The Reluctant Pundit and the Reincarnated Soul Boys

Nicholas Quirke was emerging from the relative sloth that had accompanied a few days of rain on 30 July 2021 with a new plan. He had discovered that China had launched a vaccine passport that was easy to get for a foreigner in country who had been vaccinated and that if he went immediately to the International Travel Health Centre he would have it before he had to leave on the sixth. If he were to return at some point in the future having this record of his vaccinations in a Chinese ‘passport’ form could help ease his next visa application. It was going to require a trip to the North of Beijing and he found a museum located nearby where he could go once he had dispensed with the necessary paper work. It would remain a disappointment that though he had spent time on the Tibetan plateau, flirted with borders and even found himself in a town as taboo as Tibet was to foreigners at that time, he had not been able to visit the Autonomous prefecture. Now, although it was opening up again he had run out of time and the closest he would get to understanding a little more of the controversial place was by visiting the Museum celebrating the rich culture that had been part of China’s borders for the past 70 years. But first brace the rain, subway to Andingmen and cycle to the Health Centre. He had been warned that it could be a long wait and as always he was prepared with iPad and technology to see him through. He encountered a few problems at the reception when he arrived as he had been in Shenyang during the past fortnight where as case from the latest Covid outbreak in China, all stemming from the airport at Nanjing, had been. Literally 24 hours after he had visited the Muckden palace it’s had been reported that a carrier had been in the same location. Fortunately due to the equivalent of the ‘track and trace’ app he was clear of being barred but it was close and he hoped that he wouldn’t have to endure any more issues with the proximity to the sufferer. The wait turned out to be less than he had expected particularly as when he arrived there were over 80 people ahead of him in the queue. When he was called the process was really swift. He was approved, sent to another floor where he handed over his paperwork and was given a slip with time and date to return to collect his passport. he then set off to cycle to the Tibetan Culture Museum. Though it was a long cycle it was a very straight road and due to the rain earlier in the day it was still relatively cool. The Museum was very quiet when he arrived but he was given a very positive welcome and as soon he entered the first exhibition hall on the 70th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet he was pounced on by China Central TV to record an interview. There were many things he could speak with authority about and happily be a pundit for but Tibet was not one of them and he felt himself treading on eggshells with his response to their questions and he hoped he hadn’t said anything too inflammatory. In a remarkable coincidence it seemed that Jieyu was at the museum too and had also been interviewed. Their paths didn’t cross and it was only afterwards that he discovered the proximity of his friend. He enjoyed the exhibition though he was aware that it was a biased view but it was good to see it from another perspective and what was interesting was the overwhelming evidence of true millions that had been lifted out of poverty and how the region and its culture was prospering. His favoured part of the museum was dedicated to the Living Buddha Reincarnation Practice that was established during the Ming Dynasty in though in 1288 during the Yuan Dynasty the reincarnation of Karmabahi through Zhonggongdorje was the first recorded soul transfer. It became a matter of political confirmation in the Qing Dynasty and the practise, of recognising ‘soul boys’ has continued into contemporary China. The current, 14th Dalai Lama himself is a reincarnation of a former llama. He left the museum feeling he knew a little more about Tibet though it was a decidedly one sided view. He had not realised how close he was to the Olympic Park and though he considered making the most of the sunshine that had emerged he decided instead to have a tea in a nearby cafe and do some work. He had done a lot of cycling by the time he got home and was ready for a night in front of a movie and though there was a sense of Deja vu as he watched the ‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’, maybe because of countless similar movies and similar performances from its leads, it didn’t stop him from enjoying the silly romp. He laughed a lot but his overall impression was that it’s probably a mediocre example of the comedy hitman genre. The days activity left him ready for a deep and satisfying sleep and he was refreshed when he woke on 31 July 2021 feeling that his purpose for the day was to resolve some of the admin issues that were causing him to feel a little stressed. What actually happened after a now traditional breakfast at the weekend of Jian bing was using up the ingredients in the cupboard and making a vegan. Cheesecake, repacking his suitcase, dismantling another cupboard being replaced by an easel style stand for the television. They enjoyed lunch from Godly skipped supper and watched ‘Jungle Cruise’ a Disney adventure yarn that felt wrong. Personality casting in a story riddled with anachronisms that irritated rather than amused and entertained him and his verdict was typical saccharine Disney fare. The day passed quickly and while he could he enjoyed the luxury of a chair massage and rounded off the busy but uneventful day with a deep sleep.

1 Comment

  1. Heir Hunters springs to mind after reading about your interview! 😂 I’m sure you will be sad to leave China but I cannot wait to see you! xxx

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