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On Xinjiang time
by F. A. Hutchison
Issue 10
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Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China…

Gosh, there’s just mountains of stuff, food, things to eat, wear (from pantyhose to stocking caps, to three-piece suits), use in your house (TVs and rice cookers, stoves), things for every thing (comforters, uplift bras, running shoes, hiking boots, jewelry, sophisticated posters framed for your wall)! Gosh, I thought I was coming to some exotic outpost where you could buy a camel (plenty in the hills). Unfortunately, modernity has even taken over here! You can buy Camel cigarettes!

I’ve just walked around Kashgar to discover there’s everything here to buy you can get anywhere in the U.S. (or Europe), except one… I need a new bulb for my Maglite ‘torch,’ and they don’t have any! Of course, I could buy another flashlight, and probably will. No use having something whose parts you can get in Asia. Other than that there are ‘mountains’ of almonds, oranges, pomegranates, dates, apples, sweet potatoes. But, probably not turkey for Thanksgiving[1]! On the other hand, there’s roasted duck, and ice cream, candy, kites, ‘hacky sacks,’ the children play with (now a rubber-stranded looking thing like a dread-knot wig). You can buy the latest Japanese/Canon 3-chip digital camcorder for $2,500 U.S. There’s nothing you can’t buy in China. And of all places, Kashgar!

The Chinese are fascinated with automobiles too! I just saw a Citroen taxi cab! I’ve seen every expensive American and other manufactured SUV. The Chinese, in particular, love big black power machines! No wonder, they’re powerless! What has always sold automobiles is the illusion of power and freedom!

There’s an underground mall with stall after stall of clothing of every kind (silk long underwear), shoes, and everything else! I’m amazed! I thought I was getting away from it all!

I wonder if there’s any place on earth where you can? Maybe the ‘Artics,’ and maybe Greenland ?

Iceland looked like you could buy most things there, especially lighting fixtures and warm clothing! Although I don’t think you can buy a water purifier (as in Iceland you can still drink water right out of the river untreated).

Walking around Kashgar this afternoon, I took a photograph of a young boy eating a slice of watermelon. All the children yell, ‘hello’ to me!

I met a 19-year old woman working in a stationery store. She spoke English to me! I’m going to get her to the ‘English Corner.’ Her name is ‘Ryhangul.’ Different name right? Uyghur names are definitely different than any I’ve come across before. I bought a glue stick and a pen there, both for a total of 6 Yuan or .80 cents.

Today I offered Shou Shu (the Chinese man who runs the Internet Café in the Xinibagh Hotel) a deal… Take everything (all the furniture) out of his apartment, clean it and I’d pay him 600 Yuan / $ 80U.S. per month (he’d wanted only 500) - Note: this for a 70-meter, five-room apartment. What would that cost in the U.S. He said, ‘Why?’ People can’t believe it when you want to be fair! If he does all this, and I get hot water, I’m duty bound to rent the place. But, it’s better than a hotel!

The Seman Hotel… Ugh! No hot water for bathing, Karaoke all night long keeping me up! Incompetent women on the floors. They can’t even put the cork in the thermos tight. They don’t clean my room, you have to ask. ‘No good hotel!’ I’m going to say when I depart! ‘No good hotel!’

Then there’s the unexpected! This morning I discovered one of the workmen in the basement, where I keep Ms. Fiets, had put his hands (covered with plaster) all over her—now I have white smudges on the bags, the pump, my helmet! Terribly annoying as I can’t explain why this is unacceptable. They’d laugh, these ‘children!’ I guess I should feel sorry for them.

Asians want to share, touch and feel, ride your bicycle and even fuck your wife (I’m sure). And they can’t understand the idea of ‘personal space,’ as they have none!

So, I’m going to have to be more careful about Ms. Fiets, protecting her from such nonsense. The offender (covered in plaster dust), with his son, wanted a drink out of my large juice bottle I keep on the bicycle. I gave him the entire bottle, hoping I’d make a friend. That’s all you can do. If you get too snotty with them, they retaliate. You’re dealing with Neanderthal mentality.

