As Seen from 7 Time Zones Away

Great news

Very happy to be featured in an article and video about Mind Fleet and Postcards From Space products on the news site

More details…

I have learned from bitter experience not to depend on something that is promised for the future. Don’t even talk about it until it is a “done deal”. We Americans have a saying, “Don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.” Still, I received an email this week that had some exciting news. I hope this goes all the way to completion but I cannot control what will happen in the coming days. With that qualifier…
I am very pleased to announce that I have been accepted to contribute to an anthology called Success Mindsets which will be released shortly.
From the publisher:
It’s not chance, circumstance, or a lucky hand that makes the world’s greatest entrepreneurs – it’s their MINDSET! From Henry Ford to Andrew Carnegie, the titans of industry have always known that success and failure exist, first and foremost, in our minds. But that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel! Success Mindsets is the accumulated wisdom of some of the top-performing entrepreneurs in the game, dedicated to sharing EXACTLY what it takes to become one of tomorrow’s great leaders! Stay tuned, it’s coming out soon!”
The big push to the USA Today bestseller list will happen shortly thereafter, in just about two weeks. 
Success Mindsets will go live on October 26th.

Alex Tang, our beloved translator at Mind Fleet, also known as Magic Alex, has left us to start her new life as a graduate student in Lancaster, England. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we can stay in touch and, indeed, hope that she will be sending more guest blog posts and photos of her new life.

And, now, her first report from England…

As Seen from 7 Time Zones Away

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At the age of 32, I quit my job and started my MA program in Language and Linguistics abroad, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. And my parents were the last to know.

I grew up as a left-behind child since the age of nine and my illiterate parents spent over a decade toiling as migrant workers to support the family.

In 2012, when the polluted air triggered asthma in my father on several occasions and became a life-threatening condition, he finally decided it was time to leave and resumed his old job as a farmer back home.

Later on, when my mother’s gradual loss of hearing became an annoyance on the phone, we insisted that she give up job and go back home. Incidentally, she mentioned she was bothered with incremental pain in her wrist from the heavy manual work. She, along with her co-workers, worked more than 12 hours a day, with their pay below the official minimal pay. But never had she complained about her job, as what was staring at her face meant she would go from bad to worst, financially.

By then, I had graduated from university and found an Iron Rice Bowl, a stable teaching position at a public school. It was two hours bus ride away from home. My parents decided that they could finally make up for the family education-as they saw it- that had been absent from my life. So they have continued attempting to persuade me into the idea of settling down through marriage whenever the chance presents itself. There were times that my mother tried to manipulate my romantic relationship, and unsurprisingly the interferences backfired. Thus I saw little point in working close to home. Actually my workplace became further away each time I switched my job.

So when my cousin’s mother-in-law accidentally broke the news to them, they were quite astonished and felt offended. Several days later, when we were on the phone, my mother said they were disappointed to learn the news from someone else and that they would help me with the logistics. The turn of the events was surprising.

That might be the reason whey I felt obliged to spend some time with them at the end of the summer vacation. Thus, I embarked on the long journey home. Here is some factual information about my hometown. It is halfway between Chongqing, where I last worked, and Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. And it takes one hour or two to travel to or from the two big cities by the high-speed rail. Ideally, I could have reached home one hour maximum, except that it took me more than 7 hours. The construction project of the first railway station in the county, which turns out to be the fourth rail way line between Chengdu and Chongqing, is due for completion in 2025.

It was no surprise the intercity bus was half-an-hour late on my day to go home, then it was another three hours for me to reach the inter-city bus stop at my home county, and my last bus ride began 2 hours later, though it only took me 15 minutes to get there. Though it is the only rout to the outside world for my folks, it is a bus line that is far from busy. With a small population, it is more time consuming to operate business. Life in the urban and the rural areas are worlds apart.

Finally, the bus was in motion. As it moved away from the county in the direction of my home, the road became narrower. At one point, I saw pedestrians on both sides of the road walking hurriedly to catch the bus. The driver stopped even though there weren’t bus stops in sight.

