Thursday, September 11, 2014

To Shiv - Letter From Mommy 1

My dear Shiv,

Welcome to the world!

I know it's not your choice to be reborn again, but everything has a reason behind. I wish you find the meaning of being in this circle of life, wish you enjoy the views in the journey of living.

The world could appear complicated, but it's simple, life could be frustrating but surely full of love, hope and adventures. Always be positive, be strong, be passionate, be kind and be honest, dare to dream, dare to chase the dreams and should never ever give up!

Mama Papa are very lucky to have you as our first child!

Love
Mama

PS: Daddy said he needed to see you first, so to finish the "Letter From Daddy", because you were never in his belly :P


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hey Stranger

Where did you come from
Where are you going to?

Coming this pathway once again?
You know it's gods' plan of redemption
A punishment

Is it your own choice then?
My arms my breasts
My disposition my war in the mind
My bearing of the world, of life

Will you share it with me?
The lives you've lived
The adventures you've seen and walked

I can't wait to gaze into your eyes

Hey stranger My stranger
You are granting me a crown
Making me a queen

Maybe I've known you my whole life

-- For my soon-to-be-born Shiv

Monday, September 1, 2014

On Children by Gibran

On Children
     Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Some pregnancy updates

As weeks passing by, I found myself spending too much time indulging in the bloody Youtube videos of women giving birth, at home at hospital on the bed in the water, some even in the forest beside a stream... It's the fear which made me search such videos at the first place, but after watching, there is definitely more fear...

Right now it's the July 4th weekend, except the fireworks we saw in San Francisco through a thin layer of fog, I am experiencing fireworks the whole weekend, inside my tummy... This kid has to be a naughty one, full of energy, doesn't need too much sleep, always having high tempo and high spirit, well, just like his father. I found his sleep-active cycle extremely long, maybe up to 24 hours or so, sometimes he can spend whole day and whole night running, playing football, dancing, walking, stretching and hiccuping, at least flipping over every other minute, no sign of falling to deep sleep, and that makes me feel like having my own firecrackers bursting constantly inside my belly.

Doctor diagnosed me for Gestational Diabetes at the week of 26, fasting blood sugar level is 92, which is only slightly high, but one hour after glucose drink blood sugar level is 230, which is extremely high, although after two hours it falls back to normal. This indicates that my body doesn't have enough insulin required. Pregnant body needs 3 times the amount of insulin compare to normal body, also as placenta grows bigger, the release of some hormone blocks the release of insulin. That's why Gestational Diabetes is normal among pregnant women, however could have serious consequences, such as baby grows too big so that can't be delivered naturally, also bearing high risk of child obesity and teenage diabetes, mother too having high risk of developing into type 2 diabetes later on in her life.

No other way out, only to maintain a healthy and low sugar diet, not only during pregnancy, but for ever and ever and ever... I didn't know refined white rice and bread could turn into so much sugar, earlier when I was starving every other hours, I stuffed myself with bowls after bowls of rice, plates after plates of noodles, bags after bags of bread, and all kinds of other carbs. Bad, really bad...

Actually high blood sugar is a rather serious issue for pregnancy, so I would suggest all girls who plan to get pregnant to watch their blood sugar level before getting pregnant, because at the first trimester if your body is already high in sugar, baby could have high risk to certain type of birth defect. And why not start to have a controlled diet right after pregnancy, because yea, who knows when your placenta would suddenly grow too big and your insulin suddenly run short, the scheduled blood test is at week 26, I am right now constantly regretting for each every grain of jasmine rice that I have taken before week 26.

Even though I sense myself having heightened emotions because of the increased hormone, Raj repeatedly claims that I am way much calmer nowadays, "she is so much mellower", in his words. I don't any more easily get angry and start shouting, and much reduced frequency of using cursing words, only when it's really necessary. I think on my consciousness I understand that a good mother should be calm, tender and tolerant, so to make sure the kids' mental healthiness, I am unconsciously injecting myself with "calming hormones", maybe. Thanks to this firecracker kid inside my tummy.

What else? Yea, as exercising is not only the key to control blood sugar, also the key to have a natural birth and postpartum recovery, I am still exercising regularly, taking 1-2 hours walk with Raj whenever we are in the mood, rejoining the prenatal yoga class after almost 2 months' break, and most excitingly, I found a drop-in swimming pool within walking range to our apartment, so I should find myself in a lot of sunny afternoons relaxing in the water, free from the weight of the dragging belly and free from backaches.

There is indeed a lot of fear for the labor, but as the kid grows, I am feeling more of a unshy mama day by day, I can suddenly start a conversation in Chinese with my belly, loudly sing Chinese songs to my belly in front of friends, and speak up for uncivilized public behaviors so as they might harm my baby, such as breaking beer bottles on the rocks... I think I am much more eagerly also mentally prepared to meet this restless boy now.

