Thursday, 12 July 2007

23 Pork at Mao Jia

Its 12.44 Beijing time. In my apartment at Riversides, Shan Sui, meaning "water" and "mountain". Weather cool, dont see any sun from my study and I dont care, always better
than the usual 35 or 40 degrees, though I dont care about that either- I just slow down.
On my 9th trip since october 17, I slept well and long- the beneficial effect of a two hours delay.
At the exit I had an unexpexted reception of kind people, one of them the habitual driver. I described him earlier and I keep respecting him for the dedicated way he performs his duties.
During the trip I detected new proof. Every 5 minutes he seems to restart. He straigthens his
back and makes that movement atletes show before the start: he shakes his shoulders, makes
fists (one after the other!) and loosens them. And then on for the next stretch of tarmac- very
quiet yesterday. I imitated him and he recognized his habit. Laughed. Then he complimented me with a loss of weight by admiringly putting a flat hand on my stomach. I am not sure I deserved that gentle gesture.
While typing- always with two fingers, and as fast as they can be- I enjoy the tiniest sigaret
I ever smoked. Its called CAPRI and not much bigger than a matchstick. Menthol. Superslim.
From the USA. I got half a package of the lady R who joined me for a businesslunch with A,
the senior account manager of a firm that may help SchoutenChina by opening her nationwide
This meeting took place in Mao Jia. A had made a reservation in a seperate room, not unusual
in Chinese restaurants.

When you carve a dead pork, you first have to force your way through the tough pigskin. After that you will experience a sudden fastening of the speed of your knive, because it glides through
the thick layer of fat. After that you hit the muscles, the flesh.
This three layerd piece of the pig( skin, fat, flesh) was the lifelong delicatesse the chairman, the founder of the Chinese Republic, kept enjoying until his last days.
And that delicatesse was offered to me, guest of honor, in my chair facing the door. And yes
I really liked it. I ate too much there in MaoJia, the restaurant offering food from Hunan, where
the chairman was born. Simple food, rich food. I read somewhere, he caressed this food, also
to honor the simple village life, when times were harsh and heroic.

Just before I left I finished my novel. Gave it to read to Anne, Monique, Carry and Willem. The
book is not about me, but about a 43 year old character living his rich life deepdown in a dutch
polder untill things happen he no longer can control: old pains he cannot longer hide from, fraud
and the loss of ideals. " How can you attach to people. love them who once will leave you, betray
you." Thats not the story, thats the theme.
I placed the story in a polder, resembling the polder I live in Holland: de Bommelerwaard.
Zaltbommel is the main town. Thinking about my diner at MaoJia it comes to my mind
how poor the people uede to be in that polder. The peasant family very often raised a pig. Their only extravagance. Slaugthered the beast just in time for Christmas. I am talking about 90 years ago, when the social revolution in Holland not yet had taken place. Pig food a delicatesse for those who could afford.
I ate far too much from the chairmans delicatesse.
" Why," the elegant R asked.
I could have said:' Out of solidarity with my grandparents and their parents." But that
would have been a lie.
"It was delicious," I said.
"Think of your health." R riposted.
"Next time," I said.
I knew of course, it would take me 3 days to overcome the beneficial but poundsgaining
effect of the chairmans' delicatesse.
How did he manage, I wonder.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

22 Spoiled? My father and his aircooled shipengine

I only have to open my eyes, focus and a memory pops up. Now, at this very moment, my father
comes into my mind. Its 11.00 in the dutch morning. Just finished my mails. They almost concerned my 9th trip to China. Taxi will arrive 14.30.
Yesterday I could finish all the officematters and yes: there now is a natural pause in the flow of
work, so I can leave quietly.
Goals in China: meet high ranking officials at the Dutch Embassy, hiring the COO for SchoutenChina ( I mean speaking with 6 apllicants) And have lunches diners with new contacts useful for SchoutenChina.
Outside, my window shows a rippled Lake, whipped by an increasing western wind. All the redwhiteblue flags are ratling at their poles. A couple of sailing boats are fighting the white crested waves. Inside Skyradio softens me up with sweet middle of the road music. Behind my
back on the kitchenette The Senseocoffeeapparatus is screaming at me, but though I crave
for the brown watered drug I am firm: first finish this Blog.

When I cleared the table I sit on, I detected the advertisement Bobbiaan printed from Ebay. It
shows a 5 meter boat. White, shallow, easy. But more important: it is powered by an electromotor. I will buy this one, for the long summernights ahead of me. Noiselessly cruising
the Lake over calm waters heading for the setting sun and staring at the magnificent evening
clouds, pink and rosefingered.

