Monday, August 28, 2006

Israel - China love epic

M, as promised...

Me, I'm a big fan of Asian women. Mrs. anglosaxy is well aware, so don't get mad at me. I have a feeling it has something to do with my early days, being born in Hong Kong and being looked after by a Chinese nanny. Freud would probably concur. But this story isn't about me...this story is a love story of sorts, a tale of cultures clashing in the middle of little ol' China...

M spent some time in China a couple of years before we made our little journey. All on his tod. Brave little buggar, because China is a very difficult country to navigate on your own. But perhaps less difficult when you befriend L the local tour guide, as M did. Brave little buggar.

A connection was made, not so easy, what with the limited communication in English, the limited time together. Let's call it a "holiday romance" even, a brief but sweet relationship. Which carried on over the next couple of years amid a steady flow of emails and phone calls. Not exactly a long-distance relationship, it was a "connection" of sorts, something tugging at both their hearts to keep them in touch. Or so it seemed.

Then M and moi jumped over for a visit, back in October 2004. His Chinese connection had been warmed up in the microwave via a flurry of emails and calls. M was a happy man. After 2 years or so, he would get to see L, who seemed likewise smitten and ready to fall back into his arms again. Forbidden Fruit was coming back to town.

After a few days in China, we made it to Chengdu, L's home town. It was also M's birthday, so it was looking like M might just get his cake and eat it. Repeated calls to L confirmed that the perfect night was on the cards. And that's when it all went wrong...

I remember having a quick shower, a quick change of clothes and a quick flirt with the gorgeous Chinese hostel receptionist, before going back to our room to check on M. I'd also been looking forward to his birthday night because we were going to try some real Chinese cuisine accompanied by a few of those HUGE Chinese beers...but I wasn't planning on being a "spare wheel", I had my exit route planned. Which is for my ears only. Anyway, M had sat on his bed, looking a bit puzzled. L wasn't answering her phone.

Again and again he tried. And as each call went unanswered, his puzzled expression grew. In the end he gave up, we went out, had a great meal and a few beers and a laugh, but I'm sure M was hurting inside, just a wee bit. It was also pretty much the end of our trip together because I was on my way to Shanghai, he was headed further up north. So the next morning, I flew off, he stayed. We were fucking hard so no tears were shed. We also had a few choice words for L, I'm sure you can imagine...

Anyway, I made it to Shanghai, M stayed in Chengdu for another day or two. And started to use his wits.

He got a Chinese friend to call from her mobile, and, what do you know, L answered! It seems she had been screening calls, the little minx. After confirming her identity she was informed that "a friend" wanted to speak to her - and she promptly hung up *. M by this time was totally perplexed but resigned to the fact that she didn't want to see him. All had been fine and dandy, really fine and dandy, just a couple of days or so earlier. What the hell had happened?

M went back to his room, and though not a religious guy, actually had words with the bearded one in the sky. He realised that she didn't want to see him, but he begged the big fella for one last chance to see her, to close the circle if you like. He also decided to take a trip up to beautiful Jiuzhaigou, where he and L had talked about spending some time together, before flying to Hong Kong where we were scheduled to meet up again before flying back to Israel.

A little despondent, a little bemused, M set off on the arduous 12 hour trip. Not an easy one, especially when you're hurting. Not easy when the trip you scheduled for 2 becomes a solo flight. Even the amazing natural beauty of the Jiuzhaigou lakes and waterfalls didn't help, especially when overrun by hordes of Chinese tourists, all yakking and trundling along behind their tour guides.

But hey, who the hell is that over there? NO WAY!! Wait, it CAN'T BE...IT IS!!! L, in all her tour guide glory!

Yep, M got his last chance meeting with L. I'm not sure it's something she really expected, but M was a happy camper. Quite what the odds stacked against this chance encounter were is anyone's guess. OK, they talked, but there was never the same intensity that had previously been boiling away. And M didn't get to ask her just what the fuck she'd been playing at...but the big fella upstairs had been listening, the circle was now closed.

There's no moral to this story, apart from perhaps that things never seem the way they are when in a foreign land. Me and M have gone over the possibilities a few times, and it looks one of these takes the money:

  • She had a boyfriend/husband and had no idea how to shake a persistent foreign devil off.
  • She didn't want to get seriously involved with a foreigner. It was OK to chat on the phone and share a few innocent emails, but when the foreign devil turns up in your home town, slam the door shut.
  • She was a lesbian commie bitch. This usually wins after a few beers.
Though of course, we'll probably never really know just what went on in that pretty little Chinese head...

* I later heard about this via email - on reading this in a Shanghai Internet cafe, I actually shouted "Bitch!!" at the screen...