Gosh, what a hard lesson Asia is… So, different than the West, at least how they think. But, in many other ways, it’s exactly like—the material level!

We are coming together! Everything, everybody, everywhere! We are coming together!

There’s so many good things here too! The adventure of discovery for me! I just got bored in the U.S. With me familiarity breeds contempt, and I couldn’t stand seeing, hearing, experiencing the same things every day in the same way. Now, to some people, this is Nirvana, but not to me. I’m too curious about what’s on the other side of the hill, the mountains. What does that taste like? I need new aromas, to see the light in different countries, hear the birds of different places, watch them fly in a different sky! Basically learn about the world we live in, not just that familiar patch of ground.

But, the earth, the soil, the plants, rocks are pretty much the same every where, maybe slightly different, but basically the same. The brown, desolate mountains of Xinjiang, could be transplanted to Big Bend , Texas ( U.S.A. ), and no one would recognize any difference. Vice versa. Maybe the wild life would be different, but I’m sure one species could survive in either place. I know the camels of Xinjiang could survive in the Big Bend National Park. The wild cats of the mountains there in BBNP, in the mountains here in Xinjiang Province.

Although, they’d have to be protected here, like they are there in the U.S. (and other more enlightened countries). This is an example of consciousness (Jim)… There’s more consciousness in the U.S. about preserving animal species than here. Just like there’s more in the U.S. about personal safety and food quality.

Here in China capitalism is still to new, with a ‘gold rush’ mentality (like in the U.S. in the 19th century). This doesn’t have to do with intelligence, as they’re just as intelligent here as anywhere, it has to do with consciousness (Jim). This a ‘state of knowing,’ or awareness, growth, evolution, mental development (not physical). China is just as physically developed as the U.S., but they’re behind in terms of mental development. Material wealth, however, should bring that in time… The realization, that it’s not all that great, that there are other things, like preserving the Panda bears, rather than cutting down the forests they live in, that’s more important.

When we preserve a species, we are preserving ourselves!

Man is basically consuming the earth, and himself with it! If he ever wakes up to this fact, there may be hope that he will stop in time. Otherwise, we are simply doomed as a species.

But, I always ask this question… When the last homo sapien succumbs, will we have been here at all…? Think about this, before you say yes! Doesn’t it take human consciousness to perceive…? The rocks and animals that might survive… They don’t care if we were ‘here’ or not, and probably, if they could think about such, be glad that we’re ‘gone!’

Time, as subject, the concept of ‘time’ (I assume they mean ‘clock time?’… In the next issue of Ovi Ezine (out of Helsinki) is about ‘time.’

Thus, about ‘time’…

An interesting situation here in Xinjiang Province , China . There is the official Beijing Time all of China is set to, but out here the locals (most Uyghur and Kazak) go by what they call ‘Xinjiang Time,’ two hours early. And actually this makes more simple sense, as it’s closer to the actuality of the sunlight.

China, from east to west, is very much like the U.S., some 4,000+ kilometers from the Pacific Ocean to the western border of Xinjiang (Krygyzstan).

In the U.S., which has a similar distance from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans, has four ‘time zones,’ the time decreasing by one hour, roughly every 1,000 kilometers going west (as the sun travels—actually as the earth rotates)! There’s Eastern Standard Time, Central Standard Time, Mountain Standard Time (Colorado where I’m from), and Pacific Standard time, four hours difference from the ‘east coast’ to the ‘west coast’ (we call them). If it’s 10P.M. (2200 hours) at night in New York City, it’s 9 P.M. (2100 hours) in Chicago, and 8P.M. (2000 hours) in Denver, and 7P.M. (1900 hours) in Los Angeles. This better approximates having sunlight when needed: when children wait for buses in the morning, to when dad returns home at night.

The U.S. also adjusts to the seasons, and in the summer when the angle of the earth to sun is less, we ‘Fall back one hour, and Spring forward the same.’ Of course, some people don’t like this idea. I tell them… Put your watch on whatever time you like, I do!

