"Finding Myself in China"Leo Rosten in the Joys of Yiddish wrote that there is an old Jewish saying, that the difference between psychotics and neurotics is that while psychotics believe that 2 + 2 = 5 neurotics, although fully cognisant of the fact that 2 + 2 = 4, just simply can't stand it! Personally, I think there are a lot of neurotics in the world. When I read all the bad press Israel gets for it's Terrorism in Palestine, and compare it to the press coverage of the current situation in Lebanon, I can't help but think that the Media are neurotic.
I recently wrote an article at Magic City that was a cross between a social commentary and a photographic article on China. I have reproduced that article in the middle section of this article, which contains numerous photographs of myself and my life in China. (Yes I know! It's terribly narcissistic! The Photographs in this file are different to the ones in the Magic City Article.)
Serenity at the Huang He Lou in WuChang Wuhan
The Face of Opinion and Stubborness at DongHu Wuhan
In this Year of the Pig
One who looks like one.
Students can surprise you with their affection.
Even those who are not your students show surprising affection.
Male Bonding at it's Best - Hong Hu
Sometimes Teaching English is just so Rewarding - Hong Hu.
Referred to by myself and Chiara as the "Italian Students"
The boys took their Italian and English teacher for an outing in SuZhou.
Dining with Italians in the City of SuZhou China
Playing Majiang with friends in the countryside of Hong Hu.
Some Friends you have known for awhile.
Others you have just met - Hong Hu
Wuhan Christmas party with Students in their Room.
Hong Hu Christmas party with Friends in My Room.
Sometimes I travel in old boats (Chibi Crossing Hong Hu)
Sometimes I just Admire Modern Ships (Tianjin)
Living and Non-living Relics - Both non-sentient.
Qinchuan Pavillion - Hanyang Wuhan
Everyone likes to fool around with the foreigner.
Hubei TV & Radio University Wuhan
I just love this shot taken at Wuhan University
Staying Sane in China.
When I was at university studying Counseling, a lecturer one day asked my class if anyone would like to do a sanity test. Mine was the only hand thrown up. Everyone laughed because I was obviously and once again playing the clown. The lecturer asked me why I would want to do a sanity test. I told him that as I am being constantly accused of being crazy and delusional, that it would be nice to find out, one way or another, if I actually am. He then asked me what I would do if the results showed that I was not in fact, sane. I told him that I would go and get some help. Upon hearing this, the lecturer not only solemnly pronounced me 'sane', but added that he was not sure if he could say the same about the rest of the class.
Leo Rosten in the Joys of Yiddish wrote that there is an old Jewish saying, that the difference between psychotics and neurotics is that while psychotics believe that 2 + 2 = 5 neurotics, although fully cognisant of the fact that 2 + 2 = 4, just simply can't stand it! Personally, I think there are a lot of neurotics in the world.
When I read all the bad press Israel gets for it's Terrorism in Palestine, and compare it to the press coverage of the current situation in Lebanon, I can't help but think that the Media are neurotic. When I receive emails criticising me for writing something reflecting a 'negative side' to my experiences in China, I can't help but wonder if those same people find it offensive when they read various accusations made in the press about the government of China. After all, the government of China consists of Chinese people who (today) rise to power through the Chinese democratic electoral process. Why should one consider that Chinese politicians do not share the same values and perceptions of the Chinese people. Isn't that a rather neurotic perception? Or would that be psychotic?
Multiculturalism as a political dogma, is I think, also a neurotic phenomenon. Whilst it is just my personal opinion, having read a few articles recently concerning Mark Steyn's book "America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It" www.regnery.com I can't help but think that those who have criticised the man are also neurotic.
I received another email recently in which yet another reader complained that I am 'opinionated'. That remark seems to me to also be a little neurotic. After all, how can one write one's opinion, without being opinionated? The inherent characteristic of an article, is that it is one sided.Since the definition of 'opinion' is that it is 'A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof', it remains that an opinion is nothing but an opinion, and everyone can disagree with it. 'Opinionated' on the other hand, according to one dictionary definition, means: "with very strong opinions that one refuses or is very unwilling to change; stubborn". Without correction, debate or dialogue, one's opinion is hardly likely to change.
