Friday, August 25, 2006

Windows of the World

This Sunday morning Sunil and his relative Joe decided to visit Shenzhen, the place where I and George were staying. We decided to meet at a place called Windows of the World which is a major tourist attraction here.

I and George went to visit them at the railway station. This place is known as Windows of the World because it has replicas of all the worlds’ famous monuments. At the entrance it self there was a replica of the Ashoka Chakra. As we entered this place, I did not realize it was so big, but at the end, even one complete day was not enough to watch all the monuments. We seen replicas of the White house, Twin towers, Sydney harbor, Niagara Falls, Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower, Egyptian pyramids, Buckingham palace, and so on.

There were restaurants inside this place. So we had lunch at one of these food joints. I and Joe did not enough the food that much. This was the second bad experience if I may say with the food here. We had ice-cream and then continued visiting all the monuments. We tried removing our snaps with all these replicas. In between a Chinese girl wanted to remove her snap with me, for which I willingly agreed. There was also this father who wanted to remove snaps of his kid with us.

A day’s visit to this place was really not enough. We were taking breaks between all these sightseeing. Sunil had brought a lot of biscuits and cakes, which was a welcome refreshment on this trip. The number of monuments that were created were breathtaking and it had taken a lot of investment and effort to achieve this final result. This place truly deserves the attention of visitors and native alike. In between we also saw an Indian arrow shooting place. Here we had to pay a fee for purchasing the bows and arrows. I for one only managed to hit the target once in my ten attempts and that to at my tenth attempt. It was a feeling like: Better late than never.

We decided to attend our day by attending one of the final programs for the day. It was a stage show and they were performing acts related to the history of different countries. It was a truly enjoyable day and was worth every Yuan we paid for this visit.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hong Kong

I and George had to renew our visas and so we had to visit Hong Kong. So we decided to go on 29th July. Abdul also decided to accompany us as he knew this place better.

So we met at Shi Ji Juan station at about 10:20 A.M. I and George had taken a bus to reach this station. From Shi Ji Juan station we took a metro train for Luo Hu. This journey took us about 40 minutes. This place is the border between China and Hong Kong and one needs to go through the immigration formalities here. Once we finished with all the necessary formalities of immigration, we decided to see some shopping malls in HK. So we caught a train for East Tsim Sha Shui. This took us another 40 minutes or so.

As it was already lunch time, we decided to convert the currency in HK Dollars and visited an Indian restaurant. We had rice, dal and chicken tikka here. (I know your mouth would be watering now, what with me always updating you about the food I had.) After lunch we went to some shopping malls. George wanted to purchase a digital camera, so he got a pretty good one here. I realized that HK was a really expensive place for shopping. All international brands were sold here and there were no sales right now. I did not want to return empty handed so purchased some toys for my niece and nephew.

We then caught a ferry to go to the main HK Island. Some of the biggest apartments were in this place; it was an 88 storey building. This place really looked spectacular at night. We then went to McDonalds and after visiting some places nearby decided to return for home. In terms of shopping, this place was not fruitful as clothes out here were really very expensive. I think if I ever were to visit HK again, I should make it a point to be there when there are heavy sales or else only if I am a millionaire.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Relationship Problem

During the conversation in Sunil’s house, we happened to come across some topic which was a bit funny in nature. Because of the Chinese government’s one child policy, many problems will arise in the near future.

Out here as the son/daughter is the only kid in the house, relations such as brother or sister don’t exist. Because the kid’s parents do not have any brother or sister of their own, the kid has no cousins. After the kid becomes old enough to marry, and when he marries he has no brother-in-law or sister-in-law as his wife had no brothers or sisters. So other than the grandparents on either side the kid has no other relations. So effectively a family comprises about 7 people. (Grandfather (2), Grandmother (2), Husband, Wife, and Kid). People here don’t follow any religion and also no one is interested in politics.

People here are only concerned with their economy and development. (Actually the root of problems in India which if I may say, religion and politics actually doesn’t exist there.) Another problem is China’s aged population. Husband wife have to effectively support a family of 7. Rising costs are adding to their burden.

Even though I see many advantages I also see an equal number of disadvantages. The kids out here are a pampered lot. The one child policy may help keep the population in check, but with no religion and small families and no brother-sister love, the kids become very arrogant.

