Monday, January 28, 2008

Wild Panda Captive Panda

I hopped on the train from Beijing to Hong Kong with a bag full of corn chips, cheese, yogurt, bread, I forgot chocolate, and pocket money for Carlsberg beer. I packed L’idiot (Dostoyevsky) , and a manifesto on theater from Grotowski. I was set for a full lonely leisurely ride of 25 hours, being rocked into a trance. My only responsibilities pertained to emptying my bladder regularly, washing my face and hands, brushing my teeth (hair optional).

I do not go out of China often enough. I stay in my bubble world in Beijing, like a panda in captivity. I am no longer an extraordinarily sighting though I get a trustworthy stream of “hellooooooooo” (crescendo) and occasional “I love you!” People around me consist of other pandas in captivity. Beijing in itself, even for the nationals, is one big zoo. Certainly we live in an artificial setting.

I climbed aboard train, a reserved multilingual panda, finding my cot. Within minutes, wild pandas came pouring in.

I’ve seen a wild panda freshly arrived in a zoo. We captive pandas like to take a piss out of them. What with their vegetarian habits of eating, their revulsion to harking and spitting (us too, though we play the “you’ll get used to it” card as if...), their devotion to Buddhism and martial art, and their outrage and social conscious over the inequality of wealth. Otherwise, the wild panda who comes in disguise is easily unmasked when he’s all smiles to Chinese ladies who seek him out for money and a passport, himself thinking he is the king pin, the shit, Casanova. (We laugh then cry, and sometimes bite.)

Though I’ve traveled outside of my zoo, I managed to keep my zoo habits safe. I even get to hang out with other zoo-mates half way across the world.

So I was taken aback when I realized I was in for a train ride with a cart full of pandas from the wild, and a handful of locals (pick your choice: Beijingers or Cantonese). I immediately took hold of my smug-gun, loaded it ready to shoot. But I’ve never had to shoot 46 of them. The game started with a panda in the wild asking to go pee. A local kindly offered information regarding schedules of WC opening. The wild panda thereafter assumed the local was a train clerk and acted as such. I loaded my gun and apologized to the kind local remarking he didn’t look one bit like a train clerk.

A wild panda came into my cube. She was a cute cuddly wild panda. But a wild panda she was. For all her traveling in the world visiting post card dioramas she couldn’t shed a tear being reunited with her panda kinship. Not while she had her tribe of 46 panda mates keeping the bars of her cage safely in place. (She’s outside of the cage).

The oddest feeling came over me. I wanted to grunt with this wild panda. Suddenly feeling outnumbered, realizing the fabric of my zoo world had been ripped and I was sitting in the wild stew, I was reaching out to be recognized and not left out.

Suddenly, I was a captive panda in the wild.

Last week I read a news about what what giant panda who had been found dead somewhere in Sichuan. It turns out he was a captive panda having been released in the wild. And his panda brothers (wild) had beaten him up to death. To prevent this sort of sad situation ever happening again, officials and etc... decided to hire police dogs to teach the captive pandas to fight, and are now showing them on top of this self defend Bruce Lee type classes, videos of how to fend for yourself in the wild.

Crazy hey!

So the first thing I did when I felt I didn’t have enough charges in my smug-gun was to send text messages to my captive mates back in Beijing, telling them of the society. The first answer coming back was whether a potential mate attracted my attention and I have to say no. But indeed the wild is where one can find fresh blood. And then just ha-ha’s and ho-ho’s. (The smug-gun).

For the first time ever while riding the Beijing-Hong Kong train, I am standing beside my cot, looking dreamily out the window, listening to the sound of the wild.

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