The Italian translation of opinionated looks like the English word 'dogmatic'. From Greek, dogma refers to belief, and one definition of dogmatic is: "Characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles". It seems to me that if an assertion is unprovable by virtue of no contrary proofs, then one is entitled to their opinion. Of course an arrogant assertion about an unprovable assertion, relates not just to the assertion, but to both the character and manner of the one making the assertion. Again, without demonstrable rebuttal, one is entitled to their opinion, whether stated arrogantly or not.
The question I ask myself is, 'Why, when an opinion article is by definition undebated, and particularly if the issue is demonstrably unprovable or unrebuttable, do people indulge in name calling those who publish their opinion?' Does not the statement: 'You are opinionated!' simply mean: 'I refuse to accept your opinion and you are wrong to refuse to accept mine?' When one living in a democratic environment understands that an opinion is an opinion, and that all are entitled to their opinions, is it not neurotic to rant and rail against the opinions of another? ("I know you have a right to your opinion - but I just can't Stand it!")
Recently I sent one email to five recipients, two of which did not respond. Two others responded with artfully crafted statements indicating their lack of interest in the email content, and one sent a strongly worded straightforward counter to the email content. That particular email required and deserved an honest and heartfelt reply, to which I also attached an advance copy of a second email that I was planning to send to all five. The person whose reply merited an immediate response, then sent another email demonstrating that the recipient intended to spend time considering the merits or otherwise of my reply. The two recipients who previously did not respond, again did not respond.
The two however who sent artfully crafted emails the first time, could not control their emotions long enough to compose emails similar to their first responses, and in doing so, showed what was below the surface of an otherwise pleasant and understanding demeanor, and in the process, revealed their true feelings/opinions.
In a free society, people are not only entitled to their opinions, and entitled to disagree with contrary opinions, but should not live in fear of doing so. In a totalitarian society however, society must accept the opinions of those who hold power.
From within that context therefore, it seems to me that charges of holding 'opinionated ideas' translates into nothing more than accusations of failing to submit to the prevailing attitudes of those in power, or perhaps more specifically, of those who want power. In a politically correct world, (whilst I concede that certain words are best not used), the prevailing trend is to prevent and/or punish those whose 'opinions' do not reflect our own.
It could be asserted that such people are 'emotionally abusive', for at every turn they not only deny the 'other person's' right to independent thinking and lifestyle, but their right to self determination and the right to maintain a healthy self image. In short, the 'abuser's' whole focus is to render the 'other', dependent in all things upon the abuser's good graces. In psychology, individual victims of emotional abuse need to extricate themselves from life's entanglements with their abusers, and to establish for themselves, their own emotionally healthy and independent lifestyle. In society as a whole however, it is difficult to escape the ubiquitous emotional abusers whose sole purpose in life it seems, is to make you not just miserable, but dependent upon them.
Great Wall and Ming Tombs
Tokyo and Forbidden City
Recently a person in my family wrote and asked why was I continuing to live in China. It was suggested that my life in China is nothing more than a form of escapism from my previous life in Australia. The observation would have had merit, had my intention to come to China been specifically related to my previous life at home. In fact, I came merely to kill one year of my life while I got my website up and running, and I only did so under persuasion from the brother who was living and working there. It was not too long after my arrival in China however, that I discovered that I felt comfortable in this culture.
My first two years were in the countryside, and this brought back fond memories of my childhood. As I began to make friends, I realised that they were in fact 'my' friends, not friends of a marriage partnership; something that is strained or lost with divorce. Furthermore, I discovered that I really did enjoy not having to listen to all the politically correct BS that goes on in western society. Additionally, seeing the state in which so many people lived, I gained a new perspective on all those things in my life, which I had previously thought to be so precious, or to which I had clung so tightly. Last but not least, I discovered that I finally had a job that I loved.
