Saturday, December 30, 2006

I got tagged !

I've been out of town -to Paris, actually- in the last couple of days, so that's why I have only today noticed that I was tagged by Richard in some sort of chain-post (or how should I call this ? and are those participating then members of a chain gang ?) Anyway, always heed the call of the master, I was told, so when Richard puts me up on TPD, all I can do is obey.

So here is five things you always wanted to know about me but were afraid to ask.

1. I started to study Chinese because in 1983 our television broke down. Seems a bit strange ? Not really, that's just the way things are: television sets do break down ... All joking aside, I happened to have Latin and Greek as my majors during secondary school and though I've never regretted it for an instant, I was starting to get a little worried on my job prospects later as those six years pulled to an end. I was however almost determined to continue classic philology at university, in spite of having nearly no other way to go with such a bachelor degree than in education, when, as mentioned, our TV gave up on us. The guy who came to deliver a new one a couple of weeks later had just come back from a trip to Japan and happened to have some pictures in his car, as well as a pile of stories on how difficult it was for foreigners to get around in the Land of the Rising Sun due to language problems. My interest was aroused and after a "minor shift" from Japan to China in the months that followed, I started at the Sinology Department of my university in September 1984.

2. There are not too many things I'm proud about but from those six years in secondary school, there is one that remains etched in my mind as a moment of absolute triumph, the kind of moment one comes across only a very few times in an entire lifetime. In the sixth and last year, everybody had to deliver a speech on a subject you were free to choose. Now, although you may not think so from reading my English (which is not my mother tongue, as you probably have guessed), I was rather good at writing in my native language and I put a lot of effort in getting this speech exactly into what I wanted it to be. I teamed up with one of my classmates and we took Gabriel Garcia Marquez' "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" as our starting point for a fictive trial. While my friend delivered the speech for the accusation of the two convicts, I delivered the speech for their defense. I'll never forget that as soon as I had delivered the last word, the entire class rose up in a standing ovation and declared the accused acquitted. Shivers all along my spine !! I like to think I could still write such a piece if I really wanted, but I honestly doubt if I'd still have the touch like I had at that time.

3. Has anybody else noticed that the older you get, you start to cry more easily ? Well, I certainly do, and I don't mean to say rivers of tears, but I do tend to get more emotional, accompanied by the occasional tear. As I reported on in this post, last September was the first time since long I found myself crying over a book again. But it can just as easily happen in the car, driving to work, listening to this morning talkshow on the radio where people reminisce on the small and larger things in life and sometimes, just by something they say, it triggers off a feeling that comes from deep within and makes your eyes go red and wet. Or it can be just listening to a song. I had it for instance hearing for the first time Jeff Buckley sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", and again yesterday in Paris' Virgin Megastore listening to the voice of Portuguese fado-singer Maritza. Has it got to do with age, or am I just growing soft ?

On a sidenote to Richard: I haven't had it with Abba yet, but give me a couple of years more ...

4. When I neared the end of university, I vowed that I would try everything to stay out of the realm of the industrial world, and look at me today: almost 15 years in telecommunications, in the same company even. Life plays funny tricks on a man, which doesn't mean you're always in for the worst part of the deal. It's this company that sent me to China again for two years, couple of years after I had graduated from Shanghai's Tongji University. However, Shenyang was not exactly like Shanghai, if you know what I mean. Anybody been hanging around there for some prolonged time ? I would love to hear the stories. But still, like a lily rising from the mud in the pond, I found my wife there, gleaming amidst the dirt and the dust of China's industrial North. Hallelujah !!!

5. After my musical ambitions were not much of a success (I took theoretic classes for 2 years and then, just when I wanted to subscribe for trumpet and set off on a life of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll (or was that meant for another type of instruments ? Damn !!) , there were not enough subscriptions to organize the class. So that was the end of my trumpet days. I held a trumpet once, few years later, but after I didn't manage to extort any plausible sound from the instrument, I congratulated myself for having made a very wise decision at the time. So I stuck to volleyball, and I still do, for 25 years now. Fine sports. I wonder when there is ever going to be something like the NVA, so volleyball finally gets the airtime and publicity it deserves ... and so they wouldn't have to change the rules every second year all in name of making the game more attractive for television.

That's it, folks !

Now rests me the task to try and continue this thread by tagging some of the others in the chinese blogosphere. That may be the nasty part, as you will notice from the number of comments that my site is not (yet) attracting huge crowds of readers. Still, there is two people I would like to take a shot at out there:

1. Sam, over at "The Useless Tree", for bringing some little marvels of wisdom and reflection to this blogging circle.

2. otherLisa at "The Paper Tiger" (but I guess just as much at "The Peking Duck"), for being my very first commenter ever, and for her very human touch in all her comments and musings.


richard said...

Really great stuff - it sounds like we have a lot in common. Not everybody can cry at the sound of a voice or the beauty of a sentence. Some see it as a weakness, I see it as a gift from God. Really. Let me know if you'll be in Beijing anytime soon.

Lao Lu said...

Hey, Richard, thanks for checking in and I'm glad you liked the post. I think it is the same feeling of having certain things in common that drives me to TPD every day. Now it is not very likely that I'll be in Beijing anytime soon, but you remember that thing about life and the tricks it plays ? So never say never, and if I would, I'll be sure to contact you.

Other Lisa said...

Lao Lu, thanks so much for your kind words. I've noticed the crying more as I get older phenomena too! The weirdest things make me teary-eyed any more. Stuff like the TV show "Cold Case." And at least one story in the paper per day.

Other Lisa said...

and p.s., I have fulfilled my "Five Things" obligation...

Lao Lu said...

"Cold Case" ? Doesn't really sound like a tearjerker, but then again, I don't know the show :-)