IN CURATION OF TIME AND FASHION

Read the original post on Lawo Blog.

Fashion became a word of inspiration only after 1800s, as a part of the desire to express personalities, which has long lurched inside of our heart chamber. Even then, fashion limited its feet around the golden courts of royalties and upper-class. Distinction of class has created the demand for mastery of colour and fabrics, in an extension of cultures, paintings, music that have permeated the birth of aristocracies.

In contrast, the exploration of fabrics is a more familiarised matter. China has silk for thousands of years in trade. America went in war for cottons. Regardless, the combination of creativity and fabrics came after the Great War, when the new socialites played further the magic of les grands couturiers, dressers in French.

Now, fashion is one of the buzz words leading publication taglines, and people have never been so fixated on the details of the teeny-weeny stitching line on the dresses of a famous star or blogger. We are a generation that wears our qualities on appearances, as if the variation of eyes nose and mouth are not enough to tell the difference apart.

However, are the traits only distinctive by garments? Shouldn’t a way the person talks, the manners the person holds, through careful and yearlong cultivation, be the subtle, inexplicable, and everlasting effects a person leave to public?

Famous stylish heavyweights in history, Jackie O., Marilyn Monroe, Simone de Beauvoir, to name a few, have achieved their permanency in fashion not through a mere adaptation of outer wears, but also the eloquence, time spent during their living and career, and value to navigate a course of history. One can easily find an audio or interview of the names on YouTube, and one can see how the individual voice of one person speaks a world apart – seductive as Jackie O., soft-spoken as Monroe, sharp as de Beauvoir.

One may say, today’s fashion focuses on diversity. A man or woman can be as free as he or she wants, whether it is ghetto, hipster, elegant, expensive, explosive, gothic, or anything, he or she has the blessing from democracy, liberty, and innate insouciance to pursuit wildly. There is no one set of conformity or one standard of values. Nevertheless, there are a bundle of terms still making humans beautiful: efficiency, fairness, righteousness, creativity, nature, etc. One brand only explores one aspect of one human, yet one invested story can be passed down to generations, and through this jointly understood value, we learn to be humans, to sustain ourselves, to walk pass the struggle formers have been, and to be the truly stylish. Style is made by tears, sweats, errs, laughter, all the traces the wrinkles on our skin, not just a replaceable garment made today or tomorrow.

Maybe it isn’t the story to everyone, but when thousands of years ago, Plato walked pass a flea market, he sighed, “There are so many things I do not need!” Why would he need ornaments, when his stylish thought already stunned generations?

 

Inspired by the thinking above, Zhuorui Fu Collection, a simple and classy style curation based in New York, London, and Paris. The focus is elegance and timelessness, with 100% handmade and hand-stitched bespoke designs from France and USA in Italian cruelty-free leather. You can view more on zhuoruifucollection.com or follow Instagram: zhuoruifucollection

Zhuorui Fu, a soft-spoken strong girl and an outsider fashion entrepreneur. Curated her simple classy style from intellectual pursuit and being different. She went to St Andrews, the alma-mater of Duch and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Mary, and UPenn. Literature, culture, and adventures are key elements of her life. She is of Chinese origin and trilingual in English, Chinese, and French. Tibet, Mongol, Indian, and Persian cultures have influenced her. She is beyond grateful to see sunlight every morning and be alive.

Follow her on Instagram: zhuorui_fu

A Guide to Esfahan, Iran

My Guest Blog for Solo Female Traveler Network: A Guide to Esfahan, Iran

Read the original of my guest blog on Solo Female Traveler.

 

City Guide

Nearest Airports

Tehran International Airport, Isfahan International Airport, Shiraz International Airport

 

Brief history of city

Esfahan (in Persian pronunciation, or Isfahan in English), “half of the world”, is an important industrial city of Iran. It has beautiful architectures and art preservations, built and made from the great Persian emperor Abbas I’s time. An industrial city, the city sees sunshine most of the time. Temperature gap of day and night is big as Esfahan is a desert city located down Zagros mountain. However, with the Zagros landscape, it is easy to get away to natural landscapes from Esfahan as well. It is a vibrant Middle Eastern metropole with plenty of food, entertainment options of modern cafes, traditional mosques, private nightclubs and parties, and formal praying, etc. No matter you are the history hunter, or just the fun hunter looking for exotic entertainment options, Esfahan is the place to be.

