Diwali by the Pearl River

It was Diwali night, and cities in China were all going to be lit up in celebration. Of course, they are lit up on all nights, but that is a minor incidental detail.

We sat down in a relaxed restaurant on a promenade next to the Zhujiang river. Lanterns hung from trees, and dim LED lamps on the tables cycled through the spectrum. I thought it looked enchanting, and The Family agreed that this was a nice place to enjoy a Diwali sundowner. We sat down for a Tsingtao. The Family asked “Is it only in India that you get some nibbles when you order drinks?” Spain was another place that came to mind. It is not the custom in Guangzhou. We ordered a basket of squid to go with the beer. It took a while to come, so we ordered a beer to go with the squid. Diwali is a time to be happy, to let go of little concerns.

As it got darker, the number of cruise boats on the river increased. This made the place look even more enchanting. Lights came on simultaneously in the buildings across the river. The high-rises seemed to be mainly dark, except for the bright synchronized LEDs playing through the exterior. I don’t know whether the video that you see above gives you the sense of calm and unhurried charm that enveloped us. There were no firecrackers, and we were far away from friends and family, but it was an enchanting evening. The mellow winter of Guangzhou suited us to a tee (now I know what that means!). We walked back content with our first day in Guangzhou.

Fishing in the Pearl river

Old stories of China talk of the relaxed charm of Canton and the slow-flowing Pearl river. The horrors of the 20th century CE have now passed, and what used to be mud flats three centuries ago remains one of the major trading centers of the world. The river delta is now one of the major manufacturing hubs of the world. The sun was setting when we finished our stroll through Shamian island and ended up on its southern bank. Now, in the 21st century, Guangzhou and the slow-flowing Zhujiang river retain all the relaxed charm that it was famous for.

In the mellow light of the setting sun we spotted a man fishing in the Zhujiang. Fishing is very popular in this part of China, and a crowd gathered soon to watch this lone warrior. He exchanged a few words with hangers on, but was pretty intent on his work. For a few months a year, starting from about February, fishing is banned in the river, to allow stock to replenish itself. As the light faded from the sky, this man landed two large fish. The ban is successful, then. On the walkway, next to the parapet you see in these photos, tables were being laid out. We sat down for a sundowner- Tsingtao with squid.