Some of my family are missing me; others could care less and still others are happy that I am happy. Life in the west is a very complicated thing; something from which I am grateful to be free. I love my family and my friends in Australia, but no matter how badly it might upset some of them to hear it, I just have to say that at 54 years of age, I am finally grown up, have a life, and am happy. We do not always agree with other people's opinions, but they do have a right to them. And if those people be loved ones, our disagreement does not mean that we stop loving them. The important thing to make sure of in all of our disagreements with strangers, friends and family, is that we remain emotionally healthy.
I do have strong opinions about a lot of things, and I am not afraid to write about my opinions no matter what they are, especially my opinions about "my experiences" in China. As I recently wrote, since coming to SuZhou, I have discovered a whole new dimension to life in China, that may temper some formerly held opinions. Whilst I do think that Current Western Culture is abusive, and while it may be true that my life as a westerner in China is a far easier one, I did not come to China to escape life in Australia. On the other hand, had I known what China was like a lot earlier, maybe I would have.
Maybe China is not yet a Utopia for either the Chinese or the Westerner, but if Mark Steyn is correct, it won't be long before it will definitely begin to look that way. By accident or Intelligent Design, I find myself happily living and working in China, and, as a wise man once wrote: "Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all of your might! I think that is good advice.
Then again, that's just my opinion!
Be healthy, live long, and Prosper!
Whether in my home (Hong Hu) or in dormitories (Wuhan), friends like to get together
Whether in Tanggu Tianjin or Wuzhen SuZhou -
The Water and the scenery are always attractive.
I mostly eat in peasant restaurants - but occasionally I like the more colourful
Now which of us is the Buddhist? - or is that Taoist?
Neither - but that didn't stop us visiting the Temple in Chibi Town.
Meeting and making friends in China is easy for the foreigner.
Whether a group of medical students in Xiantao
or local students in Chibi town (Hubei)
Catching up with old friends might mean travelling to Xiangfan
or maybe just travelling to the local town of Daishi (Hubei)
I love visiting Chibi Town (& Chibi City / PuQi)
It is just on the other side of the river from Hong Hu.
One meets many unique people (Li Tianhua) and animals (Red Panda) in China
Playing the fool or playing Ten Pin with Friends
Life in China is a happy affair.
Spring Festival reunions are always a blessing.
So too are walks in the countryside.
Not that SuZhou where I currently live does not have it's attractions.
sometimes I just like to climb mountain tops (Hangzhou) and ascend the Temples (Wuhan).
Whatever the view - it is nice to get away from the world.
Of course the Temples and Pagodas themselves are sometimes quite interesting.
Outside one in Chengdu and inside one somewhere else.
Travelling around however is not all fun and games.
Whether walking across the bridge at YiChang
Or ascending successive buildings on the mountains at West Lake Hangzhou
Everytime the downside of living in China gets a little too 'down' for me, all I have to do to cheer myself up is imagine myself living back in the West. Those few shuddering reflective moments are enough to set me back on the straight and narrow
Maybe that's why I really like China. Here I have friends who like me even if they disagree with my views.
I hope you enjoyed these photographs.
R.P. BenDedek Email: email@example.com
Moving to Suzhou by R.P. BenDedek February 21, 2015 (Transferred from Magic City to Kingscalendar in 2015)
I had been told many times that if I could be a successful teacher in Hubei, then I would find it so easy to teach elsewhere in China. I never understood what that meant, until I came here. These kids are a joy to teach, even though their English level is no better than the kids in Hubei. It really feels like I have been transported to a different country. Additional Photographs - Moving to Suzhou
Now I am not going to repeat the title here, but it showed a room in which plant roots are used to grow new plants. Unfortunately, whilst the caption may have been strictly correct in an Agricultural context, the words also constituted a very vulgar idiomatic expression in English. As the particular slide lit up on the big screen, there was an audible gasp from numerous people (including Chiara and I), followed by muted laughing and serious attempts by individuals not to break into hysterics. Additional PhotographsXiyuan and Hanshan Temples - and Tiger Hill Area
Dr. Ben-Shahar made a statement to the effect that people need to understand that it is from the journey itself that we derive pleasure, not the destination. In order to find balance in life, people must stop and take time out to look at the day's events, and see the joy that was in it. Far too often we only reflect on flaws and failures, rather than on joys and successes. True happiness is found in the many small moments in our lives, and we have to remind ourselves daily of all the things we are grateful for and appreciate.
