Thank you, Mr. Zhang!

Jiajia 2006

A(n) Story / Fable / Truth / Level / Poem / Love-letter / Exposé / Thought / Encouragement / Explanation / Hope / Future? / Revealing / Life / Release / Screenplay? / Reminder / Decision / Biography? / 34341 characters long text / Analysis by Jakob Montrasio

I would have never found the love of my life if Mr. Zhang wouldn’t have come to Germany, to see a used second-hand machine from my father’s company together with our chinese customer Mr. Li, who Mr. Zhang traveled with as his translator, and wouldn’t have invited me to come to Shanghai for a visit of our office.

Heidelberg.

So Mr. Zhang and Mr. Li showed up in my childhood hometown Heidelberg to check out that one machine. In the end, Mr. Li didn’t buy it, but that’s not really important. Mr. Li invited my father and his family for dinner – there I finally got to know them much better. As always, alcohol did it’s part – beer after beer went to my stomach, as time went by even faster and faster, as the two chinese men started playing the “gambej” game with me.

FireFox 1.0 Release Party

After dinner we went to another place, a typical german bar with beer, music and lots of people. Mr. Zhang, heavily drunk and with a crab-red face, started to tell me about China and ended up inviting me to Shanghai. I should really come to vitit the representative office and to see the big city, he said. My father overheard the whole talk and encouraged me to go. At that time, I actually wanted to use toilet because some drinks started to push, but before I went for a relaxing visit to that place, I agreed: “Okay, I’ll come in November or something, until January, check out how you celebrate new year’s eve there in China, okay?”

¡BREAK!

I’ve got to explain: In 2000, I studied the japanese language for a year at a school. Back then, I was crazily in love with japanese Comics, or Manga and Anime, japanese Cartoons. I wanted to get to know the japanese culture even better to understand everything on a different level. Back then, my heroes were “Son Goku” and “Akira”, later to be followed by Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces of anime. After one year studying japanese, I had the chance to go to Kumamoto for a student exchange – luckily my father allowed me to go and financed this trip.

Now, two weeks in Japan are a short, short time, but it was enough to tighten me to asian culture. I was so impressed with everything there! The family which took me in was incredibly nice, but they seemed a bit closed and cool at the same time. They never talked about their emotions or feelings, it seemed a bit prude to me. But this is another culture, so what the heck. The food was incredible, everyone knows the pleasures of sushi, but stuff like Natto… Boy, there were some weird encounters, let me tell you. And the Pachinko game places! It’s like a heaven for video-game players. One game-box has a more insane game then the other one.

But there’s a catch: Japan is expensive. Extremely. Like London. And worse. In return they have a good way of living, high standards, but to live there as a European? Seems almost impossible without a really high salary. Nevertheless the travel to Japan was beautiful, all the sight seeing spots were worth it alone.

The cultural shock you always read about was big, but in a positive way, not negative. Only the raw horse meat was a bit hard to chew. But that aside: My first trip to asia was eye-opening and by the time I got into the airplane back to Germany I knew, that this was not going to be my last trip to this fascinating continent. Thanks to Shenmue from Sega I went back to asia quite often without leaving Europe at all, by the way. Best game ever?

Back to the Chinese.

i ate the teenage mutant ninja turtles.

Chinese food is great. Chinese people are nice, not so cold, more open and… funnier than the Japanese. Later on I’d figure out that the Chinese are the Italians of Asia. The economy is growing rapidly. My parents loved Shanghai in one of their trips. Asian kung-fu women are hot. Many thoughts were rushing through my head, not all of them deep thoughts, but that didn’t matter, as I said, I had been drinking heavily with our chinese guests.

These are not all of the reasons why I agreed to visit Shanghai, but some of them. This sentence, this agreement that I spoke out, would later change my life, my work, my friends – everything! I am sorry, this part reads like a Michael Bay movie, but it’s fun writing it like that. And it’s true. Like Armageddon. I am the asteroid, and Bruce Willis is China. No, the other way around. Or am I Ben Affleck? How did the movie end again?

Unimportant.

Arriving in my new life.

