Jane B (knally) wrote,
Jane B

A Chinese Year

I've just been watching Antiques Roadshow, and when a Japanese bell was being displayed I recognised a couple of the characters that they did a close-up of, including 'sun' and 'seven' which I was surprised and pleased about. Surprised, since I hadn't realised how many Chinese characters were common to Japanese, and pleased since I've been learning Mandarin for the past few months and some of it has sunk in!

It also reminded me that I've been meaning to put up a post about the Chinese things I did in the past year, so for those who are interested, there's more

The first thing was in January when I went to see the Terracotta Warriors which was an unique experience, standing next to those ancient figures.

In March kaffirlimeleaf sent me Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong, which was an interesting book about a student who goes to Mongolia during the time of the cultural revolution. It was a fascinating look at the Chinese history of the time, the nomadic live and the destruction of the environment in the 20th century. I found the style a little difficult to get into at first, but when the protagonist adopts a wild wolf cub it becomes more involving as, with the author, we wonder if the wolf can be domesticated.

In May there was the terrible event of the Chinese earthquake which created a human connection to the people. For a reminder of some of the stories of that time look at the comic strips about the earthquake by Coco Wang there are twelve of them, mostly very moving but also a couple of amusing ones at 9 and 10.

In August there was a request at work for mentors of IBM China employees, mostly so they could practise their English and learn about British culture, and since then I've been corresponding with a young man in Beijing. When I say young, I mean I'm old enough to be his mother (!) but luckily we're managing to exchange views on the films we see :-)

My brother leant me 1421 by Gavin Menzies which was a very interesting book about the exploratory fleets that China sent out at that time. The maps and evidence remaining show that they explored America, and Australasia as well as up to Greenland. Unfortunately politics back in China prevented them from following up the voyages, so we're left with might-have-beens.

In October I started Mandarin lessons at work, it's informal training given by some of the Chinese people who work in Hursley. I'm picking up some of the simpler characters, but I'm finding the pronounciation very difficult, and I'm sure the teachers are finding it hard to live with as well!


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