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436 days

November 27, 2012

意. línggǎn. inspiration.

Chinatown, New York

Over one-year has passed since any sort of content has been posted. 436 days.  Life is different now.  It has moved forward, relentlessly, as time does. Whatever substance the past is made of is left behind, enveloped in the memory of experiences, people, places, passions & interests. Many memories are forgotten, lost completely or hazy. And some, like the seeds of spring, are idly rooted, waiting patiently for a right moment to surface into being.

Poetic prose aside, its been a damn long time since I’ve written anything of substance here.  I’ve been living in New York City, my hometown, and away from the People’s Republic since December 2011.  I originally created this blog to share my experiences while living in China.  I convinced myself  from the very beginning that words were only valuable if I was physically present. That otherwise I am suddenly an outsider looking in — an observer rather than a participant.  In A Mortal Flower, Han Suyin described that it was the smell of the countryside and the fragrance of the peasants that was more real to Mao Tse-Tung than all else. That despite all the power that he cultivated along the way, the poets heart remained where it began, in the rural villages where sensations of the countryside inundated and filled his senses.

I too am familiar with the sharp scent of village burning rubbish, or cigarette scented economy-class cabins. I have felt the warmth of roadside noodle shops in bitter winters, and awoken in the morning dew of rolling grasslands.  Yet I also know the view from the rooftop of Shanghai and the sensation of sipping tea on high speed trains.  These contrasts, contradictions and differences are as unique in China as they are anywhere in the world, and life.  Perhaps I was always an outsider, after all, when does a foreigner actually become an insider, if ever?

Today I found myself sitting on a workers bench in Chinatown (NYC) as a Chinese man fixed a defect in my shoe. I frequent this part of lower-Manhattan on a daily basis. In these ten-minutes, as I watched the activity around me, I realized something–nobody here seems to feel like an outsider. None of these Chinatown inhabitants, workers, and people carry on like foreigners. The European couple with a map unfolded in their hands are the foreign visitors. The tourists being persuaded to have lunch one block away at the restaurant in on Mulberry street are the the outsiders–not the Little Italy American with the wannabe Soprano accent doing the persuading.  The temporary visitors paying $350/night for a hotel are the outsiders–not the taxi-driver from Ghana who shuttles them from one destination to the next.   In Manhattan and the five-boroughs, generations of foreigners have created a demographic unlike anywhere on our planet. This is my birthplace–a home for foreigners and natives alike. And as I sat outside on the corner of Grand and Mott Street with the Chinese shoemaker, with whom I share this block with, I realized that this blog space should not remain idle.  Let experience be, for in time, words written are never lost.

As always, thank you for reading…

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 27, 2012 8:21 pm

    Welcome back

    ( :

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