Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fund raising

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
- Matthew 6:1-4

When the fund raising for the earthquake was going on in our University, there were boards all over the place giving us details on how much each class, group, department and college had managed to raise. Obviously when there is a fund-raiser going on, such information helps raise more.
Unfortunately this has some side-effects. The saying "from each according to his ability" is taken a step further in China. And since everyone knows how much everyone else is putting in, this means that you cannot donate more than your senior officer/co-worker does.

When we printed the banner "People of Wenchaun, we are with you", the printers didn't charge us for it. They said that just our willingness to do this was payment enough. The same happened when we had to scan a copy of the receipt of the Red Cross payment. When we were looking around for a good channel to put the money through, everyone we talked to were surprised and expressed thanks for our thoughtfulness.

We also wanted to do a print-out of the Indians donating the money for the earthquake relief fund. Just to let people know that we do care and that there is no need to be surprised. Especially now that not many people in the university hold a high opinion of the foreign students here.

What about Matthew 6:3 then?
No, we didn't start it all with thoughts of any rewards coming our way from any of the people around us.
But can we just opt for the reward from the people instead of the reward promised when a deed is done in secret? A reward of recognition and respect. Yes, a conscious option for a lesser reward. But we can, can't we?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Earthquake Fund

Immediately after the earthquake, a lot of fund raising was done in the University. Red boxes were placed in many places around the University, including all the student dormitory areas.
There was a fund-raiser in Qin yuan [a dorm area] which I attended with some friends and towards the end of the programme, representatives from all the colleges came on stage with plaques displaying the amount of money each had managed to raise. The medical college too had it's donations displayed and we felt that we could have contributed to it... if we had known. As usual, we were the last ones to know about anything happening in the university unless of course we are the ones doing it ;)
I had thought of course that given the nature of the tragedy, the medical college officials didn't want to sound as if they were asking for 'outside' help if they had asked us to donate, and so I was surprised that there was an open letter by the Xin yuan gate [our dorm area] calling for donations from foreign students.
We had already been discussing about this and so we didn't lose any time putting our plans into motion. First we printed out a banner to show our support to the earthquake victims, but by the time we had collected enough money, all the donation boxes in the University were gone. So we dropped off the money at the Red Cross branch in Yichang and we hope it will make a slight difference to the plight of the people in the quake hit areas.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Song A Week VII

Nothing Else Matters - Metallica

There are quite a few Metallica songs I like like King Nothing, Fade to Black, Unforgiven... and of course this one.

" I seek and I find in you..."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Trofeo de Troyanos

Whatever the reason behind a Spanish name, this was what the recently concluded cricket tournament was called.
The Trojans, after their last triumph at the final Champions Trophy [a legacy of our Senior batch], were upbeat about conducting this tournament. Quite a lot of us felt this was a bit too upbeat [especially after their rather overzealous putting down of our 'Super 7's Trophy' with a "football? who cares" tone] but they were determined to present the best tournament ever.
But of course as part of team Avengers, I was looking forward to a good tournament. As it has been the rhetoric for the past year or two, this time too we said - whether we win or lose, this will be the last tournament for team Avengers. But of course no one likes to lose and we got through the group stages for a semi-final clash with team "Malabar". Luck was against us as the first match was rained off when we were in a commanding position of 134/1 in 12 overs in the 20-20 match. The rematch [three weeks later!] came down to the last ball in which we needed 4 runs to win.... but we didn't. So we lost out on another final berth. Phoenix XI won the Trophy after a long wait but they had played really well and were the best team in the tournament, so they deserved it.
This tournament saw a couple of new teams trying their luck and they were just white-washed in every match. Two matches saw scores in excess of 300... in 20 overs! We also had a match with one of those teams but unfortunately didn't win the toss and so had to bowl first. We bowled them out in 12 overs and then won in 3.
But this was definitely the most drawn out tournament and in the later stages the organisers just fell apart. I doubt we'll ever see a second edition of this trofeo...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fortune told?