Suddenly, I became more forgiving about the stupid mistakes I had made when new in town. I would have waved to bus no where near the bus stop. I would have often taken the bus in the wrong direction because I didn’t see the relevance between the side of the road I should be expecting the bus and the direction the bus is heading. For the first time, I realised that people brought up in the rural areas are equipped with minimal knowledge on how to get around in the big world.

Take my parents for example. Though they worked in Chongqing for more than 10 years, they seldom explored the city, which must feel, if not hostile, unapproachable to them. I assume that may be part of the reason why they didn’t buy an apartment there when they could afford one back then, though they lamented that they knew nothing about such investments.

When I arrived home, my parents stopped their work and walked towards me beamingly to greet me. After a brief reunion, they went back to work, chasing ducks home, making pig food, digging up peanuts, collecting beans, planting vegetables. Well, though they are basically penniless, they are quite occupied and definitely versatile.

I haven’t been involved in farm work since university. Working on the computer is a good getaway. I enjoyed a life at home, akin to that enjoyed by ancient emperors, who, as the Chinese saying goes, stretch their arms to be dressed, and eat when dinner is ready. At one time when delicacies were served, my mother couldn’t help but exclaim that she now had the capacity to take good care of me. Well, when they attempted to rush me into marriage, I accused them of being unqualified parents, getting married without having health check, and giving birth to me without giving me a hepatitis B vaccination. Obviously, my massage hit hard, even though I was aware people around them also don’t know better.

But as long as I can remember, our neighbours always get cool things ahead of us. Before school age, I remember waking up, crying for my “missing” mum, who would sneak out when I drifted into sleep to watch TV at our neighbour’s. In my fourth grade, my mother began to use sanitary pads. Before that, a strip of folded cloth would do the trick. Only I heard dried cloths could chafe the thigh, causing blisters. We didn’t have the washing up liquid until I was in secondary school. It was during my second year at work that I bought the first refrigerator in the family. The lists goes on. Therefore, it was not a bolt from the blue that they suggested I text them when I was abroad, as it’s worthwhile for them to use the existing phone plan that costs them 0.9 pounds a month and offers them minimal access to the internet.

On my second day in England, I woke up to the chirping sounds of birds outside my suite. Racing the blinds up, it was a crispy blue autumn day. And the greenery outside my window was eye-pleasing. It was time to send messages home. In my living memory, I never sent them any messages. We always went for phone calls, a more straightforward way. What should I say to them? After some editing, I pressed the send button. The message read,

Dear mama and papa, after a three-hour flight from Chengdu to Hong Kong, a 13-hour flight to Manchester, and a two-hour bus ride, I arrived at school, safe and sound. I claimed the isolation pact and did some cleaning and went straight to sleep last night. My 10-day self-isolation begins today. My room is well furnished. There is a computer desk with a desk light above, and a carpet floor. Out of the window are some low lying buildings and a sizeable grassland. Sometimes I get to see some squirrels running about. It is your hard work that has made it possible for me to enjoy such a beautiful and peaceful scene. I love you. Take good care.

Tears welled up. Oceans apart, I felt so grateful.

It is a good start.

4 thoughts on “As Seen from 7 Time Zones Away

  1. Hi Randy, glad to read your new blog. Alex is a really brave and great girl, though her parents are illiterate, she changes her life. In China, most of parents want to push their children to marriage, but they don’t really know what marriage means for them. It’s great to know that Alex quit her Iron Rice Bowl and flied to England for eduaction. Education will open up our mindset, everything will be better for her.

    1. Thank you, Bonnie. It’s hard to jump out of the box, but as you said, education can open up our mindset. Best of all, my parents have become more understanding and supportive, as they have seen the transformative power of knowledge/education. Thanks!

  2. These are the stories which have to be told. About misunderstanding and hopefully respect between generations. Thanks, Robert.

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