I am a man of my words, so my feet hit the chinese ground for the first time in the beginning of November 2005. My clothes would’ve been absolutely perfect if the airplane would’ve crashed in the siberian ice-desert, but for Shanghai I was kinda overdressed. It was almost warm enough to wear a T-Shirt – in the beginning of November! Unbelievable, what a great climate.

But already at the passport-control station of the Pudong airport I had the chance to meet the chinese overpopulation: While you will find one pissed off officer sitting in a small booth next to another one in Frankfurt’s airport, who looks for a couple of seconds at your passport and then waves you through, here are all booth stuffed with three or four very young officers, who really take their time checking you out. They look at your passport image, look back at you, look at the image again, … They don’t give a shit that you just spend 12 hours in a small airplane in a tiny seat like a chicken, they don’t care that you waited 37 minutes to be checked out by them, they will take their time, which they seem to have a lot off, and smile and kid around. Who ever had a seat in one of the last rows of a Boeing 747-400 knows exactly what I’m talking about. It doesn’t matter if 10 or 20 booths are opened, you will spend some quality time at the passport control. Horror. You’ll feel even worse for Viktor Navorski in The Terminal.

Since the two people who were going to pick me up misunderstood my arrival time by one hour, this time waste was not really important. But this passport control story is an good example for cheap labour: These control-officers there earn about 500 Dollar a month! That’s like a quarter or less from Europe or America, I guess. Some more prices? A Menu at McDonalds costs between 2 and 3 dollars, a coffee about 3 dollars, a six-pack Budweiser 4 dollars… Sure, you can go into some hip place and pay the five dollars for a Heineken, but if you stay away from these places, life is pretty cheap.

The first impression of Shanghai.

Skyscraper

Back to the airport. The guys showed up finally, I got my luggage, and we drove to Shanghai in a taxi. Over a bridge you enter after about 30 minutes drive the city, and the view of the skyscrapers was even more bombastic then the death-star explosion in Episode 4. Extremely overwhelmed by the size, the hectic and the infinity amount of people I escaped into the room where I would stay the next months. I needed a short rest. I was in Shanghai! I couldn’t believe it. Was I dreaming? Was I Jim Carrey in my own Truman Show?

No, I wasn’t. After the rest I started installing my PowerBook in the office – I lived in this representative office together with the boss. We had two sleeping rooms, the office, two bathrooms and a very small kitchen. Then I started a small tour with Mr. Zhang, I wanted to buy a cellphone, just in case. While walking to the electronic store, I tried not to panic. Too many people. Too many cars. Too many sounds. So much, it was impossible to digest all at once. It was like having a first joint again, you try to fight it, you try not to get wasted too much. But that doesn’t help, just stay calm, breath, and enjoy. I felt like Milla Jovovich at a skyscraper-wall in The Fifth Element, really.

Me, myself & Shanghai

Four years I lived in Frankfurt, thinking ‘this is a big city’, but Frankfurt is a damn joke against Shanghai. Maybe the outer districts are calm like Frankfurt, but in the center, man, that’s just insane there. People everywhere! Cars everywhere! Hectic everywhere! You ask yourself ‘what are all these people doing here’? I guess you can’t find a answer to that.

Milanese market

Twenty minutes after arriving at the electronic store, I was the proud owner of a Mitsubishi cellphone. That I would keep it only for three months before giving it to my wife (at that time, girlfriend), I for sure didn’t know at that time.However, I choose that cellphone because it looked neat, and I wanted to take something back to Germany that I would not be able to buy there. If somebody would’ve told me at that time that this cellphone would never even connect into a german cellphone-net, I probably would’ve had a weird look on my face. But that’s the way it went…

¡BREAK!

Now is the time to tell you something about Stefano. I changed the name of this dude since I don’t want to make him angry. Stefano is a old school-friend of my father, they know each other for centuries. When he moved to China, he offered my father to build up a representative office for my fathers company. That was in the middle of 2004, and the office was opened officially in October 2004. Stefano himself had at that time no wife, no girlfriend… I guess he has some kind of relationship-phobia, how can you be all lonely in your mid-50’s?