That's it for today's update, wish me luck!! :) 

Friday, April 18, 2014

准妈妈的地狱与天堂-记录我怀孕的前四月

怀孕的消息给了我这个主意,我要给我的孩子写信,现在已经写到了第二封。这个特定的时间,特定的空间,还有我们特殊的身份和多彩的经历,记录下来等孩子长大后是他/她的一笔财富,记载着他/她的来历。想写怀孕时候的种种,想写Raj和我的故事、我们的婚礼,想写每次在印度游荡的感受,想写在印度和中国那些发生过的与正在发生的事情,想写用他们的心、手、泪和笑把“生活”二字雕琢出来的印度、中国家人的故事。想一封封写好后再装订成书,留给我的孩子。第二封信记录了自己经历早期孕症的过程,觉得可能会对一些姐妹有帮助,于是把这封信的上半部分发到博客上来。以后还有什么好玩的片段我也会选出来发布。 

——————

你好吗?这是妈妈给你写的第二封信,今天是2014年4月10日,星期四。到现在你已十六周大,和牛油果一样大小,在我的肚子里待了足足十四周,现在还感觉不到你的动静,也不知道你的性别。妈妈从怀孕以来重了快八斤,小肚子已略微突起,走起路来不自觉地因失去重心而有些蹒跚。

本来打算每个月给你写一封信的,第一封信完成后,过了整整快三个月,都没有提笔写第二封,因为妈妈经历了非常严重的早期孕症,终日头昏脑涨,神疲乏力,欲呕欲吐,食欲全消,大部分时间在床上躺着度过,无精力做任何事情。

大约从第六周,也就是一月底的时候开始,妈妈的身体出现了巨大变化,在开始大规模孕吐之前,妈妈发现自己的嗅觉变得异常敏感,老远就能闻到微弱的气味,而气味上的变化、重一点的味道就能让我反胃。每天最让我恐惧的事情之一是走出卧室,打开房门,通道里未散去的烹饪气味令人难以忍受。一般情况下我不轻易出卧室,如果非出不可,必须捂着鼻子一口气跑到客厅,并立马将头伸出客厅窗外,足足几分钟才能慢慢适应,大多情况下根本适应不了,只能重又跑回卧室,紧紧把门关上。头尾两个月的时间,妈妈都没法踏进厨房一步,炒菜的油烟,乘着食物的冰箱,水池里的脏碗筷,满溢的垃圾桶,甚至连打开的壁橱都成了嗅觉的敌人,令我大吐特吐。

连味道都闻不了,就更不想吃了,每天嘴里都像小时候发烧时一样,有一股苦涩的味道,让我失去胃口。甜的吃不了因为味道在嘴里发生了变化,一吃都是苦味,辛辣的吃不了因为接受不了过重的口味,唯一可以接受的是淡淡的酸味和苦味,比如酸醋和草药茶,酸完了苦完了会存留有一点点的甜,起码吃起来不会觉得变味变得太厉害。

幸好Raj爸爸正处于博士的最后一学期,五月份就要毕业了,头尾两个月他几乎天天留在家里,一边写论文一边照顾我,基本承担了所有家务,为我准备食物、洗碗做饭、端茶送水、清理呕吐物等等,每天都在折腾。他试着做饭给我吃,可我受不了印度菜香料的味道,不仅在他做饭的时候因气味重而不愿踏出卧室一步,花了大半天功夫做好的饭菜也吞不下几口。饭做好后,Raj爸爸通常要花上十几分钟甚至半个小时哄骗我出房间,妈妈则像小孩子一样赖在床上不肯起,哭着喊着“不想吃不爱吃,你做的菜不好吃!”Raj爸爸每次听到我说不喜欢吃他做的菜,就特别失望,甚至还会生气地离开房间,“那好吧,那你就饿着。”过了几分钟,他又悄悄回来了,端着杯水,重又以哄骗的语气说,“来,先喝点水,你不爱吃就不要吃太多,我们吃一点点,尝尝看,实在不喜欢我再去外面买你喜欢的东西吃。”

折腾了几次印度菜,Raj爸爸已经不敢用印式混合香料,甚至不敢给妈妈做饭了。其实Raj爸爸非常喜欢下厨房,周末的时候一般会心血来潮去网上找复杂的菜谱,花几个小时总能做出色香味俱全的佳肴盛宴,朋友到访也都是他的厨艺,我们的公寓因此在朋友间得称“中印大酒店”。而平日生活的饭菜是我做,妈妈对做饭没有特别的热情,极少主动找菜谱学习新花样,但做菜的时候却有耐心,各种感觉器官也灵敏,越是简单的家常菜越是做得上口,Raj爸爸尤其爱吃。听到妈妈喊着不爱吃他做的菜,Raj爸爸的美食热情的确受到了不小的打击。

孕妇的口味出现重大改变是十分常见的现象,妈妈和朋友们交流的时候发现好多本来爱吃辣的准妈妈在怀孕甚至哺乳阶段都无法再接受一点辣味,重的香料味更是连闻都闻不得。妈妈告诉Raj爸爸,不是因为Raj爸爸做的饭菜不好吃,而是因为我的口味变了,再也吃不下辣,不喜欢混合香料味,甚至连大蒜、洋葱和生姜的味道都受不了。Raj爸爸最终也表示完全理解,配合着和我一起吃只有咸味的小火炒青菜。

胃口已经不好,我们更担心的孕吐也接连着发生了。每个准妈妈的身体机能不一样,大约60-70%的孕妇会经历强烈的早期孕症,比如孕吐,有的孕妇三个月时间从早吐到晚,吃什么吐什么,就像在海上漂了三个月,有的孕妇甚至会从第一个月吐九个月到临产那天。妈妈认为自己的孕吐与胃里过量分泌的胃酸有关,因为在每次进食之后,胃里越发难受,可能是一些食物刺激了更多胃酸的分泌。所以我一般早上感觉最好,随着时间的推移,越到了下午和晚上,越是难受。妈妈掐指算了一下,每次孕吐Raj爸爸几乎都在身边,几个月下来,可能就只有几次妈妈是自己一个人,偶尔Raj爸爸不在的时候,吐完了打电话告诉他,他立马就从办公室飞奔了回来。吐的时候Raj爸爸从头至尾站在我身边,紧紧搂着我,等我吐了几个回合把胃里的食物底朝天全盘翻出后,他扶我回床上,喂一些水,安顿躺下后,再回到卫生间清理呕吐物,还要去准备一些新的食物给我喂上。

