If A Tree Falls in A Forest...
Were Americans more likely than other Westerns to play violin in bamboo forests? Were Americans known for their resilience when confronted with knife wielding strangers?
The moment had passed, and there was nothing I could do. Machetes have a way of breaking one’s concentration you see, and just as I was about to say my final prayers, one of the workers turned toward me and gave out the familiar cry off, “HALLOOO!?”.
I’m not being modest when I say that my recently-acquired Chinese violin is little more than a shoebox with strings. The sound is unnaturally tinny, and there isn’t even the name of the maker inscribed on the inside. The point is: I can love it to death without worrying about collateral damage, and believe me you, I love this Chinese violin. To death. I love it so much that I decided to take it to my local park for a play-date. There’s a nice park across the street from my university in Xiasha. It’s a great place to admire the blossoms peaking out of their buds and escape the bustle of the city. Naturally, I didn’t want my racket to disturb the picnicking couples, so I found a somewhat secluded area amongst a small cluster nd of bamboo trees and there I sat. The path was out if the way enough to prevent me from winding up on the evening news, but a few random stragglers came wondering by every now and again. Feeling relaxed, I took out my beloved violin, tuned, and begun to play. Not long into playing, I saw some workers go by. They climbed right into the bamboo trees and, from the corner of my eye, I watched their flat shoes pad softly over fallen leaves. What were they doing? I wondered. Usually I’d just ask straight out, but this time I didn’t because I wanted to be a part of the background. To just blend in. If I stopped what I was doing, it would be like breaking the spell.
That was when I noticed the machetes... I’ll skip ahead and tell you that they weren’t members of a local gang, or dangerous in anyway. Actually, they were very good workers as even the sight of a strange foreigner playing violin in the forest didn’t distract them from their task, which was to lop down bamboo trees. But the thing is, I didn’t know this at the time, so I
continued playing my random fiddle repertoire in an attempt to ease my creeping suspicions. It wasn’t until they stood about 5 feet from me that I figured I was getting close to meeting my maker. I watched as they examined the bamboo trees, and then HACK! went the machete and CRASH! went the tree. I went on playing, like those sad musicians on the doomed Titanic, and tried to recapture the peaceful romance of a few moments ago. But it was no use. The moment had passed, and there was nothing I could do. Machetes have a way of breaking one’s concentration you see, and just as I was about to say my final prayers, one of the workers turned toward me and gave out the familiar cry off, “HALLOOO!?”. Then, after a pause, he said, “That’s how foreigners say it, right? Halllooo?” “Yes,” I said. “But you can also just say ‘你好’, right?” He nodded. “Where are you from?” his friend asked. “Where do you think I’m from?” I asked. (Guessing games are always much more fun). “America,” he said without hesitation.
nd As I left the forest, I wondered how guessed my nationality so quickly. Was it a random guess? Were Americans more likely than other Westerns to play violin in bamboo forests? Were Americans known for their resilience when confronted with knife wielding strangers? I suppose it’s like that question: If a tree falls in a forest when no one’s around, will it make a sound? No-one will ever know I guess, except now I have an answer: it will sound like a crushed violin.