Before leaving for China, my father told me about his tendency towards, well, prostitutes, and that I should ‘look out’. Now don’t get me wrong, he is really nice dude, friendly and honest, as long as you know him well. Anyway, that made me really cautious. With people he didn’t know well he was not that nice, if he didn’t get, what he wanted – in my opinion, he was unable to adapt himself to the chinese culture and people. One evening I will never forget… We went to have a drink somewhere near our office. Eventually, he met a girl, and started bargaining with her like hell over her price! She wanted 50 dollars, he didn’t want to give her anymore then 20. Unbelievable, this guy… It also happened more then a few times that I would receive a message from him, telling me not to come back to the office before midnight, as he was having company.

He was a nice old dude, he had a strong opinion about everything, and he always treated me good, he was quite helpful all the time. Since he could speak very little english and almost no chinese at all, I became more and more a translator for him.

First contact.

So when Stefano asked me during my first evening in Shanghai if he should call a female friend of his who could show me the city, I was skeptical. On one side I didn’t want to walk through Shanghai together with some girl whose only mission was to get me in her bed at night to take care of my hard earned money, but on the other side, I didn’t come to Shanghai to not get to know it. In the end, I would decide if I end up in bed with a prostitute or not – so I gave him my okay. Sure, I would’ve preferred it if he had shown me around, but he made it quite clear that he didn’t want to, and not speaking chinese, this seemed like my only choice at that moment.

We met his female friend the next evening outside of a bar. It was still warm, and we had a table outside the Park 97 in the Fuxing park. I ordered a Tsingtao beer – here’s a hint: Alcohol helps quite well fighting a bad jet-lag. Ten minutes late, she arrived, introduced herself and sat at the table with us.

I repeat: I thought this was one of Stefano’s women, so I acted a bit stupid, I didn’t want to make a nice expression, I was kind of scared that she would start to flirt with me, and I must be one of the most shy people on earth when it comes to women. But somehow, already there, she didn’t make a ‘cheap’ impression on me, she seemed more frightened and closed than I thought. Her english was weird too, not social english, more like business english.

We talked for a couple of minutes, but then a friend of Stefon’s friend arrived, and she spend most of her time talking to her instead of us. By the time we finished the evening and walked back to the office, I realized that I didn’t asked for her cellphone number and had no chance to contact her – so Stefano gave me her number and told me to send her a SMS.

Personally, I hate to receive messages or worse, calls from people I don’t know that got my number from some ‘friend’. It always ends up in some crap help-cry or stuff like that. And I’m not the kind of type who says ‘no’ to everything, bad for me!

But once again, there was no other choice, so I wrote in the most friendly way possible a SMS asking her, if she would have the time to show me around Shanghai. And that it would be no problem at all if she didn’t want to. Like I said, we didn’t really know each other, and I didn’t want to have to pursue her showing me around. In the worst case, I would’ve explored the city myself – but it’s much more comfortable with company, isn’t it?

Two days I waited for a respons to my SMS, then finally I got one. She told me that she had two night shifts at work, she worked at the front desk of a hotel, and that tomorrow she would have the time to take me on a tour. Sure! So we met on a saturday evening. She wanted to bring a friend of her (as security?), but that didn’t happen…

The First Date.

Fireworks at the Shanghai bund

To begin the tour with the bund would be a good idea, she said, so we grabbed a taxi and drove to this beautiful place in Shanghai, where modern architecture like the Oriental Pearl Tower meets history, like the old french buildings from the beginning of the 20th century, divided only by the Huangpu river. Just minutes after arriving there, out of the blue, a huge firework started. Why? We still don’t know, it was a ordinary day with no special event. We asked around, nobody seemed to know a good reason for it. It was an astonishing view, Pudong with fireworks, and looking back, this firework initiated the relationship between my wife and me – first as friends, later to be serious.

