My strange hap­pen­stance that brought me all the way to China

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Sangeet San­groula

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

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