I have to say it was a great honor to meet him, an honor that might have had more significance had I only known in which of the photo ops I actually did meet him. I'm guessing it was the guy who had both an English and Japanese translator trailing him.... Turning the camera on, I raised it and began to focus the lens. Just then a wave slapped against the side of the boat and my friends and I got drenched as water spurted up and in through the open window. By the time I recovered, wiped the lens dry, got the camera working, and focused, I had little time left to do a reasonable video, and no time at all to take any more still photographs.
This particular area in Suzhou is very scenic. There are plenty of sites to see even if you choose not to pay to enter them. This Stele is made of Shandong Jiaxiang Blue Stone, and composed of stele cap, stele body and stele pedestal. Its facade is engraved with Zhang Ji's (Tang Dynasty) poem To Moor at Night at the Maple Bridge inscribed by Yu Yue (Qing Dynasty); while the back is engraved with The Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra in Sanskrit) handwritted by Emperor Qianlong (Qing Dynasty). Additional Photo FilesPart 1.- and -Part 2.
Toward the end of dinner, some children spotted the foreigner and began coming to the door to say 'hello' 'hello' 'hello,' as they do, and then one little girl entered the room and handed out candy to us all. That was a first, as too was the cappuccino that I drank at a coffee house after dinner. I could swear it was an espresso. Ah! What would a foreigner know! Next morning we headed off to our next destination, the major places of interest of which (according to the 100 rmb entry ticket) are, Little Lotus Villa, Home of Zhang Shiming, Jiaye Library, Qiushuli Place, Home of Liu Tiqing and Ancient Stone Bridges. Additional Photographs inAncient Towns - Wuzhen, Nanxun and Tongli
Leo Rosten in the Joys of Yiddish wrote that there is an old Jewish saying, that the difference between psychotics and neurotics is that while psychotics believe that 2 + 2 = 5 neurotics, although fully cognisant of the fact that 2 + 2 = 4, just simply can't stand it! Personally, I think there are a lot of neurotics in the world. When I read all the bad press Israel gets for it's Terrorism in Palestine, and compare it to the press coverage of the current situation in Lebanon, I can't help but think that the Media are neurotic.
Celebrating 100 years - Suzhou Agricultural College: Chinese Education: Jiangsu Province: Centenary. This year marks the founding centennial of the Suzhou Polytechnic Institute of Agriculture, and yesterday Sunday 11th November 2007 there was an all day celebration of the event.
The Garden of Couple's Retreat. Located on the northeastern edge of the ancient city of SuZhou, the garden was first created in the early Qing period as a pleasure garden of Baoning Prefect Lu Jingzhi. In the 13th year of Tong ZhiReign (1874 AD), Shen Bingcheng, governor of Susongtai Region, acquired it and expanded it into the present scale.The park is located by one of the major canals on the North / East side of SuZhou. It is not far from the Old Water Gate, and right behind it is the SuZhou Zoo. I have been in YanCheng now for 6 months and no longer have a map of SuZhou from which to give precise directions. The entrance looks great from the overpass, but otherwise you wouldn't know it is there. I did take some photos of it at night when I was on the canal tour. That tour leaves from 'ShiLu' which is the 'small' walking street - not Guanqian Jie which is the big walking street.
