Monday, August 31, 2009

Punching through the Great Fire Wall

Slowly the research trip is coming together: already I have two contacts (an academic and a man organising a conference) and they have assured me that they will introduce me to other people once I am there. They've been very welcoming.

Now I have a few firm dates like flights, and a few more tentative ones like proposed train journeys, it is becoming easier to write emails to other people to see if they can meet me. But still so many seem not to get through - at least I send them and nothing happens. Maybe they get lost in the spam, or maybe the addresses have changed, or maybe they don't understand...or maybe they are just not interested. But I keep trying, and on the rare times I get a response it feels like a major triumph.

Meanwhile I have my books to read: at the moment I am finishing The Lure of China by Frances Wood (which seems appropriate). It is a glimpse of China through the ages and the various authors pick out details of everyday life which are interesting because they are so idiosyncratic. Ann Bridges, for instance (who wrote novels based on her life as a diplomat's wife to China in the 1930s), describes the whistles attached to the pinion tails of pigeons, and the the ethereal noise they make when they fly in the sky above. She then goes on to describe the flowers, and I am told that China is know as the 'Mother of Gardens' and 80% of England's garden flowers originated in China. Thinking about the magnolias, rhododendrons and water lilies we have in ours it seems obvious that these are Chinese now I think about it, and I'm not sure why I know this - perhaps from pictures I've seen on bamboo, or maybe painted on porcelain.


Anonymous marly said...

Good morning, Clare--I'm fresh back from the Carolinas and find you are going all the way to China! I am behind on my Dudmania...

Mon Aug 31, 02:21:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Heh, heh 'Dudmania' I like it (my usual state of mind).

Mon Aug 31, 02:41:00 pm  
Blogger Paul Halpern said...

That is fascinating that so many varieties of flowers come from China. I knew that much of the world's cuisine, particularly noodle-based and rice-based dishes, also arises from there. And, of course, there is the science and the philosophy. I'm sure it will be an incredible experience to get to know that culture better. Glad to read that you have been establishing more contacts there.

Tue Sept 01, 06:47:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, Paul - the science and the philosophy is quite astonishing - I read a book recently about Joseph Needham by Simon Winchester who spent his life investigating this aspect of the culture. It made fascinating reading in itself.

Tue Sept 01, 10:40:00 am  

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