We decided to walk back home from the bund, it was not that far, and to eat some snack on the way. While strolling through the streets, I told her about my life in Germany, she told me about her life in China. We exchanged our different experiences of life, you might say. We understood each other very well and learned more and more about each others life, culture and surroundings. I was doubting more and more that she was some cheap girl as our conversation was very deep and meaningful to the both of us. Days later I would find out what she was thinking about me at that time…

Our first ‘date’ came to end, and she left me with the sentence ‘you are completely different than on that evening where we met in front of the bar’. What impression did I make there? Was it that horrible? Must’ve been the jet-lag, haha. In the following days, we would meet almost every evening – she showed me the best sights of the city, in return I invited her always to dinner. Then, one evening, she finally opened up and told me about her past with Stefano. What a idiot I was, I misinterpreted everything about her. And finally I understood, why she was so cold and closed at the beginning.

¡BREAK!

After my parents visited the new Shanghai office for the first time in the beginning of 2005, they gave Stefano a instruction for his future in the company: He would have to learn chinese. Stefano spoke very bad english and almost no chinese at all. How he managed to get the office running and how he communicated with the employees is like a riddle to me up until today.

The solution.

She taught him chinese. That’s it.

But why was she so cold, so defensive to me at first? She explained: After a couple of weeks teaching Stefano chinese, he ‘tried’ to get her in his bed. And he tried in such a direct and aggressive kind of way, that she ran out of the office crying and in panic. Since that incident they had no more contact, and she wasn’t even sure to meet him that night when we first met outside that bar. Luckily she met us! In that moment I realized her previous behavior, I realized, why she wanted to bring a friend for our first date, everything – she was afraid! Of course she assumed that I was crazy like him.

In one sentence: At the beginning, I mistook her for a prostitute, and she mistook me for a aggressive sex-foreigner like Stefano or something like that, isn’t that romantic, hahaha?

But maybe it was exactly this misinterpretation, which got us nearer to each other. Of course I explained her my own misinterpretation of her, and how my father warned me about Stefano and his easy women. We were laughing our asses off about each other! This whole mess showed us how crass you can judge someone completely wrong, and that you should never judge on first sight. But it also allowed us to communicate on a whole different level, all of a sudden we felt much closer to each other, through this misunderstanding and talking the matter fully out we were even more fascinated about each other.

Teehaus

The two or three times we met a week went to be four and five and finally seven. Almost every night we strolled through the wet, cold and more and more empty streets of Shanghai. All these fascinating colors, sounds and smells… We couldn’t get enough of it. We also went on a three day trip during a weekend to the cities of Ningbo and Hangzhou, were we got even closer to each other. What a beautiful time, butterflies in our stomachs. But we were not yet together at that time, as we were both too shy to make a first step. In the beginning of december I encouraged her to quit her shitty job at the hotel, as the changing day- and nightshifts were messing with her health and mind. I knew she wouldn’t have enough money to survive without a job, so I offered her a job as a chinese teacher for me, two ours per day. I didn’t do this to sacrifice myself for her, I did this to ensure our daily meetings – I’m not a holy or religious guy or something, haha!

Another couple of days later a friend from Germany visited me, thanks to him I became finally clear about my feelings for Jiajia. How did it happen? It was unbelievably cold in Shanghai, and since my friend already knew Shanghai, we decided to have a trip to a much warmer place: Hainan island. Said, done. So before we knew it we sat in a small airplane heading to the south of Vietnam, under which this chinese island is located. You can call it the chinese Hawaii if you’d like.

Hainan 2005

The three days we spend there were visually exciting, we had good weather there, all the time above 65 Fahrenheit – in december! But honestly, I just wanted one thing: Get back to Jiajia. I told my friend a lot about her when he arrived, I introduced them and let him check her sort of out for me, but I never asked him if he took me to this island to get me away from her for some time. Maybe it was coincidence, maybe good planing. I don’t need to know. At any rate, whatever the reason: Thank you for the trip, and pardon my talking about Jiajia all the time.

Every day I phoned empty a 10 euro card of cell phone credit with her. On the second evening, finally, I asked her kind of a trick question: ‘Can I got to a bar?’ – I don’t know why I asked this, I hadn’t planned it, it was impulsive out of nowhere – ‘No, there are too many easy girls’ was her answer. Finally, finally, finally! Like a detonating bomb everything got clear: I just allowed her to make a decision for me that was more then private, I asked her a question that you would only ask somebody you’re together with. And instead of saying ‘do what you want’, she said ‘no’, showing me that she wants to make these kind of decisions. Now I finally had the courage for the next step.

The confession.

On friday evening, we were back in Shanghai, our plane touched down at nine. My friend went to his hotel, I had a different mission. Half past ten I stood in front of Jiajia’s apartment and picked her up for a coffee. Then I took her back home, and pushed her to take me in so that I could show her the images that I took in Hainan… What a stupid reason, hahaha! After some pushing, she finally allowed me to just that.

After the picture slideshow I was so nervous, I just wanted to go home. I felt like sitting in a roller-coaster to hell. Like I said, I must be the most shy person on earth. But something kept me from giving up without trying, some magic force, call it love, and so I took the energy that was left in me and stammered out a confession of my love, telling her how much I care about her and how much she means to me and so on.

She strengthened my confession with her own words, and when I finally left her apartment at five in the morning after a long, long talk, we were a couple. Cloud seven! What a feeling! From there on, every new day seemed like the most beautiful day in my life. Love is the most important thing, I hope everyone gets his chance to realize that in his life. The next day I realized I’d have to change my future plans and plan them new around this angel. So I did that.

My tidings of gloom, that I decided to move to Shanghai for good, were accepted by family and friends quite well, there were some small misunderstandings that were unnecessary, but that happens, I guess. Luckily my friends are happy for me when I found my happiness, even if that happiness is thousands of miles away from home.

The last bit was easy: I got a job at my fathers office, went back for a month to Germany to pick up the most important stuff, my mom supported me wholeheartedly all the time anyway – and that’s it!

But before I flew back to Germany in the beginning of February, I had to fulfill one more big quest.

Jiajia’s family in Xi’An.

Xi'An.

As soon as the chinese new year started, we headed to Xi’An, Jiajia’s hometown, to meet her family. Another unforeseeable event came towards us. As Jiajia’s family is very conservative, they care very much about old chinese rules and laws of tradition. So we decided that it would be best if I only met her parents for now, and the rest later, when we were serious about marrying. We were not talking about marriage at that point of our relationship, we were just together were weeks!

Especially her grandparents should not know about me, as a previous boyfriend of Jiajia left her and made them quite angry. But, d’oh, the relatives we visited a month before in Ningbo told the grandparents in Xi’an about me, about the foreigner who was traveling around with their granddaughter. So Jiajia got a call from his grandfather just days before we flew to Xi’An, he was furious, but Jiajia managed to calm him down – and so we decided that I would meet the whole family already after all! Can you even imagine the pressure that I felt in right that moment? But I thought that it’s worth it, and we went to face it together anyway.

Like I said, at this time, we were not even thinking about marriage, but we were both quite serious with our relationship – in my opinion, you don’t even need to start a relationship if you’re not serious! For sure different people think different about that, but that’s the way I am. Sure, you don’t know a person after two months like after two years, but sometimes you have to follow your stomach, as we say. My past kind of doesn’t allow me to play around with feelings, I had my fair share of psychological problems as a child, and Jiajia’s previous encounter with that boyfriend who left her also taught her this. Picture perfect constellation?!

¡BREAK!

China has quite some rules for people who want to get married, no matter if they are both chinese or chinese and foreigner. At least conservative families have rules there. The husband needs to buy a home for the future, where ‘home’ means apartment, and where ‘buying’ means owning it by law for 70 years right now. The parents of both husband and wife need to meet at least one time before marriage. And some minor things, like the husband’s parents need to pay the wedding, not like in Europe the wife’s parents, usually you marry in the wife’s hometown. Fortunately all these rules can be bent quite a lot, given you have the right reasons. I am only (almost) 25, Jiajia 24. We don’t want any children in the next couple of years, we want to focus on our careers – so why buy an apartment? Why get stuck to one place? Why cripple your freedom for… nothing? For paying insane amount of interest to the bank? No, thank you, sir. Accepted! That stuff is out of the way for now.

