UESTC building illuminated at night
I’ve been staying close to home recently because:
1. I’ve been sick with a bad cold for a week.
2. The semester is over and I’m too lazy to go anywhere.
3. It’s cold outside and it’s SO warm in my little office/study.
4. I have to complete my student grades so I can submit them to the school.
5. I’m actually improving my mind – reading about Buddhism (Alan Watt’s The Way of Zen, online reading about Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism, Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine – The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and some tutorials on black and white photography.
Sidewalk with trees and traffic
A distinctive local doorway
On Friday, feeling almost human, I ventured out of my immediate neighborhood for the first time in a week. I cruised around to southeast side of the city on the upper level of the #34 bus, then visited a bookstore where I purchased Sue Grafton’s S is for Silence, the 19th book in her Kinsey Millhone detective series. I’d read all the previous books from letter A through R in the U.S. Then I re-stocked my supply of Tibetan incense, virtually a necessity for meditation.
I caught a bus to the downtown area, intending to visit Carrefour for some groceries and to relax awhile at Starbucks, but I was in an adventurous mood when I arrived, so I went exploring instead.
I happened upon a small antique shop, which was unusual because I was a long way from Chengdu’s designated “antique district.” There were some rather bad contemporary paintings hung outside the shop, but inside there seemed to be some real treasures. A series of small, ghostly, weathered stone figures stared down from a shelf where they sat in shadowy contemplation. Architectural fragments from long-dead buildings, one of them in particular struck me: a small figure of a man, hands together in a gesture of blessing or meditation, a slightly bemused expression on his eroded face. “Ming Dynasty,” the shopkeeper said in English. As my attention wandered to a row of carved wood figures he announced, “Qing Dynasty.”
I gingerly picked up a wood figure and examined it. I then pointed to one of the stone ones and asked how much it was. “Ba bai kuai (800 yuan)”, came the reply. That would be a little over $100 US, certainly a reasonable figure compared to the hideously inflated market for antiques in Los Angeles. I decided to bide my time, and to come back in the future to bargain. In a back room, carved wooden brackets and fragments of door panels were displayed, along with some faded Tibetan thankas.
I continued my stroll, exploring a couple of ancient lanes that had not yet been demolished, and looking for good photo ops for my next camera outing. I doubled back and headed for Starbucks at the new Fortune Center Plaza shopping center, where I relaxed in a comfy chair and started reading my new Kinsey Milhone mystery. Then it was a detour to Carrefour to stock up on meat, followed by long wait for a #1 bus that wasn’t already overflowing with people. Home again to dog and dinner, and guitar practice.