Since that article was not about the Computer Repairs, I did not go into detail about what had happened. What happened in fact, was that there was so much wrong with my computer, that Mr. Kang used a spare casing and wot-not to 'recondition' my computer. I walked in with a thin silver 'no name' computer (it was a prototype), and walked out with a black IBM computer. Total cost was 400 rmb! The reason it was so cheap of course was that I really do not wish to buy a computer in China. A Chinese friend in Baotou got a Chinese Computer with a legitimate English program, but it still threw up Chinese pop-up messages. Mr. Kang told me that as long as I promised to return the computer once I went home next year and bought a new computer, then he was happy to do this for me.
I can say that the new computer cost me half of what I had expected to pay, and the money saved will almost pay for a special trip I'm planning to the other side of the country in October. We had our conversation on a Tuesday at about 11.45am at the end of March, and two days later on the Thursday, I picked up my brand new computer already loaded with all my programs. It also came with a gift of some high definition movies (Mr. Kang is able to provide 1500 HD Movies on an external hard drive.) If you are coming to Suzhou and you really NEED to buy a new computer, go talk to him. Maybe you just need some repairs - he'll fix you up. Maybe you want some High Definition Movies - he's the one to talk to.
You will arrive at Taipa House Museum Area with so much to see. If you want to go into the Museum you must pay. But there is also much to see outside. This is a museum beside the A-Ma Temple on Macao Island. This sits on the waterfront and you can see Zhuhai in China across the harbour.
Mt. Emei - The first day we climbed to 940 metres. The Second Day we took the bus up as far as the Cable car. just 200 metres or so below the summit. At over 3000 metres the clouds just kept coming and going. Rather like the tourists! Bloody tourists! Noisy nuisances! Don't know why they let them spoil the tranquility!
In the temple, there are many places of cultural and historical interest. Tianwang (Heavenly Kings) Hall, Guanyin Hall, Wuyou Hall and the Arhat Hall are solemn in ancient style, Kuangyi Pavilion is charm and elegant. On Erya Terrace you can overlook the river, while in Tingtao Pavilion, you can enjoy the music of the current. If you want to see how the three rivers meet go to Jingyun Pavilion; to enjoy flowers, butterflies and singing birds, go to the Plum Garden. What is mostly worth mentioning is that it is the temple and the hill on which it stands that form the hesd of the Giant Sleeping Buddha.
Many people say that my cursive Chinese writing is just terrible scribble. Now I know that they are just jealous because I have mastered a unique form of calligraphy. Du Fu Selected Poems Translated by Rewi Alley Foreign Languages Press 2001
(Note: Chiara Braccagni's articles are in both English and Italian)
A una di queste chiamate, ci fermiamo a fianco a una coppia di giovani. Non solo i due incauti avevano diversi sacchetti, ma portavano con sé anche una torta. Dopo varie discussioni con la bigliettaia perché la torta nel pulmino proprio non ci stava, provano ad aprire il finestrino e a passarla alla ragazza seduta di fronte a Justine. Visto che non riuscivano a spostare il vetro, sporgendomi, faccio alla bigliettaia: "Lo faccia passare da qui" (okkei, va bene, ho detto solo "da qui", il resto della frase era sottinteso!). Io, anima ingenua, credevo che una volta saliti i due giovani avrebbero trovato il modo di riprendersi la torta. E invece no! Mi sono fatta una decina di chilometri di strada sterrata con una torta gelato sulle ginocchia! E giusto per renderla ancora più precaria, era una torta a due piani con complesse decorazioni, tra cui un drago giallo con occhi e baffi di cioccolata. Avevo il terrore di spetasciarla. A questo punto, però, ridevamo da non riuscire più a respirare.
