A Thousand Hands Guanyin

Guizhou Maotai Distillery and Maca Maotai

On 28 July 2018 I was invited to give a congratulatory speech for the launch of Maotai Maca, assisting to the performance of A Thousand Hands Guanyin, among other performances.
Location: Vienna Hall, Garden Hotel, Haidian District, Beijing.
CCTV hosts were Shi Jun and Meng Siyu.

There was also a group of senior ladies, all so elegant. And also here I saw their rehearsal were they appeared without makeup or anything. And other dance groups and singers, see below some.
Yeah Gilbert was happy with all the ladies!

A Thousand Hands Guanyin

The Thousand Hand Bodhisattva dance, also called “A Thousand Hands Guanyin” is a beautifully synchronized flow of movement. The group of dancers who take on this incredible dance are all deaf or with a hearing impairment. The performers are supported by the trainer who uses sign language to help the dancers feel the rhythm and remain in perfect time.
This dance describes the legend that Bodhisattva Guan Yin has one thousand hands. Thousand Hand Guan Yin dance became one of the most popular Chinese dance in the world.
Guan Yin is the bodhisattva of compassion, revered by Buddhists as the Goddess of Mercy. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin which means “Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World”.

 

It was interesting to see all the dancers during their rehearsal with their trainer, in their simple clothes and no makeup. Then see the later on…
Really impressive to see it up close.

International Women’s Day in Beijing

Hosted in the Italian Cultural Institute

In order to mark the International Women’s Day in Beijing on March 8, the Embassy of Belgium, together with the Embassy of Italy, co-organized the projection of the documentary Addio Addio Amore, by Belgian Director Jean-Michel Dehon. Duration: 01:03:54.
The Ambassador of Italy H.E. Luca Ferrari and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium H.E. Jan Hoogmartens presided the screening.

A reception followed with Belgian beer, Belgian Beef Stew and fries by Renaat Morel and several Italian dishes.
Newsletter of the Belgian Embassy:
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/DdgQYiYbfysuvtfUhNDO6w

I found the documentary very interesting and very well done. It reminded me of my own “immigrant experience”, in Brazil and in China.

Addio Addio Amore

The documentary tells the story of courageous Italian women who migrated to Belgium after the Second World War.

These women were following their husbands who came to work in Belgian coal mines. Coal miners were working in very harsh conditions. Some lost their lives, notably on August 8th, 1956 during the biggest Belgian mining disaster at the “Bois du Casier” in the town of Marcinelle, where 262 men died, among which 136 Italians. The sacrifice of these men is still commemorated by Belgian and Italian authorities every year. The coal miners are remembered but the story of their wives and children is too little known, and too little told. This is precisely the aim of the movie Addio Addio Amore: to put some light on these women, who were also wives and mothers who played a central role, not only in their families but also on their own involvement in several industrial sectors in Belgium.

Today, more than 300,000 persons of Italian origin live in Belgium (for a population of 11 million inhabitants), creating countless ties and friendships. Belgium is grateful to these men and women from Italy who contributed so much to its development and society.
See the leaflet distributed in the room.

Synopsis of the movie

https://www.iotaproduction.be/en/film/addio-addio-amore/
75 years ago, Italy, then ruined by war, and Belgium signed an agreement to exchange labor for coal. Then began an unprecedented wave of immigration in Belgium in which women and girls played an essential role in the success of Italian integration. They tell us their story, the stories of women who one day came to join their husbands, without ever having denied their roots and their culture.

In French:
Great link with pictures: https://www.grignoux.be/fr/film/1284/addio-addio-amore
En prenant le parti de n’interroger que des femmes dans ce documentaire retraçant l’immigration italienne en Belgique, Jean-Michel Dehon rend hommage à ces héroïnes de l’ombre, rarement entendues, qui ont pourtant eu un rôle essentiel dans la réussite de l’intégration italienne.
Il y a 75 ans, l’Italie, alors ruinée par la guerre, et la Belgique signaient un accord d’échange de main d’œuvre contre du charbon. Commença alors chez nous une vague d’immigration sans précédent. Cette histoire a été maintes fois racontées dans de nombreux ouvrages, mais rarement du point de vue des femmes.
Dans ce documentaire, ce sont elles, les fiancées, les épouses, les mamans, les sœurs qui vont raconter cette immigration, leur immigration, l’aventure de leur mari mineur et de toute leur famille en Belgique. Alternant les images d’hier et d’aujourd’hui tournées dans la région des charbonnages en Belgique et en Italie, ce film donne la place à des témoignages émouvants qui résonnent particulièrement avec la réalité migratoire d’aujourd’hui

