hostile to each other.

It was an international conference, in Geneva, hosted by United Nations, to negotiate peace in Indo-China, a region to the south of China. The first prime minister of the New China, Zhou Enlai, a top diplomat, was sent there for the peace talks.  This diplomat had studied as a foreign student in France when he was young and he was carrying out a hidden mission during the conference, which was to find allies for New China from the western world.

At the conference, a top diplomat of Israel was introduced to the Chinese diplomat by a French diplomat, who was a mutual acquaintance of the two diplomats,  the Chinese and the Israeli. They were supposed to shake hands while they were introduced to each other; and they did. But, the Israeli diplomat did it after putting his gloves on. That was very rude.

The Chinese diplomat noticed it but acted as if he did not, or he didn’t mind it at all. After the two done shaking hands, the Chinese diplomat politely took out his handkerchief, slowly wiped out his hand used to shake hands with the Israeli diplomat, and quietly walked to the nearest garbage can. He dropped his handkerchief in the garbage can.

The Chinese diplomat ignored his offender and came up with actions matched the insult on him quickly and diplomatically. The story had passed on orally. Since I was born and raised in China, I heard it long before receiving the title of “dignified old lady”.

In retrospect, in 1954, China was looking for allies from outside of the socialist camp because China was oppressed by Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the socialist camp at that time. Israel was approached by Chinese for an ally because both countries were young and had few friends. The Israeli diplomat had made an insult to the Chinese diplomat because Israel was created with the help of the United States and the United States was the staunch supported of the defeated government of the New China.

A country has no friends, only interests. –Charles de Gaulle

What would you do, or do you give an approval to the Chinese Diplomat with such an action? Who we act depends on what we have perceived in each circumstance. This Chinese diplomat was well known to the world as one of the smartest Chinese.  A diplomat should and ought to be the most capable people who can defend their national pride, and sometimes, who might have to swallow the obvious national pride for the sake of a mission undertaking.

Please do share your stories of diplomats with me 🙂