 

Solo female traveler friendliness rating 1-10

9. Iranians are renowned for being extremely friendly. Although being a beautiful woman alone, especially if you are Asian, you may be looked at or greeted at from random men (and women) often, but those greetings are mostly out of curiosity of social customs, despite they may sound racist or annoying from the ears of Western visitors.

Good for SFT, honeymoon.

Solo female traveler safety rating 1-10

10. It is one of the safest countries in the Middle East. It is very safe. Even walking on the street alone after midnight as a single female is safe (in the city centre).

Crime rate is near to zero, and no targeted crime. Although, watch out being ripped off at certain dodgy places. However, since the whole income level is low in Western standard, even a rip-off is an average price for Western visitors.

Public transport rating 1-10

7. Inter-city transportation relies heavily on luxurious buses. Trains and metros are limited and tend to be cumbersome. In Esfahan city, it is advisable to take a taxi (from the hotel), and walk. Locals rely heavily on cars. Taxi can be a rip-off unless taken from your hotel. Walk can also be a good option to enjoy the view. Flights are also good options to travel to other cities.

Top five-ten experiences

  1. Nashe Jahan Square (Imam Square)

  2. Shi-o-she Bridge

  3. Kaju Bridge

  4. Vank Church

  5. Armenian Quarter / Jolfa (the nightlife quarter)

Best five restaurants

  1. Shazard (Splurge choice)

  2. Toranj (Splurge choice)

  3. Safavid Traditional House

  4. Hermes Café (awful wifi)

  5. Mustache Café (only for drinking amazing tea and coffee, limited food options, no wifi)

(Persian food is very meat-heavy, so beware, vegetarians. You won’t go hungry, but the food is a large part of the culture.)

Nightlife

  1. Ani Café (amazing wifi, the first coffee shop of Esfahan)

Shopping

Persian scarves in Jolfa area or the big bazaar in Nashe Jahan Square

Best three hostels

Rag Rug (Instagram: Ragrughostel)

New and millennial hostel opened by a great man. Modern hostel with a Persian touch and international friends and a cool vibe.

Contact: Sahand Tabatabaie (+98 9131182707, sahandtabatabaie@gmail.com)

Best mid-range hotel(s)

Viana Hotel (Instagram: viana_hotel)

$40 per night, awesome service, highly recommended. They take care of everything for you. Fast responses.

Contact: +98 (31) 32360100, info@viana-hotel.com)

Best luxury hotel(s)

Abbasi Hotel (Personally I have no experiences, because for $100 or plus per night, I’d rather stay with Rag Rug or Viana or home stay, which are way cheaper with way better local experiences)

Best home stay(s)

Amin Barkhodari (https://www.facebook.com/groups/291501688012602/)

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/amin.barkhordari.1

A super welcoming guy, who offered me many helpful tips. Although I did not have time to meet him in the end, but his warm messages gave me tremendous aides.

Do you tip? When? How much?

No. It is not a tip country.

Outlets/energy

European round-point plugs.

Average daily spend excluding accommodation and sample daily budget

Apart from accommodation, eating or going around, 10-20 euros are more than sufficient for your day. Normally, 5-10 euros for a day will make you live like a queen.

Currency

The most important thing to know about money in Iran is that visa doesn’t work anywhere and there is a ban on American companies. You need to bring ALL of your money in cash to Iran and exchange it when you’re there. They do exchange it everywhere though, hotels, visitor centers, etc,  but there is no exchange at the airport. Most people use their hotels to arrange everything.

Rial and Tohman are the local currencies. Be aware that local prices are often quoted in Tohman, which is -10x of Rial. However, Iranian currency can be messy for a visitor to understand. Spending more days in Iran will help you understand the price level, currency nuances, and the value of your bills.

Health/vaccines

No vaccine needed in a normal situation. However, please refer to your embassy’s website for further instruction. Normally, the country is way safer than the embassy warning, esp from English-speaking Western countries due to political standings.