Also in French:
https://www.rtbf.be/tv/guide-tv/detail_addio-addio-amore?uid=2530008374668&idschedule=4dec5e57c9ce5cdb98be4570ec548c18

Le Petit Prince in Chinese

Revisiting Maxim’s

On 22 September 2021 we were invited to the official launch of Le Petit Prince in Chinese (“The Little Prince”), a new Chinese translation. I also had the chance to visit again Maxim’s de Paris. So many memories…

The Chinese book is beautifully done, the bag is also very cute.
See the original extract compared with the Chinese version (Chapter one).

I was asked to go on stage to tell my own story with the book. Indeed, I was something like 9 or 10 years, in a boarding school in Enghien (Collège Saint Augustin) where I took part in a performance based on the book. It was a shadow play. While I obviously lost the details (60 years ago!) the small theater performance always stayed in my mind.
We met old friends during the event and a new Russian contact who was connected to the stay of our aunt Sun Weishi in Moscow, with Chairman Mao. Small world!

Le Petit Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

See: https://bookmarks.reviews/a-childrens-fable-for-adultsantoine-de-saint-exuperys-the-little-prince/
A Children’s Fable for Adults: Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince
“All grown-ups were once children…but only few of them remember it”
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.The full French version can be downloaded here:
http://www.cmls.polytechnique.fr/perso/tringali/documents/st_exupery_le_petit_prince.pdf

The mystery of his plane crash

I now read the final story of what happened to the author. His plane had disappeared in 1944 and for decades nobody knew what happened. Read the story:
Plane Wreck Of the Author Of ‘Prince’ Is Discovered – By Agence France-Presse
7 April 2004
A French underwater salvage team has discovered the remains of the plane of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of ”The Little Prince,” six decades after his disappearance, government researchers said Wednesday.
The pieces of the Lockheed Lightning P38 aircraft, which vanished July 31, 1944 during a wartime reconnaissance mission, were found off the coast of the Mediterranean city of Marseille, the Culture Ministry’s Department of Subaquatic and Submarine Archaeological Research said.

The full story: https://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/07/world/plane-wreck-of-the-author-of-prince-is-discovered.html

Maxim’s de Paris

I enjoyed many evenings there since its opening in 1983. I also knew the Chinese lady who worked with Pierre Cardin, she sadly passed away years ago.
See a bit of the story here:
“Beijing Maxim’s: a miniature of China’s reform and opening-up. Restaurant evolving from a ‘crazy move’ into affordable dining.
Global Times Published: 28 October 2018/
See: https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1124799.shtml

The place is now less famous, I hadn’t been there for years. Happy to see they kept the interior in excellent condition. Opened in 1983 as a joint-venture between Cardin and Beijing’s restaurant administration, the dark wood flourishes and Tiffany-style stained glass windows have not changed in over 30 years; nor has the tiny stage set into the back wall.
No idea how the food is there now, the previous French chef left.

2021 Year of the Ox

Chinese zodiac

Learn here some details and background about 2021 Year of the Ox.
This overview is a compilation from multiple sources.
The name ‘Spring Festival’ (春节 Chūnjié)  is actually quite modern: it’s from 1912, when the Republic of China adopted the Gregorian calendar. The old name for the lunar new year (Yuan Dan 元旦 Yuándàn) was re-appropriated for January 1st and Sun Yatsen came up with the term Spring Festival for the Lunar New Year.

The 12-year Chinese zodiac determines which dates and years are auspicious or unlucky. Each lunar cycle has 60 years divided into 12 smaller cycles, each of which is represented by one of the following animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
The Year of Your Animal Sign Is Not Your Lucky Year.
See here my “wishes” for 2021:

2021

2021 is the Year of the Ox according to Chinese zodiac. This is a Year of Metal Ox, starting from Feb. 12, 2021 (Chinese New Year) and lasting to Jan. 31, 2022. Ox is the second in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac sign. Years of the Ox include 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033…

And Oxen are…

Oxen used to be capable farming tools in an agricultural society, which attach to the symbol of diligence, persistence, and honesty. In Chinese culture, Ox is a faithful friend that made great contributions to the development of the society. Like the ox, people born in the Year of the Ox are industrious, cautious, hold their faith firmly, and always glad to offer help.

