I never really knew much about China, neither its culture nor its history, unless you count what I gleaned as a young kid from the incredulous antics and mysterious caperings of imposter china men in Monkey
and Kung Fu
! Ah young Grasshopper, you too young remember?
Ha ha –very much showing my age here and digressing, as usual, but do any of you remember Monkey? “Born from and egg on a mountain top. The punkiest monkey that ever popped”? It was filmed in China but was a Japanese production made with Japanese actors and dubbed into English. It sold as a cult series to Great Britain and Australia, where, I believe, despite ludicrous acting it was a total hit (typical). There were only a couple of seasons in the late 1970s but I remember them vividly and fondly. The series, surprisingly, was based on an actual Chinese novel by Wu Cheng’en called Journey to the West
which was written during the Ming Dynasty and based on traditional folktales fo China. I’m thinking of putting this on my reading list if I can find a nice and happily reviewed translation. It is available through Amazon, as you can see from the link, it might be where I have to go –we’ll see.
Anyway back to the coincidences (which is what I was getting at in the title of the post but it sounds better than it reads if you know what I mean?). During the geography class that I have mentioned several times, China was covered, and in a fair amount of detail compared to some other regions of the world, but barely skimmed in terms of its size, massive population (did you know that a quarter of all people on earth live in China?) and extensive history. There was also another student in the class, Kelly, who is working on her Masters and specializes in Chinese and Japanese history. The projects she chose were naturally based there and this, with her obvious enthusiasm and a passion and skill for teaching, fuelled my interest and undoubtedly expanded my previously limited horizons in an oriental direction.
As those who have read my blog before may know, one of the books on my to read list was The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and it was coincidental that around the time of covering China in class I found a copy of the book in Bookman and read it. This was a treasure when it comes to padding out personality and culture in pre-war China and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I have since picked up another Amy Tan (but this is not about China so I digress again. Sorry!).
By now you’re thinking “not much coincidence here” aren’t you? Fast forward to last Sunday and I’m of to the movies with Eva to see The Mummy (which I’ve been thinking of as Mummy III and not really noticing that they have changed tack and moved off to China).
WARNING details of movie follow…
Anyway the Dragon Emperor in the tale is loosely based on the Emperor Q’in
(about whom I learned). I say loosely, because as far as I have heard, he was noted for unifying China and establishing bureaucracy and not for being an evil wizard, cursed by a witch and encased in clay only to rise in again the 1940s and become, the Mummy III in a chase for immortality at Shangri la. However, he did start the building of the Great Wall and have a terracotta army buried in his tomb that is an ongoing excavation project so there are definite similarites.
After enjoying the movie I took Eva home and she produced a movie for me to borrow that she said she thought I would enjoy. Of course she was probably influenced to think of this movie because we had just watched one set in China, but I didn’t know it because she didn’t say so. The movie was the Painted Veil
. It is based on the book by Somerset Maugham
but its not one of his that I have read. When I put the movie in and hit play of course it was set in China. So that was the second helping of Kuomintang
references and pre-runners to the CCP
that I encountered that evening. Nice movie, by the way!
Afer watching the movie I went to my desktop to check my email prior to hitting the sack and a BBC news alert
blinked onto the screen with a dramatic flourish of alert music, as I woke it from its hibernation. Now things were really starting to be succession of chinese coincidences popping in quick time into my weekend. The news story that immediately appeared was about the 16 Chinese Policemen killed in an attack near the border in the Kashi region
. I went to bed wondering why China was so prominently on the agenda for me today (with all the other things happening in the world!) and I dreamed, somewhat exhaustingly, a mish-mash of whirling martial arts and Jet Li film flashes, merged with a disturbing and repeating “wax on wax off ” soundbite from the Karate Kid and the English guy from Heroes narrating (I know they are Japan and not China but it was a dream!!!).
Well, I got up Monday without thinking about the coincidences. I got my coffee and cornflakes and sauntered to the sofa with excess lethargy and apathy to be truthful. I am now officially on vacation for 2 weeks prior to the fall semester at college and have all the time in the world and no pressure to do whatever I want, and absolutley no imagination or motivation to do anything at all. Marvelous.
I flicked on the telly to find the news and sipped my instant Nescafe and there staring back at me from the Great Wall of China was Matt Lauer’s pasty face. Really? The first thing I see of the day? I know the Olympics
are looming but still. Why was the TV even on channel 5? I had been watching FX last time I had it on.
So there you have it. I set the DVR to record the opening ceremony that promises to be spectacular in a chinese dragons and fireworks kind of a way (I think book club might finally happen Friday — maybe — possibly…) and went about my day. Thus ended my string of Chinese coincidences.
Not sure it warranted a whole post now looking back over it but don’t you ever have something like that happen? Whether real or perceived? A string of things that make you think ‘what the?’ I suppose its a bit like seeing pregnant women everywhere when you’re hoping to have a baby or your favorite chocolate being offered fourteen times in a row when you just gave it up for your third diet of the year. I can’t be the only one who has these experiences can I?
OK I’m done spouting rubbish for now. Thanks for stopping by and while I’m thinking about it — sorry for the inconsistent sometimes English and sometimes American spellings. It is the most frustrating aspect of being a transplanted Brit. I often find after 10 years that I can’t even remember which words and sayings I use are English and which are American, although the puzzled expression on my hubby’s face when I occasionally trot one out that he clearly has never heard before is priceless!
Have a lovely day 😉