每次吐完妈妈心里都很难受,好不容易吃下的都浪费了,宝宝会不会被饿着?营养够吗?Raj爸爸咨询了医生,还上网查了不少资料,了解到前三个月准妈妈因严重孕症体重不增反减妨碍不大,能吃尽量吃,吃不下也没有关系,这个阶段的宝宝并不需要太多蛋白质,不像宝宝身体快速成长的第二、第三周期,每天需摄入70克蛋白质。而宝宝其实就像寄生虫一样,如果妈妈当日摄食的营养不足,宝宝会从妈妈身体里吸取成长所需的元素。这就是为什么越到怀孕后期,准妈妈越要保证足够的钙质摄取,因为宝宝后期发育需要大量的钙,如果不够,妈妈身体里为自己的牙齿和骨骼准备的钙质就会被宝宝抢走,妈妈会因缺钙导致牙齿松动、被龋蚀或骨质酥松。这也是为什么女孩子不管胖瘦,健康才是美,想要当妈妈的女孩尤其需要注意平日的营养均衡以及身体里的脂肪储量,过瘦过弱的体质,对妈妈和宝宝都不好。

在中国流传着怀孕“前三个月最重要”的说法,意思是前三个月要多吃营养,比如多吃鱼,孩子会更聪明。这个说法既对又不对,对在前三个月的确是由单细胞发育到完整人形的阶段,母体里任何营养元素的缺乏都有可能阻碍胚胎的正常发育与构建,这也是流产的主要原因之一。不对在孩子的智力水平、身体机能早在受孕的时候就写进了DNA,过低营养可能造成损害,但过量营养并不会增加智力值或身体机能。另外在孕前三个月补充叶酸(Folic Acid)能有效预防神经管缺陷,如果母体在受孕后几个星期内叶酸量不足,会影响到胎儿脑部及脊椎一带的组织发育,造成神经管缺陷。之所以在受孕前三个月就要补充是因为大多数准妈妈在前几个星期并不知道自己已怀孕,知道后再补就迟了。

这几个月Raj爸爸和我一共与不同的医生和护士见了四次面,看了三次B超,还做了一次基因学咨询。

第一次会诊是怀孕八周的时候,我们之前有幸预约到了在网上打分和评论皆好的妇产科医生M,预约好之后才得知伯克利的朋友大多在这家医院生的孩子,对医院里的医生都是满口称赞。在美国第一次会诊不会安排在八至九周之前,因为在那之前流产的可能性很高,见医生是浪费资源。于是在确定了怀孕后与第一次会诊之间,有大概一个月的时间妈妈和Raj爸爸成天处于兴奋与恐惧交织的状态,充满了未知感,当出现从未见过的身体反应时,即便非常轻微,因无医生咨询,上网查了资料后越想越怕,偶尔还陷入恐慌。

有一次周末妈妈觉得肚子微微发疼,之前就一直有,那天感觉特别严重,并伴随着头疼眼花与背部酸痛,Raj爸爸有点着急了,于是给我的家庭医生与妇产科医生两边都去了电话,因为是周末只有值班医生在,他们为我备了案并给了一些建议。没想到周一的时候两边的医生都回了电话给我,查看我的情况,妇产科医生M一次面都没有见过,她午饭时抽空打了电话过来,让我把病症重新描述了一遍,得出结论说,早期腹部微疼是正常的身体反应,因为子宫正在准备着成倍扩大,微疼来自于肌肉酸痛,而略微的头疼与背痛也属正常。如果是宫外孕等严重的病症,不是微疼,而是剧烈的疼痛,并且伴随有下身出血,到那时就要去看急症或者打911。如果还有其它的不适反应,可以随时打电话给她,或者通过医院专门开通的网络给她留言。听了她一番话,就像吃了定心丸,不再为身体里发生的任何新变化而感到恐惧。

第一次会诊的时候先和医生M聊了一些基本情况,比如九个月的见面流程,临产时的安排,以及身体的正常与异常反应,她说,“你们不要去看市面上卖的那些'怀孕手册'之类的书,很多不科学,容易误导,有什么问题你直接问我”。医生对我的营养情况一点都不担心,她认为在美国的妇女怀孕前后营养都够好,她用心提醒的是我每日的摄水量和运动量。孕妇每天必须摄入至少两升半液体,母体缺水会对宝宝造成极大的伤害,而运动也是必须,每天至少要出门走半小时的路,游泳和瑜珈也很适合,只有足够的运动准妈妈身体才够强壮,才有力量顺产,怀孕就像马拉松,坚持到最后不容易。在美国除非妈妈或宝宝有生命危险,医生不鼓励普通产妇实行剖腹产,据说到临产的时候都是慢慢等着宫口打开,一等等将近两天四十多小时的都很正常。而且美国有孩子的家庭一般不会只生一胎,想多生第一胎就一定要尽量顺产。