Built in 1406-1420, The Imperial Palace, popularly known as the Forbidden City, was the permanent residence of the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It's buildings are divided into two parts. The front part, or the 'outer court', consists of Tai He Dian Hall, Zhong He Dian Hall and Bao He Dian Hall, which are taken as it's main body, plus Wen Hua Dian Hall and Wu Ying Dian Hall, which are taken as it's two wings, Where the Emperor held important ceremonies
If you do an internet word search for Badaling, you will find many addresses to choose from in your pursuit to know more about the Great Wall. After leaving the great wall we traveled to the Ming Tombs. Unfortunately we never got to go into any because there was a good deal of restorative work being carried on at that time. One of the lesser appreciated side effects of the 'Cultural Revolution' was the amount of malicious damage done to these tombs and other relics of China's past, and our guide was quite open in informing us of some of these events. Such a pity
After years of living in China, I finally got around to organizing a trip to Tibet. I was due to pay for the trip at the End of June and I was to go in October during the Chinese National Holiday. If you have been wondering why the Chinese Government put a ban on foreigners going to Tibet, then now you know the reason. It was to stop me! Alleyways and Streets are more narrow than the canals in Xitang Town ZheJiang. Once we cleared the bars it quieted down. Now this is where I point out why the title of this article has 'Clown' in it.
Qing Ming, means clear and bright in Chinese. It is both the fifth term in the traditional lunar calendar and a festival to hold memorial ceremony for the dead. Being as how I was the only white face in the crowd, the Chinese attendants jumped on me, baptised me, confirmed me and handed me the brochure with all the church services times listed on it. They wanted to know if I was Catholic or Christian. Usually I just tell people I am a Muslim, and it makes them think twice. This time I said something that I regretted. Ha! I'm not telling you what I said!
I provide here two links from which you may glean information should be coming to Yancheng and decide to stay at the YanFu Hotel. The Hotel is located in the very heart of YanCheng near to Da Tong Ma. "Ben" - Guo Haibin - Advertising Manager at the YanFu Hotel on the left.
Do you know how to Samba? You do? Well you know how you have to bend the knees and at the same time push your bum down so that you do a pelvic thrust - yeah? Well I gave my teacher two options. I could bend my knees or do a pelvic thrust, but not both at the same time. He told me that I would eventually learn it. Surprise Surprise! By the end of my second night I had it figured out, and let me tell you - it is not a pretty sight! I should know - I have to watch my self in that monstrous bloody mirror!
Xiangfan is a historical and cultural city in the southwest of Hubei Province. It has an area of 26.7 thousand square kilometers and a population of 6.75 million. The central part of Xiangfan is a plain. The rest are mountains and hills. Xiangfan has a subtropical monsoon climate with an annual average temperature of 15.8C, and has 240 frost-free days. Annual rainfall averages 878 millimeters.
, 2006My Student friend has already 'cheated' in 4 exams this school year. Well, he doesn't actually 'cheat', he just 'pretends' to be someone else, and does their exams for them. It's a simple process really. They merely substitute photographs in their identity cards. The first thing I had to tell him was that the reason I seem so happy, is that if I allowed myself to be controlled by all the 'negatives' that surround me, I would have to quit my job and go home. 'The Secret of Being Happy', I informed him, 'is that happiness comes from within you. It is not the result of happy experiences.'
You may find this hard to believe, but Chinese students can memorise a 20 minute monologue - perfectly. They memorise their lesson texts. They might understand nothing. They certainly cannot commence at paragraph two or three: they must start from the first word and go through to the end. However, they can memorise perfectly. So this is what these two girls did.
Definition: King's Calendar Chronological Research
The Premise: Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE (but continuing down to at least 104 BCE), Sectarian redactors transcribed the legitimate 'solar year' chronological records of Israel and Judah, into an artificial form, with listed years as each comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, or 336 days per year, thus creating a 13th artificial year where 12 solar years existed.
When the Synchronous Chronological Data provided in the Books of Kings and Chronicles for the Divided Kingdom Period are measured in years of 336 days, the synchronisms actually align. [Refer to Appendix 5. to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]
About the KingsCalendar Publisher
R.P.BenDedek is the owner and Editor of KingsCalendar.com which was originally set up to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran'.
Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah.
Check the Chapter Precis Page to see details of each chapter and to gain access to the Four Free to Air Chapters
R.P. BenDedek writes social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both at KingsCalendar, and as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News in Maine USA.
(He has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003 and currently (2015) is teaching in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province.)