Many of my posts celebrate the differences between cultures as I travel the globe, and that’s intentional. I find the quirks and disparities engrossing and believe they should be celebrated. One thing that resonates for me however is how similar people the world over are. Despite different languages, cultures, histories and experiences, people are basically the same.
Nothing hammers that home quite as effectively as visiting a park on Sunday. When I last stumbled across this park a travelling amusement park dominated the greenspace. Some of those rides remain in place, a roller rink doesn’t uproot easily. This blustery Sunday kites dominated the grounds, and parents and children took great joy trying to catch a breeze to watch their kites flutter in the wind.
They succeeded and failed in various stages but that’s not the point. The point is, on this bright Sunday, families were out spending time together, some trying to fly kites now that it is warm enough to venture out while still bundled up. Around the park people found their spots, a group of older gentleman played with oversized tops. Making them whirl and buzz as they nimble spun the plastic contraptions along string, quick enough to cause them to emit noise. They staked out their patch of grass, the kite flyers granted them their space, both happily sharing the park.
After a while of watching the old men making their tops sing, and young kids causing their kites to crash I moseyed off down to the artificial lake. There, like the man-made lake across from my complex, a couple of men wielded fishing poles in the hopes of catching something. I can only speculate that the city stocks these lakes with some sort of local piscine for the anglers to dangle their bait.
The real purpose is not to catch fish though, but to spend some time outdoors with a like-minded friend. A couple of chums using the excuse of fishing to chat and enjoy the crisp, fresh sunny Sunday afternoon.
I dislike backtracking, it is the sensible route but searching out a new path appeals to me. It always has. This time my reward happened to be an erratic, eclectic, utterly superfluous causeway across the other half of the man-made lake.
Whomever decided to install this crooked course, I applaud you, adding a bridge and then a pagoda only added to the rustic charm.
Back in the park and nothing much changed. Kids and parents continued to battle with kites, wind and trees. (Somewhere Charlie Brown sympathizes). The old men continued to set their tops in rotation. The hawkers sold their snacks and the midway games of chance and skill attempted to separate Yuan from parents’ pockets.
Being the only waego in Binhai, the rest of the crowd at the park were Chinese, but that didn’t matter. What mattered, to me, were the parents and children, old men and toddlers, teenaged boys and girls… all doing that age old dance. Meeting, greeting, chatting in a communal setting. Luxuriating in a Spring day and strengthening the bonds of their community.
As different as the culture or scenery or language might be, some things are universal.
These too should be celebrated.
Some days with kites and a strong breeze.