October 1 marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and that meant a widely-televised military parade, an assortment of events on campus, and my impromptu guqin performance.
I got to the performance area to find out that the set up was a booth at the school fair. We happened to be situated next to the speakers for the local radio station, and I immediately realized it didn’t matter how well (or poorly) I played, nobody could here a thing.
So I sat down, set up my guqin, and started playing as people snapped photos all around me. I hope I looked good for the camera. Eventually, I found the entire endeavor to be quite futile and packed my guqin away. The student next to me had been roped into doing calligraphy. Being more familiar with calligraphy than music, I volunteered to help him.
During the course of the morning, I ran into old friends—from Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia—and happened to meet a curious local first-year who had just joined the guqin club. At least I’ll see a familiar face at the first club meeting.
That afternoon, I had scheduled an appointment with my guqin classmate who also happened to be a tea instructor at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University. Looking back, if I had known more about universities in Fujian, I would have affiliated with them instead of Fujian Normal University. They have an incredible library on tea production, history, and culture, as well as a well-established tea studies program.
Nonetheless, I’m glad that I was able to connect with them through guqin.
The conversation lasted a whopping six hours. We enjoyed countless varieties of oolong, jasmine, and red teas while discussing the current state of tea culture in China. Without getting too deep into nitty-gritty details, it was a very productive conversation.
I left with a small, yet beautiful momento from the day: a Longquan cracked-celadon tea caddy. It’s currently storing my Tieguanyin tea!