The kids have not heard of god and have never felt brother-sister love. Can we live this way?


Last week while having lunch in the office I and George met David. He asked us if we were from India and we had a good conversation. He asked us if we could join him and others for a discussion which they have once a week. We decided to accept his invitation for the following week. They have this meeting every Tuesday after office hours in one of the meeting rooms.

As the following week Abdul also joined us, we 3 went to attend this discussion. They welcomed us by giving a round of applause and said they were really happy to welcome their Indian brethren. There were about 15-20 people here. This group calls themselves the English Corner. We formally introduced ourselves to them and they did the same. During this discussion I came to know why the staff in this company had English names. The company’s policy is such that when a person joins the organization they provide them with an English name. It sounds very strange, coz who would like to be known by a name which he/she had no relation with till they completed their graduation. This policy was in place so that when foreigners would come to their company it would be easier for them to remember the English names rather than the Chinese one.

The people out here were very excited to know about India. Some of the questions might sound ridiculous, but these were really asked. I am just stating some of these here.

Q1) Does real life in India differ from reel life? (This was asked specifically because they had seen girls and boys singing and dancing in Indian movies.)
Q2) If a boy has more money can he marry more than one wife?
Q3) Why do Indian girls win so many beauty contests?
Q4) Does the husband pay money to the bride while getting married or vice-versa?
Q5) How many servants does an average indian have in the house?

Some of their questions had us in splits, while for some we just didn’t have any answer. Though most of these guys speak in broken English, it’s encouraging to see them learning a language even though they know that it would hardly be used in the market there. Some of these guys were just learning so that they could communicate with foreigners and understand them. I know it would be difficult for these guys to improve their language as they hardly have access to English media. But did someone say, Nothing in life comes easy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A GOOD WEEK (23/07/06)

George’s college friend Sunil Philip was staying in a place called Guangzhou which was about 3 hours away from our apartment in Shenzhen. He happened to return to this place after a vacation in India. So we decided to meet him on the weekend of 22-23rd July.

(Picture left to right: George, Me and Sunil)

I and George left on Saturday morning at about 10:30 A.M and we reached Guangzhou at about 2 P.M. We needed a bus and 2 trains to reach this place. Sunil came to receive us at the station. We clicked some snaps near the station and then took a cab to his apartment. The flat which he stayed was on the 20th floor of a 30 floor apartment. His apartment was the best that I had ever seen. A Chinese maid had cooked chapattis, baigann ka bhartha and potato vegetable. After having a good meal Sunil took us to a place called Beijing Lu, this is a very good place for shopping. All international and local brands are sold out here. I was hardly able to control myself and I purchased many clothes. We were there here for about 3 hours, and then we went to a shopping mall. Most shopping malls here are at least 4- 6 floors. We spend an hour here and then went to a Muslim restaurant.

The food was good. I had beef kebabs, mutton kheema, chicken with cashew nuts and afghani bread. (Is your mouth watering?) The staff here were of the border areas and one could mistake them for Russians or Kashmiris. After having this heavy meal we returned home around midnight. We watched T.V and I slept at about 2 P.M after we had our gossip. However George and Sunil happened to sleep after 4 P.M.

The next day morning we all got up late, had a light breakfast and then went out to see some other shopping malls. We had lunch in a Hunan restaurant. The menu included beef mixed with some vegetables, rice and soya pannier and some mixed vegetables. After this we visited one of the biggest malls in Asia. After this we went to Sunil’s office. He was the manager of this office and so he had the keys. We then sat for an hour and then went to his apartment. We left at about 6:30 P.M. Sunil came to leave us to the station. We reached our apartment at about 10 P.M.

This was the best weekend I had in China, and I hope this is the first of many.

A Week in China (16/07/06)

It’s been a week since I landed in China, and I have really enjoyed my stay till now. At the start of this trip I knew that food was going to be a problem here. However one week has passed and I have not yet had an upset stomach. Every evening my colleague George cooks vegetables and rice for dinner. So this was like having home made food. In the afternoon at workplace we order meat curry and rice. This food is spicy just like our Indian food. So the food in fact has been very good.