医生M和网上的照片没有太大区别,安静儒雅,说话声音轻而温柔,觉得有她做医生心里很有底。终于要做B超了,这是我们和宝宝你的第一次会面。在还没有认出你的样子之前,先听到了你强有力的心跳,砰砰砰,一分钟150多下,接着看到了那个跳动的小心脏,包裹着小心脏的,是个还没有长成人形的你,一动不动,和超市里卖的火鸡形状差不多。“很好,一切都非常好,看那有力的小心脏。根据测量数据,现在17毫米长,整整八周大小,和你们预测的时间差不多。”医生说。

从医院出来后Raj爸爸和我都没有说话,还沉浸在刚才的会面中。“哇,太神奇了,你怎么就真的怀孕了呢?我还感觉像做梦一样,印度婚礼和柬埔寨蜜月似乎就在昨天。”Raj爸爸终于发出了感叹。同样的感叹在接下来的几个月里,Raj爸爸每周至少发一次,直到现在还这样。他做着其它什么事情的时候,会突然跑过来到我身边,用力撮着双手,耸起肩膀,脸上挂着中了头奖一样的诡笑,俯下身对着我的腹部说印地语,“哦~嘞嘞嘞嘞,巴布茄那,妈咪怎么就怀孕了呢?嘻嘻,妈咪怀孕了!哦~嘞嘞嘞嘞。”巴布茄那是印地语心肝宝贝的意思,Raj爸爸平常也是这么称呼妈妈的。偶尔妈妈感觉肚子里有点动静,刺刺的,麻麻的,就抱着肚子“哎哟”一声,Raj爸爸神经一紧,也抱着他的钢锅肚“哎哟”一声,紧张地问我,“怎么了?”仿佛他的五个月大印度钢锅肚里也真有东西一样。

第二次B超在两周之后,与一位资深护士的会诊。会诊的目的在于讨论对宝宝进行绒毛取样术(Chorionic villus sampling)或羊膜穿刺术(Amniocentesis)的必要。这两种测试类似,绒毛取样术可以在12周的时候做,一根长长的针刺进子宫里,从宝宝脖子上取下一些细胞,羊膜穿刺术要到16周才可以做,同样是穿刺进子宫,但只要取一些羊水即可。根据取出的样本,可以判断出宝宝是否有染色体异常以及常见遗传性疾病,准确率99%。因为测试具有侵入性,可能导致流产,三百位做过测试的孕妇里有一位流产。之前和医生M会诊的时候,她让我们在咨询了这位护士之后再做决定,一来测试需要不小花费,二来有流产的风险。在美国,像我这样的孕妇算是“低龄孕妇”,我今年29岁,Raj爸爸28岁,按照妈妈家庭医生的说法“你自己都还是个孩子”,妈妈算是在美国的朋友圈里怀孕年龄最小的女性,周边的朋友生第一胎的平均年龄大约在33岁,有大量美国妇女的头胎在35岁之后,对于她们而言,孩子产生染色体变异的可能性高得多,这样的准妈妈才会选择做此类测试。而妈妈和Raj爸爸之所以提出这个问题,是因为Raj爸爸的伯伯患有遗传性疾病肌肉萎缩症(Muscular dystrophy),我们担心Raj爸爸是这个基因的携带者,会遗传到你的身上。“如果检查出来有,那我想把孩子打掉。” 当时妈妈是这么对医生M说的。

这位资深护士相当冷静与博学,细心询问了妈妈和Raj爸爸双方家里的病史,根据她的医学知识,如果妈妈的妈妈,妈妈的外婆这条线上没有出现过不可解释的遗传性疾病,那么宝宝就很安全,因为大多遗传性疾病是通过X染色体传播,即由母亲向女儿遗传下去。对于我们的宝宝患有和Raj爸爸的伯伯一样的病症的可能性,她说如果我们需要,她可以推荐一位基因专家与我们会诊。总体来讲,护士阿姨认为我们没有做绒毛取样术或羊膜穿刺术的必要,加上流产的风险实在不容小视。

谈话结束后,护士阿姨说,“那我们来看看今天宝宝的状态怎么样吧。”于是我们再一次见到了你,亲爱的宝宝。这一次你竟然是醒着的,动来动去已经基本是个小人的样子,护士阿姨很耐心地让我们慢慢看,34毫米的你一会儿翻个身,一会儿踢个腿,一会儿伸伸手,小样子特别逗人,头部的长度占了身体总长的三分之一,爸爸妈妈对着屏幕发出“哇哇哇”的惊叹声。忽然护士阿姨停住手,“你们看,这是小朋友的脸。”我们定睛一看,真的噎,你的眼睛和嘴巴竟然清晰可见,嘴唇似乎厚厚的,和Raj爸爸的印度嘴唇一模一样,我们再次发出一阵唏嘘感叹。没想到两周之后你就长大了一倍,长成了个完整的小人,虽然性器官在之后的四周才能发育好,但手和腿都灵活了起来,是不是知道爸爸妈妈在看你,还特意对着镜头露了个脸啊?第一次做B超听到你心跳的时候,妈妈没有哭,这一次拿着四张你各种姿势的照片,望着你那幽幽的眼睛和厚厚的嘴唇,妈妈流泪了,想起之前妈妈说过“如果孩子有问题就打掉”那么狠心的话,心里很不是滋味,你已经是个独立的生命了,只是因为和妈妈有缘,暂时住在妈妈的肚子里,妈妈唯有保护你的义务,没有杀害你的权利。

这是你十周四天时的样子,从头部到臀部34毫米,
已会翻身、举手、踢腿了,在妈妈肚子里快活地游来游去。

这时候的你眼睑还没有长出来,也听不见任何声音,
性器官还没有发育,不管是男孩或女孩,都是一个样子


再接下来我们继续又会诊了护士阿姨推荐的基因专家,说法是一致的。另外还在12周的时候在专门的产前研究所做了一次B超,这是加州政府推荐的产前检查,查的是唐筛综合症与脊椎不正常发育的可能性,通过测量宝宝脖颈处的长度、脊椎长度等方式得出一个概率,如果概率低于1/100,都算是低风险,无需继续再做检查。因为检查的方式对孕妇没有任何不良影响,医生一般推荐孕妇先做这个检查,如果检查结果高于1/100,比如1/50,1/30这样的,再选择有风险的羊膜穿刺术。你的检查结果都很好。

准妈妈因为身体里荷尔蒙的飙升,情绪波动增大,妈妈本来就常情绪不稳,这个时期更是累坏了Raj爸爸,他不仅要忙着给妈妈准备吃的,还要时时保持积极亢奋的精神状态,随时准备着在原地手舞足蹈跳舞给妈妈看,有时跳舞都不够,得换着花样哄妈妈开心。即便是这样,因为早期孕症的难忍以及远离家乡的苦闷,妈妈还是哭了好几次鼻子。

...........

Saturday, April 5, 2014

View on History

Nehru's view on history:

"If history interests you, if you feel some of the fascination of history, you will find your way to many books which will help you unravel the threads of past ages. But reading books alone will not help. If you would know the past you must look upon it with sympathy and with understanding. To understand a person who lived long ago, you will have to understand his/her environment, the conditions under which he/she lived long ago, the ideas that filled his/her mind. It is absurd for us to judge of past people as if they lived now and thought as we do. There is no one to defend slavery today, and yet the great Plato held that slavery was essential. Within recent times scores of thousands of lives were given in an effort to retain slavery in the United States. We cannot judge the past from the standards of the present. Everyone will willingly admit this. But everyone will not admit the equally absurd habit of judging the present by the standards of the past. The various religions have especially helped in petrifying old beliefs and faiths and customs, which may have had some use in the age and the country of their birth, but which are singularly unsuitable in our present age.

If, then, you look upon past history with the eye of sympathy, the dry bones will fill up with flesh and blood, and you will see a mighty procession of living men and women and children in every age and every client, different from us and yet very like us, with much the same human virtues and human failings. History is not a magic show, but there is plenty of magic in it for those who have eyes to see."

Friday, April 4, 2014

Beijing or Delhi? -- froom book "Smoke and Mirrors: An Experience of China" By Pallavi Aiyar

This is by far the most accurate words that described my feelings being as a "Chindian". I am facing the same emotional struggles each every day when I think, and each every day when I am traveling back to India and China.

----

"Do you like living in Beijing? Or was it better in Delhi?" my Hutong neighbors inquired whenever they got the opportunity.

This last question in its various forms was one that I spent much thought grappling with and my answers were as variable as the day the question was posed. Following conversation with Lou Ya and other toilet cleaners in my neighborhood I would think back to the wretched jamadarnis back home and marvel at the relative dignity of labour that China's lowliest enjoyed.

In my hutong the refuse collectors wore gloves when picking up the garbages on their daily rounds. This single, simple article of protective clothing and the barrier it created between bacteria and skin lent them at least a modicum of self-respect. Their children almost always went to school. They may not have been well educated themselves but could usually read and write enough to avoid the worst kind of exploitation.

These were modest gains and not everyone in China could claim even such moderate progress. But were I one of the millions-strong legions of cleaners, sweepers, janitors or nightsoil workers in India, I would probably prefer by some twist of karma to have been born Chinese.

But on other days I felt differently. These were days when I spent hours hunting for a Chinese source amongst the country's think tanks, universities and research institutes for fresh insight or an alternative point of view on an issue for a story I'd be working on. It was always such dishearteningly hard work.

China's was a pragmatic society and over the years I met any number of people blessed with more than usual amounts of a canny, street smart, intelligence. As evidenced by the Zhejiang entrepreneurs, ordinary Chinese were masters of locating the loopholes, of finding escape routs, of greasing the right hands and bypassing stifling regulations. If need be they could sell contact lenses to a blind woman and chicken feet to a vegetarian.

But while it may have abounded with consummate salespeople and irrepressible entrepreneurs, Chinese society remained deeply anti-intellectual. More a product of a political and educational system that discouraged criticism and encourage group think than any primordial characteristic, this was the aspect of China I personally found most wearying.

It was the absence of passion for ides, the lack of delight in argument for its own sake, and the dearth of reasoned but brazen dissent that most often gave me cause for homesickness. When the foreign ministry interpreter Xiao Yan claimed in Tibet that China was different from other countries in that all Chinese must think the same thing, she was consciously overstating her case in the light of Jes' comments. Even so, a nub of truth in what she said remained.

In China, theses who disagreed with mainstream, have views outside of the parameters set by mainstream debate more often than not found themselves branded as dissidents-- suspect, hunted, under threat. 

