By Imran Khan
I had never travelled out of the country till before I was about to board the flight to China for an educational study tour. Perhaps I was very excited but at the same time was very nervous, because I had never ever taken such a long journey before, all alone. My journey began from New Delhi and my destination as Chengdu, but my flight was up to Guangzhou and from there a new flight to Chengdu. I was travelling by China Southern Airlines and the hospitality of flight crew made me comfortable but the fellow passengers travelling with me made me to think why I didn’t learn the Chinese language first before departing. Thankfully, there were some Indians travelling too with whom I started to converse and I quickly overcame the language worry.
After being in air for about five hours or so, came the moment when the aircraft was about to land at Guangzhou airport .The time of landing coincided with the setting sun. The view of glittering sky with beaming lights from tall buildings made me dizzy with the sensational and amazingly beautiful scene.
I had to hurry because I was about to take another flight to my destination. I hastily queued for the immigration formalities, cleared the security check-up within minutes and got the boarding pass for next flight.
Soon, the drama of flight delay happened. It got delayed by an hour and I started to freak out because in Chengdu, a person was waiting for me. With each passing minute, plethora of thoughts came to my mind. While waiting, I met with a Chinese guy and I began enquiring about the reasons over the delay. This conversation eased my nerves a bit because this guy could speak the English language. Nevertheless, I boarded the flight and landed at the Chengdu airport. I was a bit sceptical whether the gentleman would be waiting to receive me or not as the flight landed four hours late.
I arrived at Terminal 2 and paused a bit to set a plan in my mind how would I arrive at my destination; while I was trying to figure out the plan, a big surprise was in store for me. I saw a tall Chinese guy holding a white paper near his chest and looking at different passengers who were coming out of the airport. The surprise was that, earlier when I saw him I didn’t notice that it was my name written on it in bold font “IMRAN KHAN”. While I was looking at my name he guessed that I have arrived and started to come towards me. So I immediately ran towards him and hugged him as if I have known this person since years. He offered me a water bottle that he was holding and we both began our journey to the hotel in Chengdu which he had booked for me. By the time we checked in the hotel it was about 1 am. My host ordered food and I pounced on it like a starving man that I was.
Now that I had arrived at my Destination in China, I was very happy and the gentleman, now my friend “Chen” told me, he would be back in the morning at 9 Am. I could not sleep; perhaps it was excitement, so I started to look through the window which was an amazing sight for me. Back home we don’t have these tall glittering buildings with big roads. All through the remaining part of the night I was thinking how come Chen waited for me almost for 4 hours which perhaps shows his real nature. With this, it was 9 am and in came my first friend in China. He took me to the Institute and helped me in completing the admission formalities and from there to local police station and everything else that needed to be done. He remained with me as if he was my marker and helped in every aspect whatever I needed.
Back home we, Kashmiris, are renowned for hospitality but now my opinion has changed because the hospitality that I have received so far is worth mentioning and applauding. China is an amazing country which differs is every aspect from my home but I did find some similarity in food here. We too love to eat rice like the Chinese (my first meal in china was rice). Most importantly, the research culture and ethics are quite incredible here and this is the reason why I am here. I am optimistic as well as enthusiastic to explore this country with amazingly hospitable people around.
—The author is currently a senior visiting student at the UCAS Chengdu Institute of Biology. He can be reached at: [email protected]