Most of us do want to get out and see the world for various reasons, especially when we have all the time in the world, which is omnipresent on retiring from active duty.
I will not withdraw and seek isolation and seclusion, was my silent resolution and it did work effectively. I enjoyed the journey to countries which were on my unending wishlist. Unfortunately, coronavirus has effectually clammed us and suppressed us from forays in the near future. So be it!
If I can not see them sensually or feel them palpably, I do have the wherewithal to do so virtually, through pictures and write ups, abundantly and conveniently available. I did just that! I kept combing the internet, reading books, watching pictures and videos. I was lost in the astronomical and the garagutan literature obtainable for each of the countries that kept flashing in my mind. I decided to keep it simple. I restricted myself to watch the pictures and videos and enjoy the stories relating to these places, especially their folklores.
Let us journey together to two places, the Great wall of China and Kyoto, Japan.
I must thank Jafar Shameem to permit me to post all the pictures he has captured during his visits to these countries. Thank you son, I love you!
Please do visit http://www.jafar.com and relish the beautiful photography.
Meng Jiangnu’s Bitter Weeping
There was once an old man named Meng who lived in the southern part of the country with his wife. One spring, Meng sowed a seed of bottle gourd in his yard. The bottle gourd grew up bit by bit and its vines climbed over the wall and entered his neighbor Jiang’s yard. Like Meng, Jiang had no children and so he became very fond of the plant. the plant grew bigger and bigger and gave a beautiful bottle gourd in autumn. Jiang plucked it off the vine, and the two old men decided to cut the gourd and divide it by half. To their surprise when they cut the gourd a pretty and lovely girl was lying inside! They felt happy to have a child and both loved her very much, so they decided to bring the child up together. They named the girl Meng Jiangnu, which means Meng and Jiang’s daughter. As time went by, the little girl grew up and became a beautiful young woman. She was very smart and industrious. She took care of old Meng and Jiang’s families. One day while playing in the yard, she saw a young man hiding in the garden. She called out to her parents, and the young man came out. Meng and Jiang liked this good-looking, honest, and good-mannered young man. They decided to wed their daughter to him. The two young people accepted happily, and got married several days later.
At that time, Emperor Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor of Qin) announced to build the Great Wall. So lots of men were caught by the federal officials. Three days after their marriage, officials suddenly broke in and took Fan Qiliang away to build the wall in the north of China. It was a hard time for Meng Jiangnu after her husband was taken away. She missed her husband and cried nearly every day. She decided to go and meet her husband. Saying farewell to her parents, she packed her luggage and started her long journey. She climbed over mountains and went through the rivers.
Upon her arrival, she was eager to ask about her husband. Bad news came to her, that Fan Qiliang had already died of exhaustion and was buried into the Great Wall! Meng Jiangnu could not help crying. She sat on the ground and cried and cried. Suddenly with a tremendous noise, a 400 kilometer-long (248-mile-long) section of the wall collapsed over her bitter wail. The workmen and supervisors were astonished. Emperor Qin Shi Huang happened to be touring the wall at that exact time, and he was enraged and ready to punish the woman.
However, at the first sight of Meng Jiangnu Emperor Qin Shihuang was attracted by her beauty. Instead of killing her, the Emperor asked her to marry him. Suppressing her feeling of anger, she agreed on the basis of three terms.
The first was to find the body of Fan Qiliang, the second was to hold a state funeral for him, and the last one was to have Emperor Qin Shihuang wear black mourning for Fan Qiliang and attend the funeral in person. Emperor Qin Shihuang thought for a while and reluctantly agreed. After all the terms were met, Emperor Qin Shihuang was ready to take her to his palace. When the guarders were not watching, she suddenly turned around and jumped into the nearby Bohai Sea.
In memory of Meng Jiangnu, later generations built a temple, called the Temple Of Meng Jiangnunu, at the foot of the Great Wall in which a statue of her is located. Meng Jiangnu’s story has been passed down from generation to generation.
Kyoto was the Imperial capital of Japan for over a thousand years, which left an indelible imprint on the city’s charm and old world sophistication. Here, tradition harmoniously balances with modernity. A manicured state of nature melds into urbanity. Rich in meticulously preserved history, this is where one truly begins to understand the roots of Japanese culture.
Considered by some to be the world’s first novel, “Genji” evokes particular pride in Japan’s ancient capital. The tale, written by a woman known as Murasaki Shikibu, is a masterpiece that depicts the life of an imperial prince and had a significant influence on later literary works. It has been revered by many up to the present day. The tale, is a masterpiece that depicts the life of an imperial prince and had a significant influence on later literary works. It has been revered by many up to the present day.
