Friday, August 28, 2009

Green Oasis

There is no lack of trees and parks in Shanghai.

(A painting created with a scenery that is “borrowed” from the other side of the wall, bridging in the two spaces that were separated by the wall and at the same time, keeping a distance between these two worlds.)

Just right in front of C’s apartment, there is Guangqi Park, named after a Ming scientist Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) who spent his life promoting practical science and criticizing Chinese society for the decline of science and mathematics. He was the first Chinese to introduce Western science and technology into China by translating some of the works into Chinese. The surprising fact is that he was converted to Roman Catholicism under the influence of an Italian Jesuit and even got an English name for himself—Paul! Paul was buried in this park while that Italian Jesuit was buried in Beijing.

(As the gigantic wheel of time rolls forward, some old men chose to relish in their forgotten Times. An old man playing on his musical instrument for his friend.)

Guangqi Park is not large in terms of size but it does give one a false sense that it is bigger than its actual size. Playing with the sense of space is one of the techniques most commonly used in traditional Chinese gardens. Winding lane is one of the techniques.

Guangqi Park is a place of “happening” as there always seem to be a variety of activities. I came across a man playing on his er hu (two stringed musical instrument), accompanying another old man who sang in Chinese opera styles. There is a dance group at one corner, figuring out their steps. The other day, I met a couple practising their taichi fists. Some individuals laze about the park, relaxing in the serenity. There are others who found the park a nice place for a siesta.

(Enchanting doorway that functions as an exit and an entrance simultaneously, transporting you from one area of the park to another and thus creating a space within a space.)

There is a museum of Xu Guangqi adjoining the park and it was informative, in my opinion. I discovered that the technology of agriculture in China was already compartmentalized in the 16th century, depicting the importance and the advanced level of agriculture in those days.

(There is a Chinese saying that depicts the joy in the company of friends: A thousand cups of wine is thought to be far too few in the company of confidants; half a word is thought to be far too much spoken in the company of friends who don’t share the same frequency.)

(”Little emperor” (term used to describe pampered children borned in the administration of one-child policy) running amuck in the park with his granny tailing him.)

There were some personal letters written by Xu Guangqi on display but I found it difficult to decipher his cursive writing and classical Chinese. From the parts that I could understand, these personal letters to home read more like a dissertation.

(A green oasis in Guangqi Park.)