Thus a professor who misspoke to a journalist could suddenly be demoted. An editor who pursued a corruption investigation too zealously might find herself fired. A lawyer who simply tried to help his client to there best of his ability could, were the client of the wrong sort, ironically land in jail himself.

In universities like BBI the idea was drilled into students' heads that there were right answers and wrong answers. While ambiguity and attitude scratched against the natural grain. There are thus occasion when despite all of India's painful shortcomings, I would assert with conviction that it was better to be an Indian than endure the stifling monotony of what tended to pass as an intellectual life in China.

But then I would return to Delhi for a few days and almost immediately long to be back in Beijing where a woman could ride a bus or even drive a bus without having to tune out the constant staring and whispering of the dozens of sex-starved youth that swarmed around the Indian capital's streets at almost any given time.

Later on the same day, however, I might switch on the TV and catch a session of the Indian parliament, not always the most inspirational of bodies but when looked at with China-habituated eyes, more alluring than usual.

回到中国,我时常被问及的问题又不大相同,并且是最直接,或许也是最难回答的问题。北京的出租车司机总是毫无例外地问我:“哪个更好?中国还是印度?”我在北京广播学院的学生经常问我:“你是更喜欢中国还是印度?”胡同里的街坊们只要逮住机会就会问:“你喜欢住在北京吗?还是更喜欢住在德里?”

最后一个问题以各种形式出现,对于这个问题我考虑了很久,每次碰到它,我的答案都不尽相同。与娄亚 (音译)和我家附近公厕的保洁员聊过之后,我想到了印度那些可怜的女佣;我对于中国最底层的人仍享有相对的尊严感到惊讶。

在我住的那条胡同里,垃圾工每天来收垃圾的时候都戴着手套。这样一个简单物件——起到保护作用的覆盖物、细菌和皮肤之间的阻碍物——至少让他们得到了一点点自尊。他们的子女基本都在学校接受教育。他们自己或许没有念过什么书,但一般说来,他们的读写能力足以避免最恶劣的盘剥。

这些都算不上是多大的益处,而且在中国并不是每个人都能享有这种不算大的进步。但如果我是印度那数百万保洁员、清扫工、门卫或者掏粪工中的一员,我恐怕更愿意通过命运的轮回投胎成为中国人。

但在其他的日子里,我又会有不同的感受。当我为了报道写作中所涉及的某个问题,而花费数小时的时间在这个国家的智库、大学以及研究机构中寻找中文出处的时候,就属于这样的日子。这永远是一项让人垂头丧气的艰苦工作。

中国是一个实用主义的社会,那些年里,我遇到的所有人都拥有异乎寻常的狡黠、市侩和聪明。正如浙江的企业家所证明的,普通中国人在钻空子、找退路、行贿赂、避开僵硬的规章制度方面,堪称大师。如果需要,他们可以把隐形眼镜卖给盲人妇女,把鸡爪子卖给素食主义者。

一方面这个国家可能拥有大量成功的推销员以及有闯劲的企业家,但另一方面,中国社会仍然存在着根深蒂固的反理性倾向。这并非本性,它更多的是反对批评、鼓励集体思维的政治和教育制度的产物,我个人认为这是中国最令人反感的一个方面。而缺乏对思想的热爱,缺乏争辩本身所带来的快乐,缺乏虽刺耳却不无理性的异议,这些都是最令我想家的原因。

在中国,那些不认同主流的、官方的观点的人,往往被打上了异议者的烙印,并因此受到怀疑、驱逐和威胁。

所以,一个在记者面前说错话的教授可能会突然遭到降级处分,一个太过热衷于腐败调查的编辑有可能会遭到解职。具有讽刺意味的是,一个只是想尽其所能帮助委托人的律师,如果接了不该接的案子,有可能会把自己送进监狱。

在大学里,比如中国传媒大学,“答案只有正确和错误之分”已经烙在学生的脑子里。尽管实践中你也会察觉到或者会利用那种模棱两可、不置可否的答案,但在纯粹的理性层面却并没有给它们留下多大的空间。

身为一个好辩的印度人(那是一个视异见为常态的国家),中国人这种被强加的、整齐划一的思想和态度,是违背我本性的。因此,尽管印度存在着种种不尽如人意之处,但在某些时候我会坚称自己宁愿做一个印度人,也不愿意忍受中国精神生活的压抑、单调。

然而,当我回到德里呆上几天,立刻又开始渴望回到北京,在那里,女人可以驾驶公共汽车,而且不会有一群性饥渴的年轻男人不停地盯着看、小声嘀咕,但在印度首都的马路上,这种场面几乎随时可以碰到。

但在同一天,稍后我打开电视,看见印度国会正在举行一次会议,尽管内容未必是最吸引人的,但在一双习惯了中国的眼睛看来,却比平日好看。

中国在过去三十多年里所取得的经济成就或许是史无前例的,但印度在政治上的成就同样如此。印度的民主政治在后殖民国家中之所以近乎独一无二,不仅仅是因为这种制度的存在,在一个因一种理念而非地理、语言或者民族结合在一起的国家里,这种制度得来不易。这种理念甚至赞美多重身份的可能性。在印度,你不仅可以,而且欢迎同时拥有多种或者一种身份。

因此,我是一个德里人,也是一个说英语的人,一半婆罗门人血统一半泰米尔人血统,受的是印度教的熏陶,一个后天选择的无神论者,一个天生的穆斯林。但把这些多样性串在一起的,是最强有力又最难以归类的一个身份:我是一个印度人。