Safety tips

Iran is super safe just be normal. Girls, please wear long pants and long dresses. Short dresses even with boots can be bizarre on the street. Better to cover your hairs but don’t worry if your hijabs fall of your hair. Follow the simple rule of not flaunting wealth, overly exposing curves, or being excessively responding (to the catcalls of men on the street). Live in the city centre. Ask your hotels for everything. They are the best helpers and friends to you (:

Esfahan Iran

  • Cars race on the street, so be aware of this Iranian custom! Locals cross streets normally but the fast-coming cars can seem intimidating when you first try to cross streets.

  • Locals love to invite foreigners for food or tea. You can take them up on it if you want!

  • Instagram is widely used in Iran, so the best way to stay in touch with your new Iranian friends is through Instagram

  • You need to use VPNs to get over Iranian internet. Express VPN is great.

  • It is the best to get a local SIM card for the fast internet with a VPN.

  • Before you go, join the Facebook group of “See You in Iran” and you will be showered with local help and tips

  • Be relaxed. It is one of the most beautiful, exotic, and safest countries to visit.

  • Feel free to DM / contact me on Instagram: Zhuorui_fu or YouTube: Zhuorui Fu if you have more questions!

Be sure to follow Zhu!

Instagram: @Zhuorui_fu

YouTube: Zhuorui Fu

 

5 Picture in the Pink Mosque, Shiraz.

Poetry in Pole-Dancing: A Shenzhen Burlesque Dancer’s Journey

A Shenzhen native, burlesque dancer Zixy pursued a degree in Fine Arts at the Institute of Chicago and there gained experience as a pole dancer, a career choice rarely seen among Chinese students overseas. Years later, she’s positioned herself at the center of the world burlesque dancing scene: New York City. Her journey has had its ups and downs but in the end, she’s discovered poetry in her work as a pole dancer. Here’s the account of her lyrical journey from Shenzhen to New York.

Tell me about some of your formative experiences in Shenzhen.
Besides studying in a liberal environment [at Shenzhen Middle School], I also started mingling with adults and people in the real world when I was in high school. I moved out with a classmate… into a studio apartment, so we had our own space and own lives outside of school.

How did you get into the art of burlesque? 
I did Chinese traditional dance before. A lot of my inspiration and moves still come from my childhood exposure to traditional dance. Frankly, I got into pole-dancing [in high school] out of coincidence. When I was practicing and teaching dance, I met one person doing poles. He asked me to try. I tried. I had never expected to fall [in love with] pole-dancing so much. But as I began doing more and more of burlesque, it became a part of my life.

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Have your parents ever argued against your dancing? And how did your pole-dancing develop while you were in Chicago?
No, they were supportive. I have a great family, and they love me. In Chicago, everything went well. I kept practicing over there, studied Fine Arts and used the opportunities the city offered, like [going] to events, [and] kept fine-tuning my dancing moves. Then I started teaching. Gradually, over four years, I accumulated more students, more [of a] reputation, earned money, and for sure my skills became better as well.

How did you end up in New York?
By the time graduation loomed, I was facing a lot of pressures to have a real job. [I was] a mess, I do not know how I got through it. I applied for a fellowship program in New York with my current dancing firm, which I had wanted to enroll in since my first year. They only take a handful of people globally and they took me. I felt it was the right chance to come, and I needed to change my life – I couldn’t stay in Chicago anymore.

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How is New York so far?
New York is amazing. Way more opportunities and a faster-paced life… For example, this year, I choreographed a pole dance duet with an amazing dance partner and dear friend Brand On. This dance portrayed the kind of romance that has often been called “toxic” or the “crazy kind.”

Each rehearsal is a deep conversation between us. We trust each other, invite each other into our most vulnerable memories, share painful feelings and the ugly stories that lie beneath the butterflies and happy romance in our individual histories. We seek unity, and we are curious about the unknown. Together we made a team and walked on an introspective journey together.

It is very rare to find a friend that you can put so much trust in. He has a lot of strengths and I have flexibility. Our skillsets are complements to each other while we practice. Besides crafting our movement, we spent a lot of extra time building connections and discussing the details of our expressions. Sometimes we do not touch our apparatus for the whole rehearsal, but just practice looking into each other’s eyes. We want to find the right gaze. Sometimes we hold each other’s hands to feel the right touch.

