New Year in China ! Laxmi Pun

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Recently, we a group of 10 women journalists visited China. It was April 12, 2018 and we were all waiting for China Eastern Airlines, at the Tribhuwan International airport in Kathmandu. This was my third China visit. I was expecting a different kind of an experience this time as we were directly flying to Kunming-the capital of Yunnan province. In the earlier two visits we had a long stay in Beijing. Another special thing about this time’s visit was the season. Both my earlier visits were during the month of December, which were winters. We had to carry a lot of warm clothes to face the temperature dropping to minus four degree Celsius. But this time was a spring visit; so lesser luggage. Nepal-China Media Forum had given us the opportunity for the 8 days visit. The Chairman of the Nepal-China Media Forum and acting Chairman of Press Council Nepal Kishore Shrestha had taken much pain to make the visit a success. And we were very much excited about the visit because it was the first of its kind. It was the first China visit of a team comprising fully of Nepalese women journalists. There have been several visits of mix nature, as both the male and female were included. But this one comprised entirely of women journalists.

Board member of Press Council Nepal Subhechha Bindu Tuladhar was our team leader. Other nine women journalists included; Sangita Khadka-another board member of Press Council Nepal, Ganga Poudel-the editor of Bijaypur weekly, Tika Bista-the Vice-president of Press Chautari Nepal, Durga Adhikari-the General Secretary of Broadcasting Association of Nepal, Lila Shah-the owner and news chief of Radio Highway, Logshari Kunwar-the editor of Mahilakhabar.com, Barsha Shah-the photo journalist at Deshsanchar.com and Laxmi Paudel-the reporter at Janata Television were the celebrities of the proud team.

 

The first day of April 12 was a travelling day and we reached Kunming city at midnight. It took around one hour to reach the hotel from the airport. Our hotel the Maple Palace hotel was located in Chenggong district of Kunming city. So that night we went to sleep in the hotel room soon after reaching there. Two of us were given a room stay throughout the stay. My partner was journalist Ganga Paudel from Dharan. Next day we a welcome session in the premises of Yunnan university. Many students from different faculties of the universities were waiting for us in the grand hall.

There had been a beautiful lady making her presence right from the moment we reached the hotel at night. She even came to receive us at the hotel and was in the hall with a smiling face. She had an air of intelligence and nobleness around her face. She wore a qipau, the traditional Chinese dress; which was below her knee length. She looked quite comfortable in it. And she wore the qipau of different colors throughout our stay. She had a short pony tied behind and a little fringes of hair falling on her forehead. On day day we learnt that she was Ms Wu qi-the party secretary at the Yunnan University Press. The lady welcomed us and spoke in Chinese. The team had another important member, Rajan Maharjan who helped us in the translation part. Maharjan is a graduate from China Textile University and speaks Chinese fluently. Despite his busy schedule in his business, he agreed to join us. The CEO of Kathmandu University Prof Mukunda Aacharya was also present on the occasion. Acharya delivered a speech, which was informative as a lecture. The Chairman of Nepal-China Media Forum and Acting Chairman of Press Council Nepal Kishore Shrestha also addressed the inaugural function. Shrestha mostly focused on the mutual co-operation and understanding between the two countries since ancient period. The Chinese students were thrilled with his informative speech, which included the strong ties since princess Bhrikuti was married to the Tibetan Prince and the life of Araniko the great Nepalese architect who lived in Beijing. In between the session Ms Wu qi informed the students about the Nepalese New Year and she said ‘Naya Barshako Subhakana’. We all applauded and the mass from behind also shouted the new year greeting in Nepalese. We were very much glad to hear them greet us in Nepalese. Truly Nationalism springs more in foreign land ! Chinese new year had also just begun and they were back with fresh mood and enthusiasm.

The next day April 14 was our new year i.e Baiskh first 2075 BS. Kishore dai left for some meeting that morning instructing us to be good during our stay. We had the morning  session classes and were relieved for the half session after lunch in the university cafeteria. We were usually taken to the same cafeteria which was close to the hall. It was in the third floor. The second floor had an cafeteria for the students from Muslim community. After lunch we came back to hotel. Most of us preferred staying at the lobby near the reception in the ground floor, instead of staying the room above. The front lobby had two beautiful peacocks kept on the large cutting of a dry tree with no leaves. One of the peacock was the colorful one like that of the Indian peacocks found in Rajasthan. And another was a snow white peacock, totally white. Some days back my daughter had shown me such white peacock from google search. It was a wonderful co-incidence. Perhaps some preservative technique was used to give the birds a live form. Many of our friends posed with the peacocks in the background for pictures. So the very sight of peacock made me think that Kunming is a warmer place compare to Beijing.

This is because peacocks are mostly found in South-east Asia.We checked the average temperature of Kunming, it was 15 degree Celsius.We were later informed that Kunming also has its title as the ‘Spring city’. Therefore it attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year. Camellia is the city flower of Kunming. Camellia is known as Chinese rose in Nepal and is found in most of the houses in Kathmandu. Around our hotel area we could see the red clay. That was the reason we could see a lot of carrot, watermelon, potato, sweet potato, ground nuts, dragon fruit along others at our dining table. They were all the local production. It was 5:30 pm and we were suppose to go for dinner. The dining hall was just behind the reception area in the ground floor. In China people generally have their dinner at 6 pm. We were all sitting around the dinning table. The food served that day was more special with the combination of sea food as well. The ice decoration on a tray with fresh flowers was the centre of attraction. After all it was our new year. That night we didn’t have a Chinese friend at the table. The organizers wanted us to be all by ourselves. So as the eating began, a kind of a romantic environment was created. Logshari Kunwar took the initiation with her poetry. She was joined by Tika Bista. Laxmi Paudel’s recitation went for a long period; as she opened her literary page of the facebook, in her mobile. There was laughter and joy with the celebration of new year. So there was cheering and toasting of wine and juice glasses. Subhechha Bindu also recited some of her haiku. In the meanwhile, Rajan Maharjan got a voice message from Kishore sir which had a song. He is a good singer, we never knew. Some of our friends had been using facebook. They showed us pictures as how our friends in Nepal were enjoying the new year. At around 7 pm we left the table. Some of us went for night shopping around the hotel premises. There were some shops across the road along the restaurant line. So that was our new year 2075 BS in China’s Kunming city !