It is said that Ox ranks the second among the Chinese zodiacs because it helped the Rat but was later tricked by it. The myth goes that the Jade Emperor declared the order of zodiac signs would be based on the arrival orders of 12 animals. Ox could have arrived the first but it kindly gave a ride to Rat. However, when arriving, Rat just jumped to the terminus ahead of Ox, and thus Ox lost the first place.

With the dwindling birth rate in China, the Year of the Ox could be worse… See below why!
The 2021 Ox is also associated with the Earthly Branch (地支 / dì zhī) Chǒu (丑). In the terms of yin and yang (阴阳 / yīn yáng), the Ox is Yang.

  • Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Chou
  • Wu Xing (The Five Elements): Tu (Earth)
  • Yin Yang: Yin

Is it ox, cow, bull, buffalo or…

Ox (牛  Niú)
The main difference between Bull and Ox is that the Bull is a male individual of cattle and Ox is a common bovine draft animal. A bull is a not castrated adult male. Oxen are commonly castrated adult male cattle; castration makes the animals easier to control. Bad for birth rate!!!
In Chinese the character for cow and ox are the same.

Water buffalo (水牛 Shuǐniú)
The buffalo is the second animal symbol in the 12-year cycle of the Vietnamese zodiac, taking the place of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac. Water buffalo are industrious and patient.
The water buffalo, also called domestic water buffalo or Asian water buffalo is a large bovid originating in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and China.
The domesticated water buffalo is the “living tractor of the East”. There are two types, river and swamp, each considered a subspecies. The breed was selected mainly for its milk, which contains 8 percent butterfat. Swamp buffalo more closely resemble wild water buffalo and are used as draft animals in rice paddies throughout Southeast Asia. Children ride them to their wallows after their labours and clean their faces and ears.

Spotlight on Mark Levine

Who is Mark Levine?

A spotlight on Mark Levine, whom I have known for years.
In his own words:
I am an American sociologist who has lived in China since 2005. Since arriving I have taught at a number of different universities but my main teaching job since 2007 has been at Minzu University of China in Beijing. I currently teach Public Speaking, American Culture and Oral English.
I am a guitarist/songwriter/singer. I have written more than 60 (English-language) songs about life in China and have performed the and many Chinese songs in 10 Chinese Provinces. I have performed before several audiences of more than 50,000 people, sung at The National Center for the Performing Arts and Beijing’s MasterCard Center as well as in bars, factories, fields and 20 Chinese weddings. My performances have been seen on more than a dozen different Chinese TV stations.
In Side Out is a musical duo that I have formed with Chinese folk musician Fu Han. Ms. Fu performs on her er-hu (a two-string, bowed Chinese instrument) and I play guitar. Singing both Chinese and English-language songs, we share the vocals.
My book, Stories from My Chinese Journey, was published in China by New World Press in April 2014.
See: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markhlevine/

Hilton Hotel with FCGroup

On 23 December 2014, one of the many events with a spotlight on Mark Levine. The FCGroup has been the leading networking event group in Beijing. That event was again in the Zeta Bar of the Hilton Hotel.

Beijing Foreign Studies University

On 22 April 2016, at BFS, the evening “East meets West” featured a program by Mark Levine and Fu Han, attended by some well-know Chinese and foreign guests.
Among the foreign guests several winners of the China Friendship award, and also the famous Isabel Crook, our CCTV host Edwin Maher, Michael Crook and many others. See also the picture with Ms. Huang Huanbi, the wife of late Israel Epstein.
Mark also presented his book “Stories from My Chinese Journey”.

Chongyang Festival

I have invited Mark afew times at the official Chongyang Festival celebration. I still hope I can have him at the next celebration so he can sing his Chongyangjie song.
See here the clip he made about the Festival:

See here one of the celebrations:

The 6th Chongyang Festival in Diaoyutai State Guesthouse