Once again, back from China

I returned from China on Friday morning, bringing with me a lot of souvenirs, including a French couple who had not known that the time of our arrival had been moved back 24 hours and who could not make it back to Paris before shabbat. Fortunately, they, like the others who traveled with me this time, we completely delightful people who were very considerate of me and so when I conked out at dinner Friday night and then at lunch Saturday morning, understood that it wasn’t personal.

Unpacking is always an adventure since in China one always picks up a little bit here and a little bit there and the prices are so reasonable, we find ourselves going and buying even more when it dawns on us that we can get many many items for not so much money. And always, there is the excitement of finding out just how many little ethnic doll keychains or little girls’ purses or magnetic bracelets I have managed to accumulate here, there, and everywhere.

And every item is happy! A couple of years ago when we traveled to Hungary and Austria, even the few souvenirs we could have afforded were dour, heavy, muted– like the experience we had traveling there. China is full of light and life. In the nooks and crannys of little villages, there is light and color and joy. Red “good luck” tassels and lanterns dot the landscape. Drying on the roof are corn and red peppers. The children smile and say “Hello!” The adults gladly pose for pictures, often displaying the “V” sign with their fingers. Men and women carrying heavy baskets laden with fruits and produce from poles suspended over their necks smile and bow and one feels from them a joy in their lives.

The Chinese people have been through terrible times. Between the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, they saw starvation and death and devastation that dwarfs the experience of other nations. But there seems to be such a sense of happiness and purpose among the people. They are kind and helpful and despite having no language in common, they communicate with their visitors.

I always return from China with a feeling of wholeness, and each time I go, I anticipate it even more excitedly!

So now I am home, in the loving arms of my family, and looking forward to Thanksgiving and Hanuka but with the faint sound of the Chinese flute still echoing in my ears.

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  1. Sounds so wonderful. I’d love to make that trip one day. Just a heads-up. we have had a myriad of recalls of china’s products recently and especially if children are going to handle them, you must be careful that the paints are not toxic for kids or there are not very small parts that can choke kids. I don’t want to be a downer but I am also a grandma and a caring adult. so glad you were lucky enough to go and the others were lucky enough to go with you!

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