The International Writers
Magazine: China - From our Hacktreks Archives
Inside I step back
in time to another era, bamboo blinds cover the windows and old antique
furniture fills the room, shelves made of rosewood hold delicate and beautiful
clay teapots and porcelain cups. At the end of the room is a big mirror
that covers almost the entire wall and a book case that reaches all the
way to the ceiling and is stacked full of books
I park my bike
in its usual spot just in front, lock it and take my bag off
the rack and then walk up the steps peering into the familiar, gloomy
interior. I push open the awkwardly fitted door and enter, its
peaceful as I close it behind me.
I sit down at my favourite table on a big antique chaise long and order
a pot of white tea. Then I just sit back and relax. This is my sanctuary,
where I can get away from the world for a while.Like now, often Im
the only customer. Its the place which most resembles the romantic
ideal I had of China before I came. One of wise men with wispy beards
and heads full of ancient wisdom, of paintings with craggy cliffs and
My tea arrives and I chat to the Jennifer the waitress, a slightly bookish
girl who I sometimes give English lessons to and who sometimes treats
me to tea. We chat about nothing really, she asks how my teaching is going
and I ask her how busy the teahouse has been, she speaking in broken English,
me in broken Chinese. Inside I really just want her to leave so I can
She goes and I take out my books, the power of now, or Krishnamurti
or maybe something on Buddhism. Apart from the relaxing music the only
sound is the occasional giggles of the waitresses at the other end of
the room. Its peaceful and cool here in my sanctuary as I stare
out the window and observe life going past before taking a sip of tea.
I read The Power of Now, hoping that on the fifth reading I will suddenly
get it, though told by Tolle that my search for it
prevents me from finding it and is just another form of grasping,
intellectualizing something that cant be intellectualized and so
I am left feeling frustrated. I just watch myself and my futile attempt
to find peace, and so paradoxically find it. Then the cares of the world
take over again. This is what I do as I sit drinking tea.
A middle aged couple come in looking weary and tired, you can sense it
in their eyes, like rabbits caught in the headlights, they look slightly
dazed and confused, perhaps this wasnt quite how they imagined China
would be, perhaps like me, they hoped it would be more like this teahouse.
I look around me at the wooden screen in front of me, at the bright light
in the ceiling and the dark timber struts covering the white plaster,
the big mirror on the wall reflects the whole length of the tea house
and I try to empty my mind of all thoughts as I peer all the way along
to the group of red uniforms huddled together around the table giggling
and drinking tea. I try not to label or compare anything instead just
see. Everything feels alive and vibrant, sights and sounds are at greater
intensity than normal, but its hard to keep this level of attention
going it requires constant effort to prevent thoughts barging in.
A pair of Chinese men come in and sit in front of me, I can see them through
the screen but they cant see me. They look like businessmen here
to have a meeting. They take out a laptop and light cigarettes, preparing
to settle down for an hour or two.
Everything is still peaceful and quiet. I sit and read and think and drink
tea. Another day passes like this.
Haire July 2007
as a Model
Yesterday I had a very unusual experience, possibly the most unusual
experience Ive had in my life so far.
Paul Haire in Beijing
I watched the rugby on Saturday night this weekend, it was Scotland
versus Ireland and I drank too much as usual. I had to nip out of my 9
o'clock class the next day a few times to vomit in the bathroom.
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.