An important lesson (from Toilet Paper)

During August 2011, I moved to Beijing. The transition was difficult, no doubt about that. I’m going to highlight a very specific issue I experienced during that transition – don’t worry, I won’t go into too much detail.

During my first week at university, I was extremely irritated by the fact that every time I went to the bathroom there wasn’t any toilet paper! This really bothered me. How could a university not provide toilet paper? As students we pay a large tuition fee, and in return, we should be provided with these basic (and cheap) goods. However, the Chinese students don’t expect to get free toilet paper, so they come prepared. I made sure the bathroom never cause me off-guard again. I armed myself with a small roll of tissues which I kept in my bag. Let’s take a look at exactly what happened…

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Beautiful blue skies are paralleled with serene starry nights. I go outside in the morning, fill my lungs with fresh air as the warm of the sun shines on my face, and go about my seizing the day. Mountain-ranges are clearly visible on the eastern out-skirts of the city.

For some of you, this may be sound familiar, so familiar that it is taken for granted. For those of you living in mainland China, you realise that this is not usually the case. To experience this on a daily basis in Beijing is more akin to a fantasy. However, over the past week, this we have been living in that fantasy. Since I came to Beijing in 2011, I’ve never experienced anything like this. I didn’t even think anything like this was possible. Beijing has put on its best face for all the foreign leaders that are here for the APEC meeting.

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Thanks to table tennis, I call him 大爷。

Before I start my first blog post, I’d like to thank my beautiful mother for encouraging me to write down my memorable experiences in China. Thank you!

Table tennis is hard-wired into my genes. I come from a family of talented table tennis players. My grandfathers (God rest their souls in peace) were great players. I will never forgot one day, when I was an early teenager, when ‘Jaddu Ghazi’ challenged me to a game. I had recently won the a national tournament and was oozing with confidence. I remember thinking to myself, “This is going to be funny.” My dad whispered, “Take it easy, Fahad.”

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