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On our last show, we literally started arguing right before getting on stage. We warmed up too much for our emotions and we got into our characters. The stage monitor had to calm us down and tell us to “save the energy for the stage.”

Do you ever feel over-eroticized by others?
Frankly… no matter where you are, the whole entertainment industry is very sexualized. I embrace the fact instead of rejecting it.

Follow Zixy on Instagram (zixy_zhang), Facebook (ZixyDanceAndArt) or YouTube.

Zhuorui Fu is a style journalist and entrepreneur based in New York, London and Paris. Check out her YouTube, Instagram account (zhuorui_fu) or fashion collection website and Instagram (zhuoruifucollection).

 

Original Post: http://www.thatsmags.com/shenzhen/post/23383/poetry-in-pole-dancing-a-shenzhen-burlesque-dancer-s-journey

Dongbei Designer Talks Philosophy, Cool Couture at Shenzhen Fashion Week

My interview with Jason for That’s Mag. Originally posted on http://www.thatsmags.com/shenzhen/post/22742/interview-designer-jason-li-on-chinese-fashion-inspirations

 

Designer Jason Li went from ice to fire, making his way from Harbin to Shenzhen, two geographical extremes in China. His story reflects a changing Chinese fashion scene which blends North and South, West and East, youth and experience.

We chatted with the creative director of Xin Interest Studio in the midst of Shenzhen Fashion Week 2018, where his designs were being shown. Recounting his past 17 years in the creative industry, Li shared style inspirations as well as difficulties encountered at a time when China’s fashion industry was still in limbo.

Fu: Tell me about your designs. Who or what inspires you?
Li: Design pieces that converse with both West and East make me think. A Shanghainese designer who also happens to be my mentor, Yi Hui, inspired me. His persistence in pursuing good quality – his studio focuses on entirely handmade Chinese menswear – gave me courage. Especially when he told me, “Xin, keep on making your Chinese-style fashion.”

Yi Hui does not open stores everywhere: quality over quantity. Although he does haute-couture luxury clothing, which give him money, I don’t. My pieces are for the younger generation, who do not have excessive purchasing power; even if they do, they won’t buy ultra-luxe.

For example, the T-shirt I am wearing is a gift at [our] events. Even if some people want to buy it, I don’t sell it. I want to influence people with my idea of ‘New Life’ instead of just selling clothes.

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What is ‘New Life’?
First, it comes from my first decade of experience working at first-rate international luxury brands. As I went, I found out that the customers did not know what they were actually buying – they were not aware of what styles to pursue in life.

So I wanted to do clothes that are appropriate to wear according to the occasion, and to add a ceremonial feeling to everyday life for my customers. Appropriateness is the first element: [customers should] buy things that suit their income level instead of saving three months for an expensive bag.

Second, New Life is also tailored for people that are already materially fulfilled. Those people also need a harmonious, healthy and unrestricted life. I want my customers to be open to try alternative colors, for example, to allow a customer that always says “I can only wear black” to wear something else.

In particular, many of my Harbin customers tend to spend a large amount on styling, yet the look in the end is not aesthetically appealing. My team and I are here to teach them how to balance their garments with accessories, bags, and proper perfumes.

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What distinguishes you from other designers?
Interaction. Most Chinese designers authoritatively decide on the themes they want to create, but my studio promotes a culture. For example, the Chinese dragon T-shirt I am wearing right now is a very normal T-shirt. But with the ‘New Life’ [philosophy] and my design, this T-shirt has meaning.

Inside my collar, I embroidered, ‘don’t forget the beginning,’ which encourages people to protect the purity of their initial feelings. It is a new year’s resolution, too. At the back is a demon. Everybody has a bad side, which I think should be hidden. We need to show our positive side to people. This is also a part of ‘New Life.’

These meanings endow my customers with a mission. I also try to use environmentally-friendly traditional Chinese zharan [coloring techniques] in the new piece too, which is special as well.

When you just started, I am sure it wasn’t easy, especially two decades ago. 
It was really difficult. I started in Harbin with two floors for my brand. At first, nobody bought my clothes – people didn’t understand. They were into international brands. We lost money for many years; only recently did we start to see profits.

