Knee How in Beijing. .

Day one:
On my second day at Beijing our Chinese friend Charlie was there at Mala & Bharat's place at 9.30 a.m. sharp as promised! He was his usual cheerful self and said 'Knee How?'. I said 'Fine'. I thought he was asking me about the condition of my knee after the previous days climb at the Great wall. It is actually a greeting in Chinese. Anyway it was very apt as my knees were really tested the day before at the Great wall!

Charlie is one of the friendliest persons I have met. He was there to receive us early in the morning at the arrival area looking absolutely smart in a suit and a natty tie. As we reached our friends Bharat and Mala's home, it was nice to see Bharat who was waiting for us to just say hello! He was on his way to Shanghai for a tennis tournament with the school kids. They teach at the ISB in Beijing and were colleagues of Tara at NIST in Bangkok.

Mala had planned that Charlie would take us to the Mutianyu sector of 'The Great Wall' on the first day. As I was getting ready, Tara had a chat with him and asked him whether we could do one more 'sight' in addition. He responded positively and it was agreed that we do half a day trip at the wall and see 'Summer Palace' next. He said he would take us to the 'Badaling' sector of the wall as it was closer to Summer Palace. We thought it should be fine!

As we drove I saw that the ring roads were super and we were making good progress, none of the traffic congestion we have been reading about. Along the way, Charlie opened up and said he could sing Chinese opera. We requested him to sing and he did sing very well. He then sang pieces from the movies. Tara said she could also sing and we had a music session as we drove. Charlie had heard a few Hindi songs and wanted to hear Tara sing them, but she did not know the songs he liked to hear.

I noticed from the signs on the ring road that we were on our way to Badaling and when it was around 21 kms away Charlie exited the ring road and soon we saw the 'great wall' as we swung in to a parking place. But, it was not Badaling but the Juyongguan sector. It was quite an impressive sight and the wall spanned both sides of the ticketing booth and was quite impressive and extensive.

Tara realised that it was not the same she had been to 7 years ago with her mother. The difference was that the other had a ski lift to the top and you could also slide down the Toboggan to return. She tried to explain this to Charlie but no luck. So we gave up and decided to go up step by step! The climb on the right was long though not that steep as in the left and Charlie convinced us that it was better do the steeper one as it could be done faster in time for our visit to the summer palace.

The steeper climb! The proof, if needed, is no one is seen attempting this! We decided after the first tower that it was not for us and came down. You can also see the variable steps from 3" to 30". The climbdown was tougher.

The so -called not so steep climb! It surely was much longer.

Then after some discussion and persuasion we went driving towards the 'Badaling' section. We could not reach Mala all this while and finally made contact. She was firm and persuasive that Charlie should take us to Mutianyu as planned earlier and I would do summer palace the next day. Hence we turned back and drove a long way to reach Mutianyu. Yes it was the place Tara and Amma had seen earlier.

It was fun going up the ski lift and walking on the level portion of the wall. We took some pictures and spent a while admiring the view. It was nice to see many slide down the hill on the toboggan. Anyway we decided not to.

We also understood why Charlie was not so keen to take us to this place. He did not know the way and was ashamed to admit it. (Very typical!) Finally, he had to stop and ask for help as we were totally lost and were moving away from the sector. Finally, he persuaded a person on a motor bike to guide us to Mutianyu!

The people who gave (Wrong!) directions to Charlie before he got lost!


Aditi said…
Sounds so fun! Looking forward to more pictures!
Ram Prasad said…
WOW!! That must have been quite an experience.
My question: "How Knee Now???" that you are back from climbing the great wall.
We need more pictures. That was very minimal....send more

(That is a nice turn of phrase Ram, could it mean something in Chinese? Probably Ramadevi or Srikanth can tell!)
Arun Sethi said…
Dear Nidhi and Tara,

So wonderful to hear about your hearty enjoyment of China and Chinese!- and the pictures do make the words come alive in truly vibrant ways.
...and even as we try to reach out to the Conscience in our appreciation of the Gita, it is great to get to know more about the pleasures and joys of the Self!

Wishing you lots of Knee Hows with the Knee Good!
Arun and Geeta

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