One of my far-distance relatives went to China some 17 years ago to study MBBS in Chanthong University of Shaanxi province. After completing his post-doc research in 2006, he came back to serve ailing health sector of his home-country Nepal. In short span of time, he even managed to make remarkable contribution, injecting a new ray of hope among the health workers and service seekers.
Knowing his achievement from popular Nepali magazine, I got urged to meet with him. Last week from his Bir Hospital colleague I came to know that medical team he headed is now back to valley. His team had gone to conduct free health camps for quake affected people in remote villages of Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha districts. After giving pre-information from phone, on Saturday I made visit to his residence at Jorpati to congratulate him on his success and spent few quality hours with his family members.
On my query about China and China’s cities, he gave gentle smile and brought 12 thick albums and landed in front of me. “Photography and travelling is my passion,” he boasted. With admiration and awe, hastily I started to turn pages of the album. “Slowly, enjoy by feeling the beauty of each photo”, he suggested. Surprisingly, just after few minutes, he stopped me and ordered to close down the album. “You need description first” he added. In a couple of hours, starting from the ancient city of joyous singing Changsha to the city of mixed cultures Hong Kong, he briefly and excitingly described all 23 cities that he had visited in his one-and-a-half decade stay in China. While leaving he handed the albums and few postcards with a precondition to bring them back by the end of week.
Observing photos keenly and linking it with lively description of my relative, for the time being I lost myself to cities of China. Photos were speaking that the charms of China lie in its rich traditional cultures, ethnic customs, and the way they are managed into the modernization process. Considering rich history, city planners seemed to have put their utmost effort to protect and preserve the traditional and ancient elements of the city. Because of this, the environment and the layout of the city looked frequently embodying both the modern and ancient elements.
Photos taken at Lhasa, Lijiang and Beijing had something special to share. It looked that these cities have strong historical and cultural affiliation as compared to others. This might be a reason for them to be taken as “cultural symbols” of the country.
After viewing last photo, my head found no words that are concise enough to adequately describe the values of the cities in China. Despite inevitable modernization, unlike most cities of the first world, China cities have a profound relationship with history, art and culture that shaped them which cannot be portrayed in words and pictures. To experience the real wonders, there is no other way for an individual than to make visit.
(MA in Conflict, Peace & Dev. Studies, TU)