I write to you, head and ears full of Chinese fireworks sounds. Bzz……. poum….It is Chunjie, Chinese New Year, where the streets of Beijing are for once empty and belong to the wild crowd of fireworks and firecrackers lovers. All night, we have seen lights and colours and we have jumped, surprised by unexpected noises. It is a strange impression, that of a big city, usually full of cars, now as deserted as a ghost city. It seems that everybody in Beijing has left to visit family in the countryside or to fly overseas. We can drive freely everywhere. So comfortable…! Like in a dream…..! Every shop is closed. So incredible for a city of traders and shoppers, usually alive 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! I feel like I felt 30 years ago when I first visited China in the 80’s.
Seated in front of my computer, I am thinking about my son Jules, so happy and tired after a week of exams, when he came back from Montreal for Christmas break. He slept nearly 18 hours and dreamed aloud of mathematics and formulas. I was almost worried that he had become crazy overseas! It is already a month and half ago that he left again after one week together in Bali (Indonesia). His short stay has given us our family balance back. We recovered after 3 months of missing him, an emotion similar to the physical impression you get when you have lost a tooth, you know, of there being a hole in the mouth that you feel every time you eat or move your tongue.
My teenage twin daughters, on seeing him in the airport exclaimed together spontaneously: “he is the same. He has not changed!” True and untrue, I guess. Though his face is the same, he has also grown up, matured. He is already preparing for his second year, looking for his own apartment with a friend downtown, searching for a work placement for the summer.
He is learning to be an adult. I am proud of him and relieved.
Anne Garrigue is a McGill Parent, journalist and writer who lived in North Asia for 17 years (eight years in Japan, three in South Korea and five in China). She is currently editor of Connexions, a Franco-Chinese bilingual online economics magazine published in Beijing at http://www.connexions.ccifc.org/.
Her latest book, “De pierres et d’encre, chine au pays des marchands lettres” (Of Stones and Ink: China and the country of the literati merchants), has just been published by Editions Philippe Picquier. She has also published several works on Japan (“Japonaises la révolution douce” and “Japon, la fin d’une économie” (Japanese women: a soft revolution and Japan: the end of an economy) ) , and on the impact of Asian culture in France (“ l‘Asie en nous” (The Asia in us) )