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Posts Tagged ‘Evening Post of Changchun’

Notes from China (3)

Friday, May 8th, 2009
Location of Changchun Prefecture within Jilin
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The time to return to Chicago has come and I’m reluctant to leave. I have established a routine of writing, jogging, taking a walk with my mother and a swim with my sister and brother-in-law when they return from work, plus the indulgence of a daily massage. Between family gatherings and delicious meals prepared by my sister Yan, I also squeeze in some time to meet with a couple of old friends. Mother starts calling me a “buzzing bee.” “Don’t you feel tired?” she asks, laughing.


On the contrary, I’m full of energy. I don’t get enough sleep because of my jetlag, but the daily massage rejuvenates me. A neighborhood massage parlor becomes my favorite place. For 320 RMB, about US$50, one can get a pass for 10 sessions of 80-minute full body massage or 20 times of 40-minute partial massage, with focus on shoulders, back or feet. Three blind men work at the parlor as masseurs. Every time I visit Changchun, I’d get one or two passes and invite my sisters to join mer. The masseurs were trained at different schools for the disabled and had been doing massages for more than ten years. They live at the parlor: sleep on the massage tables at night and have meals cooked and served to them at the parlor. They have come from different smaller towns in the province and only visit their homes several times a year.


My sister Wen and I were there last September and both of us are amazed that one of the masseurs calls my sister by name on our first return visit. The condition at the parlor is quite primitive: three narrow massage tables jammed in one room, and the edges of the table worn, and the windows are coated with so much dirt and dust that there is no need for a curtain. The masseurs work on their fully clothed clients over a layer sheet. But the bedding is clean and a freshly washed sheet is placed for each client, and more importantly, the deep tissue massage is first rate.


Through the introduction of a friend, I also meet with Mr. Zhao, the editor-in-chief of the City Evening Post, one of the four similar newspapers in the city. I’m told the newspaper has a circulation of more than 300,000 and is circulated throughout the province. “Only 80 people out of a thousand read newspapers,” Mr. Zhao tells me. “We still have plenty of room for further development.”    


We discusses about my contributing to the “Supplement Section” of the paper on a regular basis. “You are free to write on anything of your interest,” Mr. Zhao says. “The only limitation is the length of each article.”  


Mr. Zhao looks very young for his position. The newspaper is changing to a new layout the day we meet and our conversation is interrupted several times by incoming phone calls or knockings on his door, all sounding urgent to my ears. But Mr. Zhao resumes our talk in the same calm and friendly manner. I like him right away. I am looking forward to our cooperation. 


Mother’s eyes are filled with tears as I bid her goodbye. “Don’t be sad, Mother,” I murmur into her ear as I give her a farewell hug. “I’ll be back again in October.” My voice is as cheerful as it could be. Mother nods. She tries to smile without success. In the end, she raises one arm and waves for me to leave.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China.

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