A Women and the Bell of Miidera
In the ancient monastery of Miidera there was a great bronze bell. It rang out every morning and evening, a clear, rich note, and its surface shone like sparkling dew. The priests would not allow any woman to strike it, because they thought that such an action would pollute and dull the metal, as well as bring calamity upon them.
When a certain pretty woman who lived in Kyoto heard this, she grew extremely inquisitive, and at last, unable to restrain her curiosity, she said: “I will go and see this wonderful bell of Miidera. I will make it send forth a soft note, and in its shining surface, bigger and brighter than a thousand mirrors, I will paint and powder my face and dress my hair.”
At length this vain and irreverent woman reached the belfry in which the great bell was suspended, at a time when all were absorbed in their sacred duties. She looked into the gleaming bell and saw her pretty eyes, flushed cheeks, and laughing dimples. She stretched forth her little fingers, lightly touched the shining metal, and prayed that she might have as great and splendid a mirror for her own. When the bell felt this woman’s fingers, the bronze that she touched shrank, leaving a little hollow, and losing at the same time all its exquisite polish.
The bell in that state still hangs in the monastery.
The Mirror Of Matsuyama
In ancient days there lived in a remote part of Japan a man and his wife, and they were blessed with a little girl, who was the pet and idol of her parents. On one occasion the man was called away on business in distant Kyoto. Before he went he told his daughter that if she were good and dutiful to her mother he would bring her back a present she would prize very highly. Then the good man took his departure, mother and daughter watching him go.
At last he returned to his home, and after his wife and child had taken off his large hat and sandals he sat down upon the white mats and opened a bamboo basket, watching the eager gaze of his little child. He took out a wonderful doll and a lacquer box of cakes and put them into her outstretched hands. Once more he dived into his basket, and presented his wife with a metal mirror. Its convex surface shone brightly, while upon its back there was a design of pine trees and storks.
The good man’s wife had never seen a mirror before, and on gazing into it she was under the impression that another woman looked out upon her as she gazed with growing wonder. Her husband explained the mystery and bade her take great care of the mirror.
Not long after this happy homecoming and distribution of presents the woman became very ill. Just before she died she called to her little daughter, and said: “Dear child, when I am dead take every care of your father. You will miss me when I have left you. But take this mirror, and when you feel most lonely look into it and you will always see me.” Having said these words she passed away.
In due time the man married again, and his wife was not at all kind to her stepdaughter. But the little one, remembering her mother’s words, would retire to a corner and eagerly look into the mirror, where it seemed to her that she saw her dear mother’s face, not drawn in pain as she had seen it on her deathbed, but young and beautiful.
One day this child’s stepmother chanced to see her crouching in a corner over an object she could not quite see, murmuring to herself. This ignorant woman, who detested the child and believed that her stepdaughter detested her in return, fancied that this little one was performing some strange magical art–perhaps making an image and sticking pins into it. Full of these notions, the stepmother went to her husband and told him that his wicked child was doing her best to kill her by witchcraft.
When the master of the house had listened to this extraordinary recital he went straight to his daughter’s room. He took her by surprise, and immediately the girl saw him she slipped the mirror into her sleeve. For the first time her doting father grew angry, and he feared that there was, after all, truth in what his wife had told him, and he repeated her tale forthwith.
When his daughter had heard this unjust accusation she was amazed at her father’s words, and she told him that she loved him far too well ever to attempt or wish to kill his wife, who she knew was dear to him.
“What have you hidden in your sleeve?” said her father, only half convinced and still much puzzled.
“The mirror you gave my mother, and which she on her deathbed gave to me. Every time I look into its shining surface I see the face of my dear mother, young and beautiful. When my heart aches–and oh! it has ached so much lately–I take out the mirror, and mother’s face, with sweet, kind smile, brings me peace, and helps me to bear hard words and cross looks.”
Then the man understood and loved his child the more for her filial piety. Even the girl’s stepmother, when she knew what had really taken place, was ashamed and asked forgiveness. And this child, who believed she had seen her mother’s face in the mirror, forgave, and trouble forever departed from the home.
Hope your journey has for some period kept your mind away from the present situation! God willing soon you will be reaching out to all the places in your wishlist!
2 thoughts on “Ruminating Future Travels”
Interesting blog, dear Shameem. It seems you do not want your travel preparation reading to go waste at all but have reproduced some choice pieces. My compliments.
Thank you Anil! The Coronavirus has locked down every aspect of our living! Travelling is distant for quite sometime. Why not ruminate in the meanwhile!