But I stayed and insisted on what I wanted to do. My sister is also a designer. In our early years, she was in Shenzhen, so I actually came to Shenhen to work with her. We did brands like Chanel, Gucci, etc.

It was good money, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. So I went back to Harbin to stay with my local crowd. At first, I sold what other designers had given to me. As I gradually tapped the pulse of fashion sales, I could foresee the next best-selling types of clothes and I often bounced back details back to the designers to modify.

In the end, my co-workers said, “Xin, you are so good at designing, why don’t you start creating a brand yourself?”

So I started. Before fashion design, I did hair styling. Then makeup. Then garments. Then a positive outlook. I think elegance comes from the heart, so I started to promote [certain] thoughts and states of mind. My clothes are accoutrements of the culture.

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What’s next for you?
I never thought about selling over the whole country or expanding overseas. I just want to do it well and do it locally. Maybe there are chances to go big, but I’d rather use my [time] to influence my local community. Friends from Shenzhen always say, “[Jason], Harbin does not have a fashion scene. Come to Shenzhen.”

I know that, but I’m persevering in what I want to do. The taste in garments of many Chinese people, especially those in Harbin, are still undeveloped. I have much to work on.

Follow Li on Weibo here.

Zhuorui Fu is an entrepreneur and budding influencer with a passion for fashion. Watch her YouTube recap of Shenzhen Fashion Week here. Find the Youku version here.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

[Images via Jason Li]

Decipher Cui Xu: A Braveheart and A Free Spirit in Fashion — Interview with the designer behind Cuixu

I caught up with the choker designer Cui Xu on her inspirations on the new design before #NYFW2018. I discovered many of herpersonal lessons only to share with you.

 

Zhu: Who is the ideal Cuixu customer?

Cui Xu: It does not matter if the customer is a girl, a boy, young or old. I hope the customer is a devil-may-care person, who breaks through the social customs and constraints. He or she can find beauty in ordinary things. I used to love this video game called Life Quote (?), where my friend and I collecedt items and build houses. My friend loved building big houses, but I just drove a little boat in the limitless blue ocean for 20 minutes. Eventually, I found a temple in a desolate island. I was more than exhilarated! My friend was like, now you found this temple, so what? But I mean, for me, this is the whole point of the game.

 

Zhu: Will you focus on chokers, or will you look to expand?

Cui Xu: I would love to do more fashion accessories especially shoes and bags, but for now I want to focus on chokers. People can see my talents from the chokers. Doing chokers is testing water for me since they are smaller and easier to make.

 

Zhu: What is Cui Xu (not your brand Cuixu)’s1 year and 3-year plan?

Cui Xu: In 1 year, I want to diversify my designs and proliferate our products. I also look to meet more friends and networks, within the industry or outside of the industry. I welcome cross-industry co-operation. I don’t know what will happen yet, but I am definitely open for it. (Zhu: Cui Xu is a multi-talented designer. She has directed films on Cuixu’s mini-film on Moonscooper). In 3 years, I want to be more established in the industry and be known for my design. I want to balance the commercial elements and creativity. I don’t want my design to be too commercialised, as I want to preserve the spirit of my brand.

 

Zhu: You have co-operated with Calvin Luo, who excels at creating unisex garments, in NYFW Spring Season 2018. What is your take on gender fluidity?

Cui Xu: Gender neutralisation in fashion is a big trend. But I do fashion accessories, which are not defined by genders by nature. I won’t accentuate the neutralisation of my pieces. My products are fully accessible when my customers want them. When I was in high school, I was already quite fashionable. Sometimes female garments could not satisfy my needs for aesthetics, so I just hopped on the small size of male clothes. As long you are happy, everything happens organically.

 

Zhu: What do you think of the recent #metoo movement or Women’s March? How will you help the people who love your brand gain confidence?

Cui Xu: I am supportive. As a female designer, I am happy to see that the status of female at home and at work elevates through these movements. But I am not necessarily a feminist. I hope genders will not confine our takes in social roles. For example, although I am opening my business now, I won’t think of me fighting like a man. I work hard as a human being. To help my customers gain confidence, I want my brand to be a system. It is not like you wear a pair of shoes or carry a bag you will be more confident. It is the spirit of my brand that will make my customers resonate that power.

