28 May, 2007

No.04: Inner Mongolia - Photo Session

In Tang Dynasty Dress
(04-16th July, 2004)

It was a glorious day. The sun was streaming down warmly on my skin and I can't have enough of the blue sky. Another day in Inner Mongolia. I've bought a second-hand bicycle to use during my stay there. It was more fun to pedal around the city as it wasn't very big and has less traffic. Cathy and I would cycle in and around the city.

On that delightful, warm and sunny day, we decided to go shopping. I wasn't looking for anything in particular but we thought it such a shame to waste the beautiful day staying indoors. Cathy and I often went window shopping, so we made up our minds to go out as usual. We came upon a photo studio which offers professional photos for a surprisingly reasonable price. I've often enquired in Xian on the same but haven't had the time or chance to make it into reality.

We went into the studio, asked about the price range then selected the dresses of my choice. I was very tempted to take pictures with the beautiful and delicate wedding dresses. Sadly I reckon that'll have to wait :P We made an ideal bargain and in we went into the studio. The beautician 'plastered' my face and viola! I was ready. However, my hair was a different problem as I had it short at that time and found it pretty difficult to style it altogether other than using wigs!

The photo session began. Relax.. relax... click.. put your right hand up smile.. click..click.. RELAX.. lean back a little more.. smile SMILE.. click..change your dress..ok now relax...And all this said in chinese to Cathy who then translated it to me. I felt like a zombie...Nothing was overlooked - Every little detail was given importance, from tilting my head to my fingers which at that time I found quite unnecessary. But the photographer knows best and I just relented.The shooting went on and on.To me it feels like ages. By the time we were finished, I was quite exhausted but with a great sense of accomplishment!

From this experience, my long time desire(I guess it's every young girl's dream) to be an aspiring model was partially reversed. The 'looking good, high salary and popular' part still retains, but the photo session - ummm...that's something else. I just never thought it to be that tiring :) But once again, it's an experience which doesn't come by easily and it will be fondly remembered and the pictures treasured.

No.03: Inner Mongolia - Shower Sham

Hohhot, Inner Mongolia
(04-16th July, 2004)

We reached Hohhot, the Capital of Inner Mongolia at about 9:00 am. We proceeded for Cathy's house which was on the fourth floor of a five storey building. I was warmly welcomed by her parents. Since I was the first foreigner in their locality, many curious neighbours came probably to see what an Indian/foreigner looks like. I had a feeling they're a little disappointed to see that I don't look much different to the Chinese other than the fact that I have bigger eyes and darker skin. But they were all very friendly and asked Cathy a lot of questions about me.

After the visitors left, we had tea, Cathy showed me to my room and prepared to take shower. Unfortunately the bathroom was on repair, so Cathy apologetically explained that we had to go to the public bath to take shower. I found nothing strange in that until we proceeded for the public bath which had separate rooms for men and women.

After paying for our shower, we proceeded for the locker room and next to it is the shower room. Cathy started stripping and I followed suit. Quite normal. But to my shock, there was no stopping! She discarded all her clothings until she was standing in front of me stark naked! I stopped and paused......Oh Lord! Do I have to do that? She doesn't look the least flustered.

I've heard of students taking shower in the public baths before. But what I didn't realise until now was that it was quite normal for them to take shower naked in the public ones. Cathy waited for me with a questioning look. I found it very difficult to proceed. At some point I finally decided to do the same, for the sole reason as not to offend her. So I took off (all) my clothes pretending hard not to show my embarassment and self-consciousness while reality is quite the opposite. Right at that moment, I wished I'd just 'poof' into thin air. But no turning back now. I thought to myself, 'It's just Cathy here. I don't want to offend her. Quickly strip and run into the confinement of the shower room'.

I stepped into the shower room flushed with embarassment still pretending hard to be casual about it. But oh no, there was more shock in store for me! There, in front of me were about eight women of various ages, all taking shower naked in one room without any partition. I wanted to turn back and leave instantly. But drat....Cathy was right behind me blocking my way out. I was trapped!! I had no choice but to proceed.

Before entering the room, I thought that there would be partitioning on each shower for privacy. But nay, that's not to be the case. I wished Cathy had informed me in detail what to expect in public baths. I really felt violated! All I could remember from then on was that I turned my back to all the others and glued my eyes on the wall, and the bag of toiletries I kept in front of me. I could sense Cathy taking shower next to me and talking to me. I bet she sensed then that it was my first time in the public baths and was trying her best to ease my discomfort.

Looking back now, I realised that the incident was all part of the culture experience which can help me better understand the Chinese society. But going back to the public bath will be something I'll try to avoid as much as possible. One public bath experience is quite enough for me to last for a long long time to come.

No.02: Inner Mongolia - The Journey

Snap taken from the train
(04-16th July, 2004)

It was my first summer in China in the year 2004. My first long holidays, which usually amounts to about two months. Two months is a long time and I decided I'm definitely not gonna stay put in Xi'an. It's hot and dry, and I was told the city would almost come to a stand-still as majority of the students go home during this time. After a semester of teaching, I was ready and eager for a break and some adventure.

Prior to the holidays, Cathy, a student friend invited me to spend the holidays with her family in her home town in Inner Mongolia. I thought to myself,'what better opportunity can there be other than starting my first journey from the north of China'. So I gladly accepted her invitation and thus waited for the much anticipated glorious holidays.
'Shan' aka Mountain

On D-Day, we proceeded for the train station which to my utter horror was way too over-crowded filled with excited students and few tourists who looks almost scared of the overwhelming crowd. After waiting for about an hour we finally boarded the train. It was about 22 hours ride direct from Xi'an to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. The train was filled with excited squealing, singing and loud conversations from students. There were students I teach in our compartment and were kind enough to take turns to explain as best they could about Inner Mongolia in broken English. It was fun!
Huang He (Yellow River)

We passed through many long and short tunnels in the mountains and the famous River Huang Ho (Yellow River). Unlike India, most of the mountains in China are very barren. They are mostly treeless and looks bleak. However, on entering Inner Mongolia Province, I could feel my spirit soaring at the landscape which was altogether different. The sky was blue with patches of cloud and there's the beautiful stretch of grassland as far as the eyes could see. It has cool fresh air...Purrrrr..Oh...It's just gonna be glorious!
On the way to Inner Mongolia

23 May, 2007

No.01: Rough Time

Gao Xin Hospital

Having what one may call a ' rough day', out of boredom I sat in front of my computer browsing through different websites. The truth is, there's really nothing else to do around here for entertainment or for a friendly chat with friends living miles away from me. Somehow, nothing seems to capture my interest. Then I decided to try my hand in writing in order to take my mind off this boredom. At least if I begin writing, it'll kick-start my dormant mind which haven't been functioning as it should for eons now. So, here I am, clicking away about my not-so-pleasant but recent experience. And it does help me to get my mind away to focus on my new venture into the 'blogging' world!

For the past two consequent days, I've been to the doctor for check-up on eye-inflammation which seems to come up out of nowhere a few days back. I've had the same problem a month ago on the other eye for which I had no medication and it just seems to heal almost perfectly by itself. This time, I decided I'd better consult the doctor.

I went with my 'waiban' (Director of Foreign Department). It was about half an hour ride from my University by car. After registration, we were ushered into the doctors room. The fact that I cannot communicate with the doctor who speaks none other than Chinese makes it doubly frustrating. So I explained (or at least to my waiban) the problem who then translated it to the doctor.

The doctor nodded, took a quick look at my inflamed eye, scribbled some medicine to buy, asked me to take a therapy (I still don't know what that therapy was for!) and to come back the next day. We were then quickly ushered out of the room. That's it! I don't know what I expected. But I'm quite sure one quick glance at my eye is definitely not one of them!

We went down to the second floor to take the therapy. I was asked to lie down. A long adjustable iron attached to a domineering machine behind me, with a round black patch at the end was adjusted near my infected eye. It doesn't emit any heat nor any physical sensation felt. So, there I was, lying down with the machine churning behind me for 20 minutes.After the therapy, I don't feel any different!

We went back the next day to find the doctor take the same quick look, same therapy for 20 minutes and we were off again. The only difference this time is that I was asked to go back after two days and if there's no improvement, I may have to undergo a minor-operation. This is no good news at all for me. I dread the thought of having to go through surgery especially in a foreign land.

I've asked several friends for prayer support. Meanwhile, here I am brooding with doubt and yet with a teeny weeny ray of hope that I will somehow be healed. I'm hoping and praying my heartfelt prayer that I'll wake up tomorrow to find my eyes completely healed. I know I'm being tried to the highest limit of the little faith I have in Jesus. I also know that if it's His will, I can be healed. Even if not...I still believe that I'm going through this for a higher purpose which in His utmost grace decides to keep it unrevealed for the moment. This is just another step I have to overcome.

As I sat with mixed feelings, my eyes caught this writing which I printed out several months ago. And I'm amazed at the accuracy of his promise and timing.....I know this is His way of telling me that "He'll never leave me nor forsake me - EVER".

"Our Thinking vs.God's Promise"

"It's impossible"
All things are possible (Lk.18:27)

"I'm too tired"
I will give you rest (Mt.11:28-30)

"Nobody really loves me"
I love you (Jn.3:16)

"I can't go on"
My grace is sufficient (II Cor.12:19)

"I can't figure things out"
I will direct your steps (Prov.20:24)

"I can't do it"
You can do all things (Phil 4:13)

"I'm not able"
I am able (II Cor.9:8)

"It's not worth it"
It will be worth it (Rom.8:28)

"I can't forgive myself"
I forgive you (I Jon 1:9 & Rom.8:1)

"I can't manage"
I will supply all your needs (Phil.4:19)

"I'm afraid"
I have not given you a spirit of fear (II Tim.1:7)

"I'm always worried and frustrated"
Cast all your cares on Me (I Pet.5:7)

"I don't have enough faith"
I've given everyone a measure of faith (Rom 12:8)

"I'm not smart enough"
I give you wisdom (I Cor.1:30)

"I feel all alone"
I will never leave you or forsake you (Heb.13:5)

By Faith Sealock