You may have thought I would write about my father in this post, but I’m saving it for later.
When I was a little boy, I was given a globe as a gift. That was one of the few toys I had. I would study it for days, memorizing the names of different countries and where they were located. Later when I was in school, geography was my favorite course. I could tell the capital of Ethiopia was Addis Ababa. And I knew the Danube runs through the largest number of countries in the world (now it is the Nile, as there are more independent countries in that area than before). I was fascinated about the “Mediterranean Climate”, the Eskimos… And I dreamed of one day, I would be traveling around the world to see them.
I started learning English when I was in 7th grade (middle school). I was in a special weekend learning group organized by the Department of Education of Chaoyang District (part of Beijing city with double the size of Boston). We were the genius picked from thousands of kids. And because of my good language skills, my desire of seeing the world just continued to grow.
My school organized a speech contest. We had two sections in our school, junior high (6th to 8th grade) and a vocational school (9th and 10th grade). I was the only participant from the junior high section. The topic was “My ambition in life”. I was not quite prepared for the speech, but all the audiences wowed when I said loud “I want to and will be a diplomat, so I will be able to see the world!” One of the teachers who was the lead judge of the contest, started applauding. The others were looking at me, as if I were just bragging. They couldn’t believe any kids from our school would possibly become a diplomat… Well, now everybody knows I did not, and I’m thankful for it, because I could have been one of those who were kicked out of Houston several weeks ago… But anyway, I won the first prize of the contest, just because the lead judge’s approval of my ambition.
Well, time flies, and it came to 2005. One day, when I was working in “Motorola Tower” in the Central Business District of Beijing, I got a phone call from a collage classmate. He said Ericsson, the company he was working for, was hiring Software Engineers. I was satisfied with my job in Motorola and had been there only for a year, so I was just about to say no to my friend. But I changed my mind immediately when he told me all of the engineers would have a chance to be sent to either Sweden or USA for on the job training for months. My childhood dreams just came back to my mind, and I just couldn’t resist it. I was interviewed 3 times in one week and got the job. Another reason why I was so excited was that Ericsson’s office was surrounded by lots of embassies. Also my diplomat friend Laurent Beaulieu just lived nearby. See, I couldn’t be a diplomat, but I still had fantasies.
The first few months working at Ericsson was boring. In Motorola, I could finish thousands of lines of source code in C++ in a week. At Ericsson, the only task I was assigned was to read documents… It was because as soon as I was hired, the company decided to discontinue the development of the product my team was working on. So I had been reading documents for almost 6 months, until one day, 3 Swedish colleagues visited our office. I’m still friends with one of them (Hey, Peter, I’m talking about you if you have a chance to read it ^_^). My boss told me that our colleagues in Gothenburg Sweden were short of engineers, and they needed some help. I would be sent to Gothenburg to work with them. So my dream of seeing the world came true! The flight from Beijing to Copenhagen was my first long flight experience. It turned out later that I could never sleep on a plane. I had been staring the live flight map, wondering when it could pass the Ural Mountains, the border line between Asia and Europe… I tried to make conversations with the Caucasian guy who was sitting next to me, but had to stop as bad odor came out of his mouth…
But anyway, I arrived in Gothenburg on a cold winter night, with nobody but the taxi driver and myself on the street. I was still excited as that was the first time I was out of China. I will write a story about this trip later. But I stayed in Gothenburg for two months and have been traveling around a little bit. My dream of seeing the world finally came true.
Some of my friends probably knows, when I travel, I almost never take a photo of myself. I only get shots of the architectures and landscapes, and sometimes the local people. To be honest, I will not be regretted if I have been to Paris, but didn’t see the Eiffel Tower. Because many people have been there and you can find tons of pictures online. I’d rather go on a trip and meet the local people, learn the way of their lives and tradition, and make friends with them. I’d be happy to try all kinds of local food, not the internationalized versions, and I don’t care if I have to spend a lot of money on it. My best experience in Rome was that I had special Easter breakfast with my friend Laurent and Will, their friends Simonetta and her husband and Mr. Alberto Testa. And the best I loved about Paris was that I met my friend Peter Steadman and went to see the Pride Parade together. And my “best” memory of Hamburg Germany was that my friend Wolfgang took me to a gay video bar and said “Enjoy yourself! And see you later!” I can still laugh about it when I was in the gay bar Gretas in Gothenburg, somebody thought I looked like one of the characters in the Chinese movie “Hero”, and all the drunk Swedish guys waved at me and started screaming “Hero, hero…” And after I went to a night club with my friend Benny in Karlstad, a gorgeous looking but drunk Swedish guy asked me to tell him how to say “Fuck me please” in Chinese…
Well, I haven’t been traveling for a while since I started working on this business in Provincetown. But my journey won’t stop. I will travel to more places with my husband Greg, for my childhood dream, for meeting new people and friends, and for lots of new adventures…
You have such a good memory. I remember all these details because I live in Beijing then. I also remember you helping me with my computer because I could not understand how to do certain things. You would always say all this is simple just do this and that, And I thought it was Magic Valley did it.
Haha, you have good memories too 🙂
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I was looking at some pictures the other day and there was one of your and our beloved Professore (Alberto Testa) both dozing contentedly on the couch in Simonetta’s living room after Easter lunch. Well-fed and both content. The Professore died in October of last year he was 96. And going even further back you a picture of Laurent and Marie-Paul in a snow storm in Beijing back when Laurent lived there. Such wonderful memories.
Can you send a copy to me?
They were on an old drive but I’m sure I can find them again. What year was your trip to Rome?
I was there twice, and I believe that was the second time in 2009.
Right – for some reason I had a flash of you in the first apartment kitchen making dumplings and then in the den of the second apartment taking pictures of the Hounds from Hell. I figured it was a just an old man being confused but it was two separate trips.