 

Zhu: You have also co-operated with another Chinese brand, Lanyu, in the last NYFW season. Lanyu has intentionally incorporated Chinese elements into their work. How about you?

Cui Xu: Lanyu comes from generations of Chinese silk family. It is understandable that Chinese elements form a big part of Lanyu’s DNA. I admire it and agree with it. However, I grew up with less salient national identity. I studied in Europe; now I am doing Cuixu in the US. Cuixu is a US-registered international brand, only that the designer is Chinese. What belongs to a nation also belongs to the world. For sure Chinese identiy have subtly inspired me. For example, the new piece Moonscooper was inspired by an old Chinese tale. In the tale, someone tried to steal the moon by scooping the shadow of the moon on a lake. In Moonscooper, I have a moon, and the symbol of luck, the Star of David. I want my customers to simply enjoy my design first, then want to know about the culture behind. They give my design they confidence vote. Because they do not like me as a result of the culture, they want to know more about the culture due to my design.

 

Zhu: Why did you choose to start from New York?

Cui Xu: Let me give you two anecdotes. The first one happened when I was still studying in Italy. I had a roommate, who is a very friendly guy. But when I asked him, where are you from? He raised his head, filled with prides, said, I am a New Yorker. That impression stuck in my head for a long time. I was wondering, what is the place that made my friend so full of confidence when he talked about the city? I could see lights elicited from his body. I pigeonholed this question for a while. After working in Shanghai for 2 years, I wanted my own brand. I saw a documentary that interviewed people on the street of New York. One scene swung to an old man in a café. The staff asked him what did he think of New York. He said, in New York you can pick up opportunities on the street. Even as he sat in a café for 45 minutes, someone would come up talk to him and give him chances. I am a big believeer in luck and opportunities. That is why I am here. It is funny that no friends or relatives have made that influence on me; I picked the route myself, and out of the influence from two strangers: my distant roommate in Italy and this old guy on the street of New York. Maybe it is destiny.

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Zhu: What are your hobbies? Where you get your inspirations from?

Cui Xu: First, my work is my top hobby and my passion. Second, I enjoy Nature. I love going into the wildness. Third, I love fishing. My grandpa loves fishing and he takes me around when I was little. Gradually I got this habit with me. I also like playing basketball; I have signed up the basketball school team in high school. I have both quieter hobbies and active likes. As for inspirations, they come from life in various forms. Say if I talk with you, I capture something, I may ave a kaleidoscope of imaginations from there. I carry a notebook with me and capture those thoughts. Geniuses can be easily lost in the glimpse of eye, so it is very important to write them down. I do this ritually every night before sleep. And my favourite designer is Martin Margiela, the iconoclastic founder of Maison Margiela that shook the fashion world with his deformed garments.

 

Zhu: What will do if you were not a designer?

Cui Xu: Well designer is probably the best occupation I can have. I have done a few personality tests, and designing is my best match. If I were not a designer, I would have been a geologist. I really admire those Nat Geo professionals. Inside my bone, I am an adventurous person.

 

Zhu: Where did you get inspirations for your new bag?

Cui Xu: For example, the Moonscooper bag takes on the old tale of China with Star of David. So for me, the bag takes on the poetic parts onto a practical bag. To open the bag, you have to glide the handle to open the bag, like extending your arm to scoop the moon. In addition, it adds interactions with customers. Creating interactive products is very important to me. Interaction enlivens the products. Products are not just functionality.

 

Zhu: What’s the rest on the agenda for this incoming NYFW FS 18?

Cui Xu: For this season, we are still in the final testing phase of our new products. Many influencers have showed great interests for our new bags. We will continue to finish the short commercials on the new product, a fairy story about Moonscooper. I screen wrote for the video.

 

Press Release is here: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/decipher-cui-xu-braveheart-free-225000876.html

Tibet, of Life, Death, & Sex

Death, the eventuality of all men, is an unalienable right. To die properly and in lasting calmness, is fundamental to our living, yet gravely deprived in the modern reality.

