My strange happenstance that brought me all the way to China
It all started with a simple thought of indulging myself in reading about China one evening in 2016.
Even though I grew up hearing stories about the rapid economic achievements of China, in the neighboring country of Nepal (the country where I am from), China was still a distant land to me.
I still remember my first encounter with Chinese people. Those were businessmen who ran a leather factory near my house. But if I ever came across any other Chinese, they were tourists visiting Kathmandu.
My curiosity about China prompted me to visit a bookstore near my office one day. I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree by day and working as a reporter for an English national daily in Nepal by night. One of the books I bought discussed at length modern China including the lives of people from different walks of life.
The author vividly described what life is like in the hutong of Beijing and traditional matchmaking (xiangqin), amongst other topics such as Chinese food. I had never tried Chinese food in my life before then. But the book captured my imagination so much that I became fascinated. After that, my reading list of books about China continued to grow. I was continuously feeding my curiosity. But I had no idea if I would ever go to China.
A strange coincidence occurred one evening at the beginning of 2017.
My editor announced that a media exchange fellowship had been offered to our newspaper, which gave us journalists the chance to go to China. As I was the junior writer at our bureau, I definitely did not have much say in the decision, but I had to speak up.
“I am interested!” I shouted. As luck would have it, other colleagues were not interested in going due to personal reasons, so the opportunity came to me.
I thought the fellowship was only for a few weeks, but much to my surprise, it turned out that I was going to live in China for 10 months and explore China in a way I had never imagined in my life.
Until a few months ago, I was exploring China only through books. Today I am here in China seeking firsthand knowledge and experiences about the people and their culture. Not just that, but I am also writing about China for my Nepali readers as our paper’s China correspondent.
This happenstance could not have worked out better for me. My time in China is turning out to be a once-in-alife-time experience and also a lifechanging one. In the short time I have been here, I have already traveled to over 15 provinces, and in my free time I am learning the language (Putonghua) and learning how to make mooncakes and meeting a wide variety of local people, from top officials to ordinary citizens. There are also a large number of expats in Beijing hailing from Southeast Asia and Africa with whom I have made friends with. My next plan is to enroll in Tsinghua University as an exchange student so I can continue to stay and study here. But I did not realize I had already fallen in love with China until I got here.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.
Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT