Prince and Geisha

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I arrived at the Shaoshan guest-house and was ushered into a surreal world. It was secluded and peaceful. The rooms were large and luxurious. A portrait of Mao hung respectfully on the wall behind the receptionist's desk. No one spoke English. But I felt comfortable. The staff was exceptionally friendly. After a large meal I was shown to my room. Three beds, one canopied, all stood in a
neat row. A desk with ink bottles and ink brushes stood next to these beds. Cozy and luxurious was the best way to describe my new lodgings.

The small village of Shaoshan is where the heart of Maoism is left to be forgotten. You can still see Mao statues and red banners here. Also a feeling I felt in 1980. It is the feeling of virgin idealism. But also a queer feeling of exclusive privilege seems to radiate from Shaoshan. This guest-house could easily have been some kind of resort for party cadres. That's how the masses are separated from the masters.

Only now do I realize how little of the countryside I've seen in the last few months. Yet this rural utopia molded Mao's psychology. The Mao exhibition hall lacks organization nowadays. Mao's life is divided into nine rooms. Pictures of the old and young Mao are mixed up everywhere. He radiates heat and energy as mere mortals grovel beneath him. Mao is God. His glasses, his shirt, his match-box, even his sandals are on display under glass.

I peered into a storeroom and was surprised to see Mao busts of all ages jumbled together in confusion. Many exhibit rooms were also locked. Where was old Lin Biao? The Gang of Four? Deng Xiao Ping was now available. It was all a creepy psycho-ecology. I felt this necessary and remote feeling of detachment. The exercise of power seemed to demand this detachment. The masses were
separated from the leaders even as the battles were fought in their name.

A few postcards of Mao's manger were for sale. Also a few Mao t-shirts and little buttons with Mao's picture on them. Even red notebooks with Mao's portrait could be had for just 93 Fen. It was all yours for the asking. History seemed to be just a fiction. This realization pained me. If the past did not exist. Did the present? And what of the future?

Hong Kong

Mr. Lee was the manager of Swindon's books inside the Ocean terminal shopping complex. He told me to read-up on Sun Tzu and to be a man of superior balance. Truth was the only goal in life and you got strength from it. If you deviated from the truth you lost your focus and also the battle against evil. Nature was your partner always and you chose the battle-field by knowing yourself first. Then you became simply invincible. Actions demonstrated your power and your thought reflected upon all action. So went the balance.

It was now the Chinese new year. Crowds were clashing with the exploding fireworks. I shouted to Klaus. " Is this how it all ends? "

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