Above words condensed from the Tibetan milk I have been fed, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

The book illustrated points that put me in tears, often retraced of how my beloved grandfather died and the events led up to his demise. My grandpa had pleaded to “die in peace, please give me no tears”, yet sorrows still prevailed and the family held a crowded enterrement in 2012, which could have been disturbing to the dead.

Do you know how to die?

Before my grandpa passed away, he had already foreseen his fate and quietly arranged his last words in an autobiography. The dying, called forth by the lingering clouds of the mortal worlds, had sensibilities 7x more acute than us normal dummies. Imagine you are the person to leave the world, do you want your family to cry their guts out and make you regretful of letting them alone? Or do you want to go in harmony when you know your family can be fine without you?

We often say rest in peace, yet what is the peace. The author, Rinpoche, suggested the death to happen at home instead of the hospital. For any man would long for the warmth of home. The nurse in the hospital might graduate from Cambridge, yet when she faced the question of a dying old, who was choking himself to death and had tears in his eyes, “Will God forgive me?” She was so scared to answer and had to see this man straggle off his last breath.

Will God forgive?

Yes, for divinity is forgiveness. But forgive, only if we can let ourselves go, by living in a purposeful and fulfilled life.

What is life?

My mere mortal self could not give the answer a full glint. Yet I had sought into books, such as 7 Years in Tibet and Dusts All Settled (尘埃落定). Two books varied in large difference, for the former has recounted the poverty and spiritual loyalty of the old Tibetan society from a Western perspective during World War II. The latter, which gained fame in China, described the life of the rich Tibetans away from capital Lhasa. Nonetheless, a hierarchical Tibetan society opened its full flung: youths died early, boys sent to religious schools, royals bullied their power, divinity preserved and people were parochially happy. Day after day, they fixed the same cog on the same carpenter machine and never asked, “why did the someone dictate my life and death, and why am I born in this world?”

The purpose was simple: fix this cog and God will save your soul.

Maybe it is the old Tibetans lovely naïve, or maybe it is the materialistic waves that washed our spirits. Truth lied in the middle.

While I continued to ponder on what is life, I found out that the respected Rinpoche, the author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, was accused of raping women en guise de spiritual cause in 2007. In the powerful Tibetan faith, one can indeed find the true end via intercourse. It is an open secret that the top religious heads had many scandals. Maybe all is “empty” in the eyes of the wise, or may be the seduction of minds after the Tibetan world had been opened up to many more choices.

I will leave the debates to your fine judgement, along with the question of whether Tibet was “invaded” or “liberated”. I have never been to Tibet, despite it had long been my virgin dream. I scouted so many jewelleries from this remote land, that when I strolled down on roads, people often asked, “Young lady, are you a Tibetan?”

I would have smirked and said yes, since I had assimilated many of its history and stories; but I thought over it, and decided to be truthful, “I wish, but no.”

For Tibet had been this maiden myth of western and eastern attentions, the old and the new, the exotic fantasy and religious purity. Will life go on like a wheel, I would love its beauty continue to grow, like a dying man resting in his last glimpse to the sky, no fear of death, but only a calmed heart, to the vivid glory of having once been alive.

*7 Year in Tibet is also famous for its Brad Pitt-starred film, which captured the sceneries and cultural images of the Tibetan society. Long film, but good watch if you are curious to visualise the place. Tibet nowadays is not very open to Westerners under Chinese watch. As a Chinese, I can go as I wish, but I had the impression that Westerners will need to submit a proposal of visiting Tibet. Fact not checked, please double check with the permission online.

My Home is Not My Home: Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Aftermath.

Like many other societies, China had sailed fast; like the palms of Jykell and Hyde, good and bad.

I started my grand trip of Eastern 3 cities: Shenzhen, Shanghai, & Hong Kong this Thanksgiving break. The opinions might not be the most comprehensive, yet may the attempt snatch some tinkering.

Upon landing, I wheeled into Hong Kong on a modern Tesla – from Uber. The journey licked into a ramen dinner with Wins. Wins and I met 6 years away. He is the young generation of Hong Konger, caught in between the fierce verbal shootoffs between mainland and this assimilated little islet. Years passed, he still works at the insurance field, but he added on resume another skill – experiencing ramen, although a Japanese thing.

In short, I stumbled into the underground restaurant with my 50-kilo suitcase bomb. I said, “Wins, I am going to make videos now. Can you tell me of your life and your ramen endeavour in 1 min?”

“Wow, hold on Zhu.” Wins preserved his Hong Kong gentleman manner. He said, “Okay, this is called Dried Noodles, which you dip on sauces and eat without soup.”

The dried noodles extended their moonlight-kissed arms, and my foodelicious lust quickly burned. I grabbed one of the noodles and stuffed a spoon into my mouth, yum yum, a bit heavy.

“I think it is too salty.” Wins called out, “I tried many noodle shops in Japan including this one; this chef tossed in too many salts.”

I agreed. Wins is not the most expressive extrovert in the world, yet he is vocal. Wins said, “The best of Hong Kong is its lack of culture. Because it does not have a culture, it takes on all others. British, Chinese, French… But like now, I am afraid it will become Chinese.”

I said “me too”, despite my passport said I am Chinese. I had grown up next to Hong Kong, and saw its boom-n-bust. Cannot judge it, because history rarely allows commentaries from the depowered.

From one traditional trade port, I swung my feet into the other – the mainland crown jewel Shanghai. Like Hong Kong, it preserved the East-West blend since it was once a 6-country concession: British, French… Yet unlike Hong Kong, Shanghai is Chinese.

Since a little girl, I also wildly tittered my toes in Shanghai and wanderlusted on the financial shore. Now more skyscrapers mushroomed, and local taxi drivers continued to cry, “The Didi car-sharing eroded our lives. There are so many rich men, but not a little taximan.”

“Why don’t you drive Didi?” I asked.

“I am old now. I was once a trademan by the port and had money. But I gambled. Now the rich men from outside of Shanghai occupied the space. Poor us Shanghaineses.”

He insisted on counting me his past glories. I listened. In a way, it reminded me of the horsemen during Paris Belle Epoch, whose jobs fled because of their inability to suit auto demands.

Nevertheless, I posted Shanghai observation on YouTube. During the trip, I caught up with my childhood friend, film director Yuan. He said his life changed when I ching-chinged him a cocktail at Four Seasons a few years ago. He had never been exposed to an exorbitant lifestyle, and he carved my teaching by heart – escaping school and making money since. Now he drove a new car and paid my dinner. He asked, “Zhu, there are four blood-sucking fields: film, finance, medicare, and food. why did you sweep yourself out of your old and start making no-margin videos?”

I said a stupid ox had struck my head and let me choose again.

No, I said, “They are all the same. I do what I love.”

With the fortitude of will to chase dreams, I crippled back to Shenzhen, the ultra-field of innovation. A friend detailed me his pursuit on battery big data, which he described as, “I shan’t say, cos you won’t understand. It is in the future, you can’t see now.”

I said, “Tell me.”

So he made some cocktails and told me how human society is behind time: you don’t know when your car battery will die? The future system records everything, including your battery. So you can swap your thing in and out as you go with the people nearby as data is transparent. Bye Felicia to the opaque high margin.

I said, “Bravo man.”

The days of Start-up Grind and Tencent Alibaba events yielded down to the inability of me finding wifi in China. In Shenzhen, you pay out of your electronic pocket and tap into any transportation system using your phone. Your national ID, which I left in Manhattan, spoke on the stand. The Chinese phone number, which I never had, welcomed me to the automation world. The lack of all above made my days tough as a stray dog.

I remembered I walked pass some job-seeking stations. Economy is growing under the drive of e-commerce giant, and many lowly jobs are in need. I counted the wages on the logistics delivery man or the guard man in cities, “RMB 100,000”, an equivalence of $12,000 (=€15,000) per year. I thought of how much Yuan spend in one night, or how valuable my friend’s battery company could be in the Capitalist world, I gradually understood.

As my wifi search finally drove me crazy and I had to leave China to the free world, my dad said, “What is going wrong with you? I have wifi and it looks great.”

He does not use gmail of course. I thought of how the friend said, “It’s out there, it’s just you did not see.”

Similar to our worlds? Ain’t inequality, the sheer comparison of modern innovation and lacklustre slowness of human behaviours prevalent in all of our worlds?

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