Albert was right… It’s ‘relative!’ Clock time was ‘invented’ by man to synchronize (coordinate activity), making it more ‘efficient.’ I think the Swiss or English can be blamed for this, and most likely the military had something to do with it! If you’re going to ‘attack,’ you want everyone at the right place at the right time!

Here in China, the entire country is on Beijing time. That would be O.K., or better if Beijing was located in the center of the country, but it’s not. It’s located in the far northeastern part of the country. Thus, making for an interesting situation in Xinjiang Province some 4,000 kilometers west of Beijing . The sunlight versus clock time…

Here in Kashgar, in November, it doesn’t get light on Beijing time until 0900 (9.A.M.), and it stays light until 2000 hours (8P.M.). Somehow this doesn’t feel right to the locals, who have created what is popularly called ‘local’ or ‘Xinjiang’ time. This some two hours earlier than Beijing time. This more approximates nature (as most of them are farmers).

But, in the cities this creates an interesting situation when trying to meet someone… Thus, we always ask, or state which ‘time’ we’re referring to. If we say 3 P.M. (1500 hours) we always state ‘Xinjiang,’ or ‘Beijing.’ And if unsaid, we always ask, ‘Is this Beijing or Xinjiang time?’ Of course, all official and government offices (banks) are on Beijing time. So, you’re constantly having to figure out when to depart to get to the bank when it’s open.

I set my watch on local or ‘Xinjiang Time.’ Thus, I add two hours when figuring when to catch the train to Uremqi.

This would be a perfect situation to have the Omega wrist watch I owned in the Sixties. It had two ‘hour’ hands. I could set one to Beijing Time, and one to ‘Xinjiang Time,’ and then I’d always be ‘on time!’ Well, maybe… I have an idea to produce watches with two ‘hour’ hands in Xinjiang. We’ll call it the ‘Xinjiang Watch!’

One final note on ‘time.’ I’m a person that’s rarely late to a meeting, and always early catching public transportation. How can this be…? Well, for one thing I grew up with the discipline of ‘live’ television, and the military. Two situations where you’re simply not late, or big trouble.

I’ll never forget my boss (‘Doc. Hamilton) at KVOA/4 (Tucson, Arizona), my first job in television back in 1958. When I started directing the ‘new strip,’ he told me this, and I’ve never forgotten it, He said, ‘The News goes on at 5:00:00! That’s not 5:00:20, or 4:59:10, it’s 5:00:00! Understand?’

Thus recently when I taught over 400 acting classes at John Robert Powers (U.S.), I was never late once in four years! How can this be? My students would drag in, mostly late, and always with an excuse that usually had to do with the ‘traffic,’ parents, or boy/girl friends. I use to pose this question… ‘How can I always be on time riding a bicycle, when you’re late driving an automobile?’ More excuses.

It’s simple, and I can teach you how to always (or mostly, sometimes I’m a little late) be on time: First of all, set your watch ten to fifteen minutes ahead of the ‘official’ time. Of course, you know this, but after a while you forget and go by your wrist watch (fooling yourself). Additionally, when figuring how long it will take to travel some where, or to accomplish a task… Always double the time you first estimate. You’ll be surprised how often you show up on time (now), or are a little early. It’s easy! As ‘time,’ really… It’s relative!

Albert also said this, ‘That imagination is more important than knowledge!’

F.A. Hutchison (who’s got to go, or be late meeting someone!)

On Xinjiang time

10 November 2005 The Daily Dosage


[1] This in America, not one of my favorite holidays. This a day of gorging on fatty food, rather than being ‘thankful!’ The original idea great of course, celebrating survival because of the bounty of the earth and loving kindness friends (the indigenous people). The newcomers called ‘pilgrims,’ survived because the indigenous people were kind enough to help them (showed them how to plant corn, for one thing). So, what did ‘we’ (I include myself as my ancestors were apart of the newcomers.) do to show our thanks. We killed them! Now, we celebrate such with ‘Thanksgiving!’

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