By: R.K. Shivachandra
In the wee hour of the following day we reached Guangzhou just on the eve of 104th Guangzhou Trade Fair. Already we made our registration to the trade fair via online. An invitation letter had already been extended to us from the organizing committee.
Mr.Oinam Oken with the Chinese girl who helped us in Guangzhou.
I didn’t book our hotel ahead of the schedule and this was my mistake. This tradition was formed none other than myself. In India we can break the city in search of hotels with the help of auto driver even in the middle of night. Over the years we formed a habit of spot management. We wanted to use the same acumen in China. But it was not all the time right. Sometime properly plan trip is highly recommended. There was a rumor that hotels tariff soars up especially during the trade fair in China. The rumor was not wrong. Hotels in Guangzhou were all booked and even if some rooms were available the exorbitant rates offered compelled us to wander around the city from one hotel to another. It was just a wise men’s move we pretended. But the accelerating fare that displayed in the tiny speedometer attached to the dashboard of the cab indicated that we were never wise. The quickest wit was to disembark of the vehicle and bid goodnight to the Chinese cab driver. The more ‘wise men’ we tried to act the more costly affair it became.
Moreover the meter that displayed the fare was not Indian currency. A tender girl of 22 or so accompanied us throughout our hotel hunting venture that night. She really helped us a lot. A hotel manager in a star hotel who pitied on us assigned her to find out a low cost hotel. Not long ago in India the Telegraph captioned a headline about a girl hailing from North Eastern part of India abandoned in the outskirt of Delhi by some beastly men after being raped. Had the Chinese girl by my side in the congested cab ever read the newspaper and had she realized that we belonged to that country, she would have been perhaps reluctant to accompany us… was a wild sort of thought suddenly crept up into my mind. For us in the cab, in that particular moment, the girl was like an angel sent by the God himself and she was as sweet as my own daughter who shines bright all the time in the corner of my eyes. How this rape thought penetrated in somebody’s mind especially in Delhi. Manipur too of late developed a culture akin to the Delhi style. Murdering women….. It is a shame, real big shame for every one of us.
Ultimately the last affordable one was Star Guangzhou hotel which offered us about 120 dollars per night perhaps the cheapest in whole of the Guangzhou during the trade fair. Just lump sum of Indian Rs 6,000 or may be little less. It was too costly just for a wink of sleep. It was more or less would be akin to my short afternoon nab. If we could afford to sit another two hours on the stony bench installed in front of the hotel than we would have been able to save about Rupees 12,000 thousands for the night was advancing much towards the dawn. However we had no choice for there is chance of missing the rooms. Any moment the rooms could be occupied by some late comers. Best thing was to book the hotel immediately. Moreover we were invited as a buyer to Canton Trade fair. In the Fair buyers were treated as special guest by the Chinese. Buyers meant they are tycoons in their respective trade and business. We never wanted to expose our ‘wallet status’ to anybody despite the fact that we went there to visit only not to buy anything.
The gigantic Guangzhou trade Fair in China and its importance evoked to be a matter of great concern to everybody. Especially Manipuris can play a role in the marketing area that I will try to share my views in the later part of the story. The sprawling market places of the trade fair were so big that it was not possible to cover in 3 days. A dawn to dusk brisk walk from one pavilion to another made us too weary. In full three days period we could not even cover half portion of the market block. Nagaland Chief Minister, Mr. Nephieu Rio with his team made a visit to the fair recently knowing fully the importance of the market. He came back with a lot of schemes, projects. He even prepared to procure some materials for the welfare of his State. I wish someone from the Manipur Government sector also visits the Fair? It will be good for the State.
China Import and Export Fair otherwise also known as Canton Fair is held twice a year in Spring and Autumn in Guangzhou since it was inaugurated in the Spring of 1957. It is China’s largest trade fair of the highest level, of the most complete varieties and of the largest attendance and business turnover. Preserving its traditions, the Fair is a comprehensive and multi-functional event of international importance.
Guangzhou trade fair(Canton trade fair)
Fifty Trading Delegations, being composed of thousands of China’s best foreign trade corporations (enterprises) with good credibility and sound financial capabilities, take part in the Canton Fair, including foreign trade companies, factories, scientific research institutions, foreign invested enterprises, wholly foreign-owned enterprises, private enterprises, etc.
Besides traditional way of negotiating against samples, the Fair holds Canton Fair online. The Fair leans to export trade, though import business is also done here. Apart from the above-mentioned, various types of business activities such as economic and technical co-operations and exchanges, commodity inspection, insurance, transportation, advertising, consultation, etc. are also carried out in flexible ways. Business people from all over the world are gathering in Guangzhou, exchanging business information and developing friendship.
The trade fair has many things to offer us ranging from the big machine like earth movers down to the tiny needles. Latest fashion technology and its products were displayed abundantly. Businessmen from Bangkok, Hongkong and other European countries came to attend the fare for marketing. Interestingly the product was meant for display and we cannot ask for a single piece. All the deal should be in term of thousands or the consignment should be via container. It was not for small-time business people. All these products will later be exported to Bangkok and other big cities for retail out let. Marketers from India will smuggle the items to big cities of India. North Easterners buy it happily at a price that we think cheap. Little did we know that the price in Kolkata is almost quadruple?