Forty or more years ago our family owned a wooden sailing ship and for reasons of safety and
comfort it needed an auxiliary. Normally a Diesel is installed, deepdown under the floor and always watercooled. Of course: cooled by water. "deepdown under the floor"there is not enough
fresh air to do the cooling.
But my stubborn father decided differently. He bought a second hand VW engine- aircooled and he installed the black monster deepdown in the hull.
It was an excellent engine. It roared like a tiger, gave power like an elephant. The propeler
propelled. Our ship easy made 6 knots. All this however for only 13 minutes. Not that we- my
mother, my 3 brothers or 1 sister- cared about the tropical heat building up inside the ship: the
motor did, overheated like a burning furnace. It just stopped, where ever it felt necessary: in the
middle of a river, while landing, it did what it should do without the requiered cooling: it broke
Not my father however.
After 2 or three of those experiencesdhe started thinking. And yes, he invented the first
working aircooled auxiliary shipengine in the world.
Just by installing pipes from the motor to the backend of the ship. Ans when they got hot too
he folded them in layers of abestos (why not, we are all alive still, my father and mother died very old). It took him 2 months hard work.
It worked. Our boat was named"Swarte Hont" , black dog in english, a pirate name, very appropriate, because when on motor our Black Dog resembled a steamingship with all that
hot air pouring out of the tubes.
Of course there were people who thought my father crazy and we as his childen did not always like that kind of attention. He just laughed.
So here I am looking at that picture of that electrically powered boat, I bought within 5 minutes. Yes, I am spoiled. But warming up at the memory of Hein, my father, I immediately
get some comfort. Yes, I think, in some ways I resemble him: I am at least as crazy.

I will call my electrically powered toy with the only suitable name.
Swarte Hont.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

21 Perls and Boris and the Acrobat

The weather is gloomy, I have no other word.
Even the slightly rippled but otherwise calm surface of the Lake cannot seduce me to use an other expression. Grey, tiresome.
Thinking about the state I found myself in most partss of this day I hit upon Frits Perls. He is a may be longforgotten subtop Psychotherapist, long gone, who invented Gestalttherapy.
This branch of therapy, still not mainstream, has a simple theoretical fundament, I will summarize below.
But first I will reveal that while thinking of Frits or Fritz, I dont know, I immediately visualized Boris, the mate who joined me half a year after I founded my Institute- and left 5 years later to start his own practice.
I remember Boris sitting, the way only he could sit, Boeddhalike but
despite his slightly bulging forefront he always kept a very straight back. On the left of his
chair a broken packet of sigarets, on his right side an ashtree and one or two other packs, not yet broken. In his right hand a sigaret and in his very big left fist his lighter, ready to fire.
An excellent trainer, organization developer and therapist just like Fritz. But it was the picture
of Boris sitting in his chair that connected Fritz to him, because in all descriptions of the chainsmoking Perls he also sat there, the same way Boris did his work.
I thought of Perls because one of his maxims that popped up today. It goes this way( I do
it by heart):

I do my thing
You do yours
If we meet each other, it is wonderfull
If not: nothing can be helped.

Such is la condition humain.
The simple lines helped me somehow today. 10 days ago I came back from Beijing. It was
ok, but it took me 8 days to fully land in Holland, until today. I played my role in various
committees and decisionmaking ambiances, according to my environment in an effective way.
But effectiveness and efficiency are different species. I mean, while being effective I lost a
lot of energy to things lost. I had some attacks from the Acrobat, entering my brain with
develish sweetness and it took me many hours and mails etc to scratch her out of the lobes
inside my skull.
Gestalttherapy has a simple paradigm: when you describe a situation, any situation!, you
always express the feelings and pains and trauma's that fill your brain, through indirect means.
So when I described the weather as gloomy grey and tiresome and Fritz would hear me
doing so, he would immediately order me to redescribe and use the word "I" in stead of "the
weather is..."
'Yes, mr Perls: I feel gloomy, tiresome and grey.'
I assure you, I witnessed very heartbreaking and effective therapysessions along this line
of practice, very often followed by relief and catharsis for the person who was in the
centre of the (psychodrama-)session.
Why I am gloomy etc? One reason is the Acrobat lost. But there can be also an other factor
in play. I smoked far and far to much last 20 days. And that does not become me.
But I wonder: why?
I come to Perls again. It is an established fact that this long deceased therapist even at the
age of 80 always was surrounded by the most beautiful female clients. What feelings did
they trigger in in his old but always male heart? And did he maybe smoke to extinguish those
feelings? To put him self in the gloomy desensitized grey state I experienced to day. A state
that resembles a slab of concrete on top of of a pit full of boiling emotions?

All these thoughts brought me after work to write a letter to R. I dont know this good person verywell but she asked me "How about you?" and I expressed how I felt.
And before I entered the House at the Lake I had my bowl of natural salad at Heineke. And in my way home I visited Bobbian and Joyce and had a real sweet talk about how I felt.
"Dont think too much, let things overcome you, dont resist."
"Yes, Joyce."
So I will do give room to chance. Look my feelings right into their face. Stop smoking (again).
I dont like the word ' thing ' in Fritz Perls maxim. "I do my thing." What does "thing"
But while scolding at this word ("ding"in dutch) I must concede the fact that its time to clarify this question and specify it and apply it to my own life. And I tell you, the first fundamentals (and thats whats all about) are passing not only my frontal lobe but also are filled with the passions mediated by other parts of my brain.
"What do I want to do?'
Is that the right question?
Better is: "to what or whom I am devoting my passion and energy."
Small but significant difference.
But maybe I am already thinking too much.

PS the story Li Xiao the flute player is going to be translated in Chinese and soon will be added
to this Blog