The parents understood that immediately and gave eventually up suggesting us to buy one. They even accepted that we live together, without being married – this way we save money from one apartment and we live much more safe. All the horror stories I read on the net when I first started researching about this matter seem to be exaggerated. For sure Jiajia’s parents would prefer if we would buy an apartment and if we would live separately, but in the end, good explanation solves everything. It’s unnecessary to tell some crap, just tell about your own culture and how things are handled in your country. They will understand.

Rules here, laws there, Traditions… If something makes no sense, you speak it out and done.

I really should write some book in the future titled ‘How to marry a chinese woman’ or ‘Marriage in China’ or something like that, with all the crazy experience I gained.

The interrogation.

Family Lunch

The meeting with the aunts and uncles became a small interrogation. I was like the foreign devil, the criminal, and they were the chinese police. I stayed as calm as I could and even joked about the whole thing being like an interrogation, what seemed to amuse them quite a lot. At first I was hugely nervous, but as time went by, I got calmer and calmer. They asked about me, my family, my job, my past, and, of course, how serious I was with Jiajia. If I would move to China for Jiajia, if I would do this and that… I just replied: ‘Do you think I would sit here, listen to your questions and answer them honestly if all this wouldn’t mean something to me? Would I have the courage to show up here if I was playing around?’

A couple of glasses of liquor later I realized, I was accepted into the family. My glass was never empty, my mouth never without a cigarette, my plate never without food. I had passed their exam, and I was getting really drunk! And happy, my god, what a release, what a joy! Jiajia was incredibly happy as well. The whole family had accepted us and cared about us a lot.

I answered every of their many questions honestly, I didn’t lie once, I never exaggerated. I think they realized that, and they worshipped that. In China it is quite common to exaggerate the hell out of everything, how many times have I met ‘one of the richest people of China’, so when you actually meet someone who seems to be a true, honest person, you can call yourself happy.

¡BREAK!

Now a incredibly important hint for people, who want their relationship to be steady and serious:

Never, ever lie. Never ever!

When you can trust each other fully, you’ve got it. You can mess up as bad as you can, but if you’re honest, serious and true to each other, you will always get out of it together. You lie, the partner finds out – gone is the trust. That is the worst kind of damage you can inflict onto each other. I learned that quite fast. Just tell the truth, always. If you love each other, you will accept it, or at least deal with it, but to loose the love from someone because of trust is completely stupid and unnecessary. Never ever lie.

The chinese new year.

Xi'An.

During the new year week in Xi’An, we did not only go out to see all the sightseeing in and around Xi’An – the Terra-cotta warriors, the city wall, the bell tower – we also spend a lot of quality time with the family, to get to know each other more and more. The grandfather is quite interesting: He invited everyone to dinner at his place, I sat opposite of him. At some point he started to offer me blue eggs, some weird chinese food, they seemed like they were going moldy, I kid you not! Just looking at them and smelling them made my stomach go amok, so I told Jiajia to translate for me ‘I don’t like eggs that much, thank you’. Bad mistake! All of a sudden he was like a angry little boy, he was offended by my decision not at least to try them! So he got up, went to the freezer, took out the packaging and showed me that they were within the time range of being fresh. Jesus! I gave up, and ate one. Yes, it tasted as it looked, but in no time he was calm and happy again. No pain, no gain!

After the new year week in Xi’An, we flew back to Shanghai, spend five more days there, then I needed to go back to Germany – my visa time was running out and I needed to take care of some stuff for the ‘big move’. We spend that last days in Shanghai actually just lying around watching one movie after another, we were exhausted from the Xi’An trip, the endless flood of questions and talking there, and so we took a vacation from that vacation. Mentally, we were preparing ourselves for the one month long split, but thanks to Skype and phone the month there passed by in no time.

So, these they were, the first three months of my new life, my new love, my new China. Full with love, luck, misunderstandings, just about everything you need for a good drama. The time in which this took place was between November 2005 and February 2006.

Now we have March 2007, in the meantime we got married, in June we will have our wedding ceremony in Xi’An… So many new things to write about, so little time. Guess I have to tell you all the new experiences at a later time. Are they interesting at all? Hope someone reads this at all, haha…

Life is a game.