(Picture top row left to right: George, Me, Allan, Abdul. Bottom row left to right: Carrol, Grace, Joline and Jessie)

My office timings here are 8:30 A.M to 5:45 P.M, Monday to Friday. There are some company buses that leave at 8 A.M, about 5 minutes from our apartment. So I wake up daily at 6:40 A.M and have bread and jam, bananas and a glass of vitamin C juice. Every evening when we return from work, we head straight to the supermarket, purchase some vegetables and some necessities and then return home. Because George takes care of the cooking, I only bother to fill my stomach.

The workplace is good. The first thing we do after entering the office is access the Internet. There is an Internet CafĂ© in the office, as we are not allowed to send mails from our work seat. Lunch is from 11:45 A.M to 1 P.M. The lights go off prior to lunch indicating that’s it’s a lunch break. People here finish their lunch in 15-20 minutes and take a nap. People here bring their sleeping stands to office. They just open these and go to sleep. Other than the 4-5 people we interact with, the others don’t really speak English. People here only speak the local language, so if we have to communicate with them, it’s definitely not possible.

Shopping at the supermarket is easy coz all products have their price tags displayed. It is better if one is able to locate the product he/she wants than to try asking for a product. Allan our project lead has provided us with 3 sheets of translation. It basically contains some information in English along with its Chinese translation. So if we want to know which bus goes from any place to our apartment we just show that paper to the people at the bus stop. Allan has been really very helpful. From the first day itself he has been helping us out in many ways.

The only scare I had this week was during the Mumbai blasts. Because of the time difference between India and China, (China is 2:30 hours ahead of India) I had already gone to sleep. George happened to watch the English news channel, so he woke me up o update about the same. I called up home soon after to find out about their safety. By next day evening I was able to confirm that all my friends were safe. It’s sad that about 200 or more innocent people lost their lives, but it was good to know that people continued with their lives as usual the very next day. Cheers to Mumbai’s never say die attitude. God is there to do justice to what is right and wrong. I know that he is watching all of this.

Just want to end this article as it starts to rain here. I think its going to be a wet weekend. But I don’t think it’s going to have an impact on us as we have to just eat, sleep and watch T.V. for the next 2 days. Bye for now.

First Two Days in China (09/07/06)

I was going to China via Bangkok and hence I knew in advance that the journey would be a bit hectic. George Abraham from the Bangalore division gave me company from Bangkok International Airport. After we finished with all the immigration formalities in HK and China, we finally stepped into China. We needed 2 flights, a bus and a car to reach our apartment in Shenzhen. As soon as we had stepped at the taxi stand after alighting from the bus, Allan from the client company was waiting for us with a placard displaying our names. He took us in a local taxi to the apartment we would be staying.

The apartment we were going to stay was a fully furnished house. It had a T.V, Fridge, Microwave, Dishwasher, Washing Machine, Cooking Gas and a Geyser. There were 3 bedrooms, I and George decided on our rooms while in the mean time Allan went to get some drinking water for us. Allan was heading the international marketing division for the product they were developing. I took bath and then had Maggie noodles which George had cooked in the microwave. In the evening Allan took us to one of the employee’s house who stayed near our apartment. This females name was Grace and Allan was updating me that she was unmarried and was pulling my leg. Grace offered us coconut juice and we then went out for dinner. The people in China have their dinner by 6:30 – 7 P.M.

The hotel which they took us was only providing chopsticks, so Grace went out to a shop to purchase spoons and forks. Allan ordered mutton, beef, chicken and some vegetables. I just had mutton fry and rice, as I did not like the way the rest of the food was cooked. I felt bad in a way as I did not want them to feel that I was not enjoying their food. But being the first day I was trying to avoid having an upset stomach. We went to one of the supermarkets and then came back home to end what was our first day in China.

Sunday morning we both got up quite late. I had jam and bread for breakfast. George then gave me some cash and told me to purchase rice and cooking oil from the supermarket. I managed to purchase this after performing some actions as the people out here doing speak Chinese. After coming home George cooked some rice and added some cooking masala which he had brought from India. In the evening Allan came to our house and took us to some different supermarkets. We did some basic shopping and returned home. Think will have sausages tonight. That’s all for the first 2 days in China.