23 October 2010

You can't get here from there

A colleague was speaking to my wife the other day, and said that she heard that Blogger blogs may be banned or blocked in China. She did a little investigating and found out that it may be true. So this might be the last time I'm able to post until we get back from China. Just in case, though, I'm getting a little practice in by typing this one on my iPod Touch.

We are safely all in Emerson, NJ., our staging point for our flight tomorrow. It's then when we head out on our great adventure. This morning, my brother and I gathered the last information about our grandfather's academic career when we visited the library at RPI and photographed the large maps, charts and drawings at the back of his thesis. It was remarkable to hold the volume in our hands, knowing that he had once held it proudly. We had to take great care opening and refolding the papers because the had grown so fragile with age. I'm glad we digitized them before the became too brittle to handle.

It's hard at this point to put into words what we are all thinking. We who have not yet been to China are full of questions for those who have been before. For example, I wondered aloud what one has for breakfast in China (fried chicken feet is apparently an option). That prompted a long discussion of what our food options will be. Choices I will be looking for: noodles, fried rice, and broccoli.

We're watching a DVD of home movies of China that were made by a friend of my grandmother's while he was in the navy in the 1930s. The picture is a little fuzzy and my father is recounting the events of his escape from Shanghai, which was under bombardment at the time, to Hong Kong and beyond via freighter. Many of these stories I am hearing for the first time. Already, this trip is proving to be the opportunity to learn more about my dad and uncle than I have ever known or asked about. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and I will do my best to document it to share with my girls, first, and my wife, friends and extended family.

No comments: