商务旅行:让我最难忘的声音 / Business Travel: My Most Memorable Sound

20世纪70年代中期的广州街头 / Guangzhou Street Scene, mid-1970s

商务旅行:让我最难忘的声音

2008年,中央电视台一个纪录片的摄制组采访了我,让我谈谈一个外国人对中国改革开放三十年的看法。

他们问我的问题之一是:“您在中国生活了这么多年,最让您难忘的声音是什么?”

问题很有趣,对我来说,也很容易想到答案。

那是我初次到中国的第一天早晨。这是我期盼已久的旅行,因为我在美国已经学习了将近八年的中文。

我充满好奇和兴奋,但也有些担忧,因为这一年是1975年,中国仍处于政治动荡之中。

我花了将近一整天的时间从香港坐火车到广州,在东方宾馆安顿下来,宾馆对面就是广交会的展馆。和其他参展代表一起用过晚餐之后,我很早就睡了。

第二天清晨6点,客房窗外的大喇叭突然响起了震耳欲聋的“东方红”大合唱。

我从床上跳了起来,踉跄着跑到了窗前。这难道是政府提供的免费叫醒服务?

窗下的街道上,身穿蓝色和灰色服装的骑车人汇成了一条缓缓流动的河,其间偶尔会有一辆卡车,轿车更少见。

显然,虽然才早上6点,但我已经睡过了头。其他人都骑着自行车上路了。

“东方红”播放完毕,接下来是新闻节目,一位尖声女播音员在播送当日流行的政治语录和最高指示。

我专心地听着,明白了其中的主要意思。似乎被当时政治路线打倒的有三派:孔夫子、林彪、美帝国主义及其走狗。

嗯,我自认为还不算是一个帝国主义分子,但我猜,我也许够格当条走狗。

有一点可以肯定:我不用再费心安排剩下几天的叫醒服务了。 

Business Travel: My Most Memorable Sound

I was interviewed by a CCTV documentary crew in 2008 on a foreigner’s view of 30 years’s Opening and Reform.

One of the questions they asked was “What’s the most memorable sound you have heard during the years you’ve lived in China.”

Interesting question, and easy for me to think of the answer.

It was the first morning of my first trip to China. This was a long awaited journey for me, since I had studied Chinese in the U.S. for almost 8 years.

I was curious, excited, and somewhat apprehensive because the year was 1975 and China was still in the throes of political turmoil.

After the nearly full-day train journey from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, I settled into my room at the Dong Fang Hotel, right opposite the Canton Trade Fair complex. After dinner with other trade fair delegates, I slept fairly early.

At 6 am the next morning a deafeningly loud chorus of “The East is Red” began blaring from loudspeakers outside my hotel room window.

I leapt out of bed and staggered to the window. This was apparently a free wake-up call provided by the government.

The street below was a slow-flowing river of blue and gray-suited bicyclists, an occasional truck, and a very occasional automobile.

Apparently, even though it was just 6 a.m., I had overslept. Everyone else was already on a bicycle en route somewhere.

After “The East is Red”, the music part of the program was replaced by the news part, delivered by a shrill-voiced female announcer who delivered the prevailing political wisdom and direction for that day.

I listened intently and got the general gist. There seemed to be three parties on the losing end of the prevailing political line: Confucius, Lin Biao, and the American Imperialists together with their Running Dogs.

Hmmm. I didn’t think of myself as particularly imperialistic, but I supposed I might be qualified to be a running dog.

One thing for sure: I knew that I would not need to worry about arranging wake-up calls during the rest of that visit. 


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