所以说,印度政治成就的了不起之处就在于:它发展出调节机制,可以处理大范围的多样性以及频繁、活跃的争执必然导致的结果。构成这种机制之基础的指导性共识,或许也是唯一的共识,就是在一个民主社会,你并不需要一定得赞成——除了表达不赞成态度的程序以外。

对于“如果我能选择的话,我是愿意生来就当印度人还是中国人”这个问题,所有这些事实仍然无法帮我给出一个确切的答案。

与中国学生所受到的教育——使他们相信答案只有正确和错误两种——不同,我总是被鼓励去做完全相反的事情。当年我在德里念哲学的时候,穿着印度土布做的无领长袖衬衫、为人真诚的桑卡兰教授总在课堂上大声强调:“永远不要盲从。”

如果我必须给出一个简略的回答,那我会这么说:如果能出生在哪怕是一个中等富裕的家庭,我大概都会选择印度而不是中国。

在印度,尽管政府所提供的服务一直不佳,但只要你有钱,就能生活得很滋润。因此,大多数德里家庭,只要负担得起,都会购买家用发电机以及在花园里配备自用管井,以备停电、停水之需。警察工作不力,所以许多家庭都请了私人保安。通过必要的私人渠道弥补了公共产品的匮乏之后,在印度你就可以随意享受讨论“印度理想”的本质所带来的思想上的快乐,或者享受赢得一场精彩的辩论所带来的肾上腺素上升所带来的兴奋感。

印度存在着真正的乐趣和自由,更重要的是,享有这些乐趣和自由的并不仅仅是精英。论辩传统构成了印度世俗和民主政体的基础,涵盖社会所有阶层。

但在另一方面,如果出身贫寒,我就愿意在中国碰碰运气,那里虽然没有民主选举,但与印度相比我更有可能吃饱穿暖有房子住。最关键的是,中国给我向上跨越社会经济阶层的机会相对要大。换句话说,如果出身贫困,我悲惨死去的可能性在印度比在中国要大得多。


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Queen

This movie makes me nostalgic. A bag-pack, a flight ticket to Europe, you will end up having the exact same experience as it shows throughout the movie.

I had my time. Danced until sunlight and forgot how did we end back in the apartment, sang in the street with a group of drunk buddies, at 3am shouted the young lecturer's name in the street where he lived, had a whole team of French police showed up at my door because of party noise complain, and I flirted with them by teaching them Chinese.

But the movie is not about loosing oneself, it's about finding oneself.

I was looking for myself, in that space in that time, with people I want to remember and want to forget.  I was finding myself.

Getting drunk and crazy is an expression of youth, an easy way out, but not necessarily the better way, or the only way.

The only way is to have no regret, live to the richest and fullest.

By finding myself, I explored everything possible, tried everything available. By finding myself, I discovered my inner strength which helped me through the struggle of pursuing a life with the love of my life. By finding myself, I tasted the flavor of freedom and independence, and could never let it go.

Yes I found myself in that space in that time, but life moves on.

I am entering a new phase of life, with a lot of self-sacrificing and care-giving. I might fortunately discover more of myself, might somehow lose a bit of myself. But it's all part of the exploration.

The important thing is, leave no regret, live to the richest and fullest, with compassion, with love.



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Gender

Creation of life is a miracle, funny thing is, for a lot of people in this world, gender is more important than life.

"Did you ask your doctor the baby's sex?" "When can you tell the gender of the baby?" "Did you see the penis in ultrasound?" "Ahh, it's ok, you can have a lot of kids anyways. Hihi, then you will be a (worthless) housewife."

My mother started to ask such questions following the confirmation of my pregnancy, around three weeks after conception.

I was for some time feeling annoyed, didn't want to communicate with her, therefore didn't get to know what symptoms she had in her early pregnancy. Usually mother and daughter share the similar symptoms.

When I was young, my mother often cried in front of me, asserting that "it's too difficult to be a woman", next life she wanted to be born as a man, even this life, how much she wished she was a man.

When I made mistakes, she sometimes shouted at me, "girls are useless, how much I wished I had given birth to a boy".

Thus almost half of my childhood, I was praying that I would suddenly wake up in the morning to find my penis.

I was raised up like a boy indeed, never had long hair, never had a doll, seldom wore skirts, discouraged to act like a girl but encouraged to act like a boy, the way of walking, talking, eating, even cursing. I naturally felt that girls were dump and disgusting, just like how the other boys felt about their opposite sex.

So what do I want for myself? A boy or a girl?

This is the most frequent question I received for the past two months, within the first three questions during the conversation, definitely there is one concerning the gender.

To be honest, I want a boy.

I want the best for my kid, the easiest way out, being a boy.

As a boy, I wouldn't worry if he would be sexually assaulted by one of the "nice" uncles at home when he is nine years old, I wouldn't worry if he would be knocked up by his teenage first love, I wouldn't worry if he chooses to elope with his lover and settle in some far away foreign country.

As a man, he can easily dream about being a world leader, a powerful politician, a football superstar, a world-famous writer, a courageous journalist, a successful entrepreneur, a business tycoon. The doors are wide open for him, the other side of the doors are filled with 99% men, he just need to work hard to become one of them.