We came across many enthusiastic business tycoons in their respective trade. Their consignment is mostly transported through sea routes. They will first ask which the nearest seaport was. Kolkata is our nearest port yet a far off place from Manipur. Moreover dealing with the custom officials in Kolkata who are overdosed with “winning attitude” is really a tough job. May be it was all my inefficiency while dealing with people. For me language can be managed. I preferred talking with signs and body language rather than facing a hard nut.
So we presented our own route to the traders that started from Kunming-Chaxiong-Dali-Baoshan- Mangshi-Ruili-Mandalay than to Tammu. They had a look on the map and promptly assured us that they can. The transportation part up to Ruili, the border of China towards Myanmar is not an issue for hundreds of trucks use to shuttle up and down every day. Again the local transporters will shift the consignment to Myanmar. Whole process may take 7 days or at the most 10 days to reach Tammu safely.
Sometimes in my wildest thought I made an unqualified attempt to compare my Imphal with that of the Guangzhou City. The glittering city lights, the never ending skylines and hundreds of flyover that Chinese always boast of. The countless skyscrapers, the smiles on the faces of Chinese appeared one after another before my eyes and it turned out to be matter of great envy. Back to Manipur a flashback scene tormented me. Here in Manipur the young teen does not move around with beaming smile. They are meant to be paraded by security forces at their will. Sometimes they will get bamboo for the imported hair cut from Korea.
In the ghastly scene a young women Babina fell in the pond of blood clad with her finest attire, mapal naibi and nobody was there to pick her up from her moaning. The infant of 3 cried for help with a streaming tear, giving his best effort to wake his lifeless mom with the tiny hands. A police van came to the rescue. Some robotic figures disembarked from the vehicle and bundled the lifeless body only to hurl towards the back seat of the van. No mercy, no respect to an innocent women victim who got killed for no faults of hers. The Capital Market of Sanaleipak maintains a pin drop silence only the piercing sounds that disturbed the stillness was the cry of a baby…….ema…..ema………yes the son of Babina. Some few meters down the road there was a big gathering of the wisest 60 monkeys of Manipur at Mahavali Umang. They discussed among other things the law and order situation of Manipur. The King Monkey opined his view that the situation in Manipur has gone out of control the only option left with them was KILL ..KILL.. BUT.. KILL. YES… RIGHT… RIGHT was the answer from the rest of the colleagues. Are they the Hyenas or Monkeys? Yes dying in the hands of protectors will attain SALVATION…is what the Hindu Guru preaches around. And this is what the protectors of the land pave a way for their citizens.
Around the same time towards the eastern horizon in a place called China the scene is different. When the Sun finally put his last gaze over the great city from far sky and buried itself amidst the western mountains than the night life of the city begun. In the busy and crowded city Pearl River claimed a large portion of Guangzhou City to show case the rest of the world her supremacy. But the river is where the most scenic parts of the city are located. Many tourists’ spots are clustered along the river and the river has a reason to boast of. Infact more tourist are visited Guangzhou only to praise the beauty of the Pearl River.Sometimes Nambul river made a futile attempt to compete her counterpart in Guangzhou with all garbages she had collected from her well wishers.
In one romantic evening I had a cruise on the river. Sometimes my eyes could not escape those love birds in their teens making the street their cozy private place. But who cares nobody seemed to bother of what they were doing except a pair of eyes from Manipur. The Pearl River in Guangzhou City is picturesque, adorned by charming views along the river. A cruise along the Pearl River in Guangzhou is a ‘must’ if once we visit the city. Though my body floats on a dramatic boat on Pearl River, my mind goes back to Manipur as if I had a cruise on Imphal River. The riverside skyscrapers in China always try to find its way to the home sweet home cottages by the rivers of Imphal Turen. Rousseau once said in the first chapter of his book the Social Contact ” Man is born free but everywhere he is in chain”. I don’t know what the English professor interpreted it but for the Manipuris we have more chains attached to us than anybody else in the world over. Rousseau would have been better philosopher had he pointed out the difference between man to man, the race he belonged, the socio economic and community’s differences etc. In the modern ages some souls are roaming free .. free from all chains.
The Pearl River in evening
There were few boats floating with the ‘AMWAY’ glow boards in the river, obviously invested by the Networking groups. If any of our Manipuri AMWAY team ever visited the river they will certainly exclaim..waa waa… and they will suddenly fall in love with the AMWAY BOAT. They will capture more pictures of the AMWAY boats to display it to their down lines in Manipur. The night cruise was even more fascinating under the sparkling lights. The cruise started from the White Goose Pool and ended at the Guangzhou Bridge in the east and Baihedong (White Crane Cave) in the south. This section offers visitors vistas such as ‘Night Moon over the Goose Pool’ and ‘Red Heart of the Pearl River’. Every visitor will be captivated by the beauty of the Pearl River during this two-hour evening cruise.
The three days in Guangzhou have gone by. It was than the time to pack our things to proceed to Kunming, the city we have heard so often.