My "Today's Fortune" on Orkut says:
"You will pass a difficult test that will make you happier"

Does this refer to the HSK [Chinese proficiency test] next Sunday? There is an old saying in Malayalam "Aana koduthalum aasha kodukkaruthu"... don't give false hope...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

T-shirts in English

A lot has been said about the 'English' on Chinese T-shirts which usually display anything from a random set of alphabets to strange word combination to snippets of offensive newspaper articles and novellas. And so it has been good to notice some decent T-shirts the past few days which actually have something to say...
"Is your cup half emtpy or half full"
"Tibet, Taiwan and Diaoyu Islands were, are and will always be part of China"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic torch came to Yichang on 1st June. The relay was scheduled to start at 8 am from the 'Peace Park' by the Yangtze River.

Some friends and I got up at 4 am that Sunday to go and see the torch. We had been told that the roads would be blocked by 6:45 and so we wanted to make sure that we could get a good spot to watch the relay from, as early as possible. Many Chinese students from the University spent the previous night in the downtown area so they could book their spots. Fortunately, we got a taxi and so we didn't have to walk the whole distance as planned.

When we got there, we jumped right into the festive mood and bought some Olympic T-shirts, head bands and flags. We found a good place which was right across the Peace park and began our wait... and that's when the pushing started.
Already there was a sizeable crowd when we got there some time past 5... but the people just came piling on and on. Soon there was pushing, shoving and cursing among all the chanting and flag waving that was going on. As foreigners of course, we had special consideration - "These foreigners have come to see the torch in China, they should not be disturbed!"; "This is the place for the Chinese not foreigners!" Yes, special consideration from both sides.
We also got interviewed by two TV crews and many members of the press were snappy happy with their cameras. May I add that we played the celebrity part well :) In fact, a couple of days later, our faces turned up in one of the local papers.

The torch itself was just a passing moment. We saw someone [a Chinese tennis star possibly] run a bit and then hand over the flame to another guy... and the crowd around started moving in all directions.

As soon as the torch had passed we marched on to the stage where the relay had started to take pictures. It was really funny because each time we posed for pictures, lots of Chinese people wanted to take their pictures with us. It was fun and crazy and our cheeks started hurting because of all the smiling we had to do for the cameras.
Once we were done with being celebrities, we trekked back, across the Central Hospital and took the No.17 to the University.

It really was a good day and I'm keen to go see another torch relay!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Central Hospital Cutural Fest

The "First International Cultural Fest" was organised last week in the Central Hospital, Yichang. The Chinese title was a more accurate "First Get-together of Teachers and International Students of the Central Hospital", plus it also had the 'welcome Olympics' somewhere in there.
This was actually the brain-child of our Dr.Fang Qing, the Head of the Teaching department in the Hospital. He wanted a combination of the cultural programmes we have in the University, our organisational skills displayed in the Super 7's Trophy and the involvement of teachers and students as in the farewell party organised by our Seniors for the doctors. And of course, we had to do all of this by ourselves. Though the constant butting-in of scores of leaders who had their own ideas on how to do things didn't help very much, all the Chinese people on our side [i.e. the non-leaders] worked with us and got things running smoothly.
I was part of the compairing team along with other Indian, Chinese and Nepali students. Having written the English introduction for the programme, my only regret was that I could not elaborate on the 'One World One Dream' slogan of the Olmpics that - "we all share One Dream; a dream of individual freedom and international brotherhood" because my Chinese co-announcer jumped the gun and I was left stranded just as I was opening my mouth to speak.
After two whole days of trying to figure out things do say, rehearsals, stopping the 'leaders' from cancelling too many items and trying to make sense of all the directions, we finally managed to stage a wonderful programme. There were a few songs, dances and a drama and the last song was a group performance by all the teaching doctors who had attended the programme.
The main idea of the evening was to increase the student-teacher interaction in the hospital and I really hope it works out that way.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Song A Week VI

Chinna Chinna Asai - 'Roja', A R Rahman

AR Rahman is arguably the best Indian music director today. This is the first song of his first film 'Roja', which catapulted him to a National celebrity status.
For those who like references, 'Roja' was listed in the "Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of all Time" released by the Time magazine in 2007.