The first level is the childhood. The second one the school time. If you beat the end-boss, you can go to high-school, if not, to some other school. Level three follows, the harder school time. The end-boss here are the final exams. That’s almost the same with level four, no matter if you study or do an apprenticeship. Level five is the longest, hardest level: work, work work. Somehow, I cheated and am now in a special level between 5 and 6, with new designs, new background music and new enemies.

Level six will come later, family. There are some traps and new enemies, children. The last level will be eight, the end-boss is death, and nobody ever went more far than that level.

I’m a nerd, a geek, damn it, I have to keep my reputation, so some weird kind of comparison had to be here, alright? I like it. Better than ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ for sure. Old people love to talk about their life-experience, and now I realize what they are talking about. I think I learned more then ever before since I moved to China!

Important realizations.

Never ever lie. Did I mention that before?

Smile. Stay friendly. When you’re in a different country, it’s natural to encounter problems. Don’t let them drive you crazy or make you angry, stay calm and focused and find a comfortable way to solve the problem. Stay cool, think positive. Learn from mistakes you make. You will find more help with a smile then with a pissed off face. Sounds like fortune cookie telling, but has more truth than you think.

Never give up! There’s always a way to solve a problem or an argument, sometimes hidden. So think out of the box, be creative, don’t stick with rules. Don’t get fed up with small things. Don’t fight over unnecessary things. Not every day is heaven, but in the end, it’s the most beautiful thing to lie relaxed and happy on a sofa in the night. And that’s far from hell, isn’t it?

Show consideration for each other, you’re not alone. Everyone is a bit self centered, some more, some less. Many Chinese are born in the one-child-policy time and act a bit spoiled, don’t let it drive you nuts! Try to view things out of your partners sight, that helps a lot. Another country, other people, other culture, different education… There are so many things to consider at all times.

An example: In the beginning of our relationship, Jiajia got furious about the amount of DVDs I would buy and watch. We had a huge argument about it, I thought she wanted to take this interest of mine away from me. Then I realized, I never told her carefully: I need to watch them as I review a lot of movie, hell, I even went to Cannes in 2005! How can I review movies when I’m not up to date? I explained carefully to her that I started reviewing movies in 2001, that I publish them on a website, that sometimes a magazine in Germany publishes them… As soon as I explained, she did not only supported me, she also went to buy them every once in a while together with me.

Love opens doors. Yes, that’s stolen from some song. But it’s true! Why else would the grandfather have accepted me? Even great director Shyamalan uses this phrase in The Village: When asked why he let the blind woman go onto a search, mayor Walker answers: ‘She is in love. She will find a way.’ Damn right! You don’t need to fear anything when you follow your heart. Kitschy, but true.

For sure, these are no world-moving or new realizations. But I finally got to understand them in their true meaning, in their full sense since China, since this relationship. I understood them so well, that I needed to write them down. Maybe I finally grew up. Maybe you can’t use them. Maybe you can. Maybe, maybe, maybe. See for yourself.

Why I wrote this story down just now.

After reading over 6.000 words from me, it’s your right to ask me this – go ahead!

It’s march 2007. One year ago, I moved to China. Three months ago, I got married. In three months, all my family will come for our wedding ceremony. Right now seems like a good time to write this down, not too early, not too late. Sure, some people like to write stuff like this, call it a chapter and add it to their biography, but hey, what am I blogging for? To share experiences, to share everything I consider interesting. And this is maybe – so far – the most interesting part in my life!

True love is so wonderful, it’s impossible to find the perfect words for it. It is invaluable. It is breathtaking, bending, insane. It is medicine, it is… everything. Probably the best, maybe the only reason to live. There is noting, absolutely nothing that can outdo it.

Now let me finish this long entry with these beautiful lyrics from Eric Clapton:

Someone like you

Could make me change my ways.

Someone like you

Could turn the nights into days.

I want to thank you, thank you now

For getting me back on my feet again.

I want to thank you, thank you now

For getting me back on my feet again.


Wô aì sî nî, Jiajia.

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