“Caraway, green pepper, green onion, tender celery, hyacinth bean, eggplant, cucumber, wax gourd, I sells round eggplant, carrot, radish, Chinese toon sprout, Chinese chives.” The peddlings of Xuejiaomai by master Hou Baolin is still unforgettable to Jie Gai until today, every time he is in the mood, he sings it.
The young guy who is so affectionate about traditional Chinese culture is a Doctor of Mathematics from Cameroon of Africa.
He jokes that fun makes him keep on learning new things. But behind the fun, the effort his made is unimaginable. In terms of learning Chinese, he paid quite an effort.
Jie Gai and Ding Guangquan perform a crosstalk. [By courtesy of Jie Gai]
“I had had the knowledge of more than 10 foreign languages before I came to China, but I realized Chinese is a real foreign language after I started to learn it!” Intonation was the biggest trouble Jie Gai suffered from, “It never puts such importance on intonation in English, French, Russian and more others, though intonation does shift but the meaning does not. However, it is wrong to say shang diǎn instead of shang diàn for word of store. So I began to train myself from mā, má, mǎ, mà. I did this every day. ”
From pinyin to intonation, then to words and sentences, this African young man has a contest against the hardship of learning Chinese. He not only passed the B class of top level mandarin exam but also learned cross talk from Ding Guangquan. He masters Jingyun drum, Peking Opera, Kunqu Opera and many other local operas. “If you listen to Jingyun Drum attentively, you will find there are less than three kinds of musical instruments, voice takes most time of a play, with clear pronunciation and with fast and slow harmonious rhythms, it can’t be more perfect!”
In the eyes of Jie Gai, traditional Chinese operas are profound with abundant connotations, worth pondering and of strong human touch. In these terms, they are as same as classical music from the rest of the world. “The pace of modern life is too fast. Emotion is increasingly repressed, we need these things with profoundness to pull us back, and remain our humanity. ”
Jie Gai at CCTV Spring Festival Gala of Opera. He loves traditional Chinese culture. [By courtesy of Jie Gai]
Jie Gai is now very busy, often on a half-month long or month long business trip. Every time he comes back to Beijing, he always finds something new in the city. “Ten years ago, although there were only three subway lines, I thought it was too convenient, but now when l looks back at it, the city is no longer what it was!”
But he has another wish, “On my first arrival to Beijing, there were quite a lot of hutongs where old peddlings were heard. But now, traditional hutongs are dying. The survived are no longer what they were. I miss them a lot, sometimes I weep at the thought of the loss. ”
Jie Gai hopes this cosmopolis preserves as many as possible the elements of “Old Beijing” along with their human touch from the development.