On the road

Small roads in China are always interesting. In Guangzhou we walked down Qingping Road looking at all the interesting things which go on. I was really excited by this simple modification to a bicycle which made it useful for deliveries. In the grainy black and white photos that came out of China during the cultural revolution, everyone seemed to ride bicycles. They are not so common on the road any longer in Beijing and Shanghai, but in Guangzhou they were still in use.

Typically, improvised goods carriers in India tend to fill up narrow roads, so I was quite impressed by the very delicately judged width of the platform. It was just a little wider than the person riding the bike would be. It would allow a lot of stuff to be carried without inconveniencing others. I think the constant policing of streets does produce an exo-conscience in the Chinese. When I saw the crowd behind the bike in the photo you see above, I had to join them.

A very animated game was in progress. There was a lot of discussion between players and kibitzers. There was a while, when I was a student, when I tried out board games from across the world. This board looked like Xiangqi, but the pieces did not match the vague memory I had of them. Perhaps I’d seen some pieces with traditional Chinese characters, or perhaps the characters are different in Guangdong province, or, and this was very likely, I’d forgotten the characters altogether.

I walked on feeling happy. I like these impromptu gatherings on the street. They go very well with my notion of a holiday without hard plans.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


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