Sunday, May 17, 2009

5 years ago today, may 17

(Warning, there are a lot of pics in this post.  As a bonus, there are a few seconds worth of video clips at the bottom.)

May 17, 2004 saw:
[This first batch is from Phil, he got some beautiful, much more artistic shots.  They are all from Wu Zhen, a small village which relies heavily on the canals which serve as its streets:]

The trademark fabric painted only in the small water village of WuZhen.

The gondolas which transported us in this beautiful town.

I, however, was much more of a tourist and took much less classy and probably annoyingly invasive shots, but I did get some fascinating images of people going about their daily business.
I these photos were all lost with the broken memory card; I never got to see them before they were lost.  When I got them back last year, I was surprised to see what I had, but sadly don't remember a lot of the detail that memory should have put with them.

I just realized that these dates are probably not particularly accurate; I don't think I updated the internal date on my camera before I snapped my shots; therefore it's idea of what date it was could be off by quite a lot.  Not that it matters a whole lot, but I figured it was worth pointing out.  

A monument to the people not far from Wu Zhen, which we passed on our way back to the Theater Academy.

more Wu Zhen streets.

As we passed through town on the gondola, I was able to get a glimpse of people going about their business.

Fellow Tischies, Alan (posing) and Hassan, Alan was the TA on our trip.

Me and one of the many people who wanted to take a picture with me.  We had been warned ahead of time that the people in the area tended to come from more isolated areas, and many had never seen blondes or black folks before, and might be either ooked out or intrigued.  We certainly did get a lot of attention, one way or the other.

Later on in the trip, Laura and I were talking about this phenomenon and how many people wanted to take our pictures or take pictures with us.  Leon overheard us, and told us that it's because our hair matches our skin. While the skin and hair tones and textures vary wildly among ethnically chinese, the one thing that is consistent is that the hair is darker than the skin.  Blondes are all skin-colored, black people are all hair-colored.  And he also admitted that, though he'd had us both in his class for the past 6 months, he still couldn't tell us apart. "you look the same to me," he said "I can't see which is which!" 

Laura and I in Wu Zhen

One of our teachers, Leon, lighting incense at the temple in wu zhen

In the temple

In the temple

The tischies in courtyard of the temple

In the temple

The locals observing the observers

We took a tour of this place in Wu Zhen...I don't remember what it was now, but I remember that it was fascinating and I felt so privileged to be able to see it all, and that the staircase just out of frame was treacherously steep, and that I found the sign pictured seemed to have several meanings, which I appreciated.

Bean!  The woman in the foreground's name was Bean, and I'd wrongly forgotten about her until I saw this photo this evening...She was a guide from the theater academy that I was totally tickled by...if I recall correctly, she was a very bubbly, friendly person with a quick wit, whose english was enthusiastic but not always entirely correct, which just added to her cuteness.

I believe this was an apothecary in Wu Zhen

(I think I stuck to white rice for this meal.  Having allergies in strange places where you only partially speak the language can be somewhat terrifying.)

Leon, who was the head of the film department at Beijing Normal University, split his time between Beijing and New York City so he could also teach at Tisch.  This entire trip was largely 
done via him.  Anyway, here he is, documenting the whole thing.  I wish we could have seen the final footage!

A local woman, one of many we saw, washing her clothes in the canal as we passed.

Also from the gondola, showing how the local folks also use the canal for refrigeration.

This curious gentleman came to the door as we passed, I don't remember much about the encounter but it sticks out in my mind enough that, upon seeing the picture, I thought, "oh, him!!"

That night, we all went out to a bar/club, I think to celebrate someone's brithday.  Phil seems to disapprove of that cocktail.
Tequila shots. oh my.

Starting with this pic, these photos are from Jing An Park, where a couple of us went for a long walk, seeing all the various forms of Taiji, traditional dances, and board games people were playing.  I think this may have been the next day, but it says the 17th and I don't remember well enough so I'll stick 'em here.  We met this gentlemen there, after noticing that he was walking backwards through the park, he came over to talk with us about meditation and taiji.  Turned out he spoke excellent english and was a teacher, and we spent quite a while talking with him and a friend/colleague, and they demonstrated some stuff for us and gave us some life advice.


Private lesson in the park.  There were several that we passed, as well as many very unique forms of mediation and taiji, like our backwards-walking friend, where people did whatever they could to kep the practice up, proper forms or no.

I didn't take any photos today, so I'll leave you with a few, very short, video clips that were also recovered from the memory card.  Sadly the ones I was most hopeful of retrieving didn't make it; but at least I can share these with you:

And one more...see if you can spot our friend!