Year 2013. This trip, during the early four months of that year, was my last professional assignment and consequently my last project as a printing engineer. Since then I stored my suitcases in the basement and have been enjoying life in a different manner, one of the enjoyments being the writing and the publishing of this blog.
On this day, Sunday the 10th of March, I left the hotel early morning, after my breakfast. None of my colleagues wanted to come for a walk. It was to early, they said. I understood them, they had a rough Saturday night in a bar they enter, sat and order some beers to realize two beers later this was not just a bar but a bar for the LGBT community of Hohhot. They told me they felt very uncomfortable because they were obviously displaced but did not know what to do after ordering a bucket of beers… they decided to have some fun and enjoy the momentum as in any bar.
From my room’s window facing west side I could see the day started with a sunrise spreading its crispy rays across a deep blue sky. It looked very attractive and appealing to walk outside but I knew this was a trap. Deep blue cleaned skies only happens in winter in this part of the world and they mean cold atmosphere because that is what make the sky so clear and cleaned. From my window I could see all chimneys liberating a straight up steam which indicated the wind was at virtual zero speed. Put all these factors together it meant cold, very cold was to be expected outside. I dressed accordingly because there should be no excuses not to walk, just be prepared for those conditions, and followed my routines.
I targeted to visit a mosque I never visited since I first visited Hohhot in 2008. Some 80% of the inhabitants of the region declare to worship Tian and Aobao. The rest is divided between the 5 official recognised religions; Buddhism, Taoism, Protestantism, Catholicism and Islamism. But majority of the remaining 20% worship and follow a kind of transformed way of Buddhism from Tibet being the Han Chinese Ethnic the majority of followers. The official statistics can be biased due to the sensitiveness of Tibet struggle, just the name may frighten some, but unofficially statistics say that Tibet Buddhism might have a much bigger influence than the statistics says.
However being a minority the islamic community holds strong business power and we can see signs of it in the buildings rooftop architectural shapes, an unmistakable arabist minaret design indicates it in many of the buildings of the main business avenues of Hohhot. A very old mosque stands in the middle of the city. Painted with dark grey clay and decorated with bright color elements, it offers to visitors hints of its long past and the mix, or perhaps respect, the religion have had throughout the centuries in these far distant places when religion was not so disseminated for politically use.
I left and walked two more kilometres to the main city park. I felt my feet cold and wonder what temperature would be but was to cold and I was lazy to take off the gloves and remove the phone from my trousers pocket to check it out. I decided to return to the hotel and have a hot coffee before proceeding my walking journey. While crossing the park I saw a cage with white pigeons and it called my attention because their fluffy feather looked like a snow ball. They were absolutely freezing! This time I checked the weather information on my iPhone and it marked -21… no wonder why my feet and the pigeons were freezing!
I proceed back to the hotel and while that some thoughts crossed my mind. What I just saw on the pigeons reminded my mother in the old winter days. She always had a fluffy woollen shawl over her shoulders with both sides crossing her belly and the tips going to her back to keep tight as much as possible and keep the warm while working whatever domestic duties she had. She passed away 5 years ago and while walking I wonder why this thought came to my mind…
…oh, yeah! It was mother’s day! God sends us many times signs to read but we many times dismisse them, we tend not to listen…