If I am having a daughter, I wouldn't want to impose high hopes to her, no world leader, no politician, no industrial tycoon, she can study whatever she feels like, she doesn't need to be outstanding because it will require a lot of sacrifice, most of the time, her rights to happiness.

I only want her to be honest, simple, humble, confident and compassionate, in that way she can receive the maximum amount of happiness. I also wish her has her father's facial features and my skin, because under normal circumstance, being pretty can make her life much easier.

What about being influential and helpful to the society? I think as a woman, as long as she finds her inner strength, she has high self-esteem, that is good enough to lead an example.

I will also secretly save up some money for her, if she wants to travel around the world, I want her to travel in comfort, booking decent hotels and transportation so to avoid harassment and trouble; if she unfortunately experiences severe sexual attack, I want to be able to fight for her, paying up legal fees, psychological consult etc; if her boss fires her because of pregnancy, I want her to have some backup.

If I really want a baby girl, maybe it means I am selfish, I want a child who can understand me, who is sweet and tender, who will cry with me, who knows how to love and care for me, who will always be there for me.

I made a deal with my husband, "in our next circle of life, you will be the wife who carries out the pregnancy."

I experienced almost all symptoms possible for early pregnancy:

  • sever headache - due to sudden surge of multiple hormones, headache from the beginning 
  • lost of appetite - bitterness in mouth, everything tastes differently, all food seem disgusting, can't even talk about it
  • huge amount of gas and acid - burping every 30 seconds, also experience heartburn and bloating 
  • nausea and vomiting - even a thought of food or smell can trigger it, anytime, anywhere
  • hyper senses - sensitive to any smell especially cooking smell, phobia of odor is even developed
  • hyper emotions - crying on dreams, songs, movies, even some imaginary thoughts 
  • frequent urination - frequent stops in highway, always looking for toilet
  • constipation - some mornings I find blood in stools
  • fatigue - can't focus on doing one thing for more than an hour
  • failing eyesight - sometimes my eyes feel blurry all of sudden 
  • starving - every night 12am, every morning 5am, I wake up in unbearable hunger

It's only been two months, but felt like years. Everyday I am counting, wishing the symptoms could ease down. Most of the days, I couldn't even get up from bed, lying there, waiting to feel hungry, force myself to eat something, then go back to hibernation.

Getting out of room is the toughest thing, when the door opens, cooking smell trapped in corridor could knock me out badly, flip over my stomach so I throw up everything in there, even the last bit of bitter acid.

Having children of their own is usually a couple's decision, but only the woman knows how hard it is, physically and mentally.

Because I have experienced discrimination, sexual harassment, now pregnancy myself, I know being a woman is difficult and would want to avoid to be one. But if I am blessed with a baby girl, I couldn't be more happier.

That's why I am always wondering, those mothers and fathers who intentionally kill their female fetuses, this action is the result of their love to the free-from-suffering unborn girls, or the hatred to the entire gender?

And I think either it's cowardice or hatred,  because of it, our world for women is not getting better.

#save female fetuses

#stop female foeticide


Related post: Life

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life




This is a 38mm long, 10 weeks 4 days (8 weeks 4 days after conception) little embryo, temporally living in my belly.

The gender of the embryo is not yet defined, its sex organ not yet formed. So I call this little thing "it".

My belly is still flat, no weight gain yet. If three weeks later, the decision be made to kill this little thing, because it doesn't have a penis, nobody should be able to notice.

When we were in the hospital, watching the ultrasound image, it was jumping around, stretching arms and legs, flipping over, kicking. And we saw that, it was smiling the whole time, with its thick lips fully resemble its father's.

It is a life. Grows by second.

Two weeks ago we saw its heart beat for the first time, 150 times a minute. It didn't have a little bit human shape by then, looked like a frozen turkey in the supermarket, it didn't move at all.

Only two weeks after, we saw the fully functioning arms and legs, we saw its smile on the face.

Maybe it already started dreaming, and wondering where it is living right now. Soon it will have the urge to know the world, to know everything, to explore.

We didn't care to ask the doctor if she could tell the gender of the little thing.

Because it is our baby, the gift from gods, the reminder of our love. That, is all it matters.

It is a life. Grows by second.

#save female fetuses

#stop female foeticide



Related post: Gender

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reimagining India

The subcontinent was home to some of the most sophisticated early human civilizations. Critics of India's modern infrastructure would do well to recall that inhabitants of Mohenjo-Daro and Rakhigarhi built the world's first-known urban sanitation systems five thousand years ago and may have been the first to use wheeled transport. For centuries after Alexander's departure, India was governed by powerful Hindu dynasties who patronized the arts and took keen interest in religion, philosophy and practical science. Megasthenes, the first western historian to venture beyond the Punjab into the Gangetic plain, described a land so verdant and fertile that "famine has never visited India and there has never been a general scarcity in the supply of nourishing food." Venetian traveler Marco Polo, who claimed to have visited several ports in India during his 1292 voyage from China to Persia, declared Malabar (now Kerala) on India's southwest coast to be the "richest and most splendid province in the world".

....in Akbar's court in Fatehpur Sikri, notes British historian Alex von Tunzelmann, Akbar lived in "unmatched opulence... in rooms done out with marble, sandalwood and mother-of-pearl, cooled by the gentle fanning of peacock feathers." By comparison, Elizebeth was a "weak and feeble woman" who ruled over a "grubby, unsophisticated, cold, dismal little kingdom."

--Reimagining India, by Mckinsey & Company 2013