rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » An Indian brick in the Great China Wall

An Indian brick in the Great China Wall

March 28, 2014 10:34 IST

An Indian brick in the Great China Wall

     Next

Next
Aseem Chhabra

Aseem Chhabra travels to China, where he is delighted to find, that there is a little bit of India, almost everywhere he goes.

I was in the massive Forbidden City complex in Beijing last Friday when I noticed two men -- one white and the other black, dressed in dark suits. My instinct told me they were United States Secret Service.

I turned to my companions -- Canadian Carole Lackey and her daughter Emily Clark -- and mentioned that some famous American was coming to The Forbidden City. Perhaps, it was US Secretary of State John Kerry.

It was not until we stopped to get ice coffee -- the midday sun was getting warm -- and after the guy behind the counter had figured out that I was an American, that he told us: "Your First Lady will be here soon."

Carole and Emily jumped with excitement. "What, Michelle Obama is coming here?" they both asked. I had not followed the news and I have to say I was somewhat excited as well. I have never seen President Obama and his wife in person, and I somehow feel close to them.

Suddenly, it seemed as if a member of my family was going to be there. My Canadian friends decided they were going to wait for the First Lady to arrive. We waited for about half an hour before a group of young Chinese soldiers and perhaps their secret service closed a substantial part of the courtyard.

Please click NEXT to read further...


Image: Guards at the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Photographs: Aseem Chhabra

     Next

'Wow, so I am actually on the Great Wall of China'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Aseem Chhabra

At one point, they pushed the crowds (by now, there were a couple of hundred people, mostly Chinese) towards the edge of the courtyard.

We waited in the heat. I moved around and took pictures, then came back and waited more. During this wait -- more than an hour -- I heard some men speaking English in North American accents. They were part of a Canadian basketball team. And they too were waiting for Michelle Obama.

Then, when it started to feel like a long wait, we noticed a flurry of activity in the distance. About 40, 50 people walked at the other end of the courtyard. We could not identify them from where we were standing.

Apparently, Michelle was in that group, with her mother Marilyn Robinson and daughters Malia and Sasha. The First Lady did not walk in our direction. In fact, we never saw her.

The morning before, my hotel arranged for a group to visit the Great Wall of China. It was a two hour drive from our hotel -- a rather remote part of China in the middle of the mountains.

The Wall itself was everything I had ever imagined -- a giant structure snaking its way around the mountains. It was exhilarating and perhaps one of the most exhausting experiences for me, with endless steep steps. I took several breaks to catch my breath and stare at the sight in front of me.

"Wow, so I am actually on the Great Wall of China," I said to myself a number of times.

Please click NEXT to read further...


Image: Aseem Chhabra at the Great Wall of China.
Photographs: Aseem Chhabra

Prev     Next

Aishwarya Rai in China :)

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Aseem Chhabra

Heading down the Wall, I saw a middle-aged Bengali woman, with a man, who was presumably her husband. I heard her speak Bengali and the sindoor in the parting of her hair was enough to tell me what part of India she was from.

I then saw a group of tourists who may have been Indian, until a young teen spoke, "Papa, papa idhar aao (Papa, come here)."

On all my travels I look for signs of India and it certainly felt good to hear an Indian voice deep inside China.

Two days later, I was with another friend walking on Beijing's long, narrow, touristy street Nan Luogo Xiang with shops, and small eateries and cafes on both sides.

Right at the end, after we had walked the full length of the street, I noticed a street vendor selling agarbattis and small gift items, all from India.

I later learned that the sign in Chinese read: 'Things from India'.

And along with the sign was a lovely photograph of Aishwarya Rai.

I had finally seen a significant sign of India in Beijing!

Please click NEXT to see some more interesting features...


Image: A photograph of Aishwarya Rai is displayed along with agarbattis at the Nan Luogo Xiang street in Beijing.
Photographs: Aseem Chhabra

Prev     Next

TOP photo features you missed last week

Prev     More

Click on MORE to see another PHOTO feature...



Tags: 1

Prev     More