2019年08月21日 13:55:25|来源:国际在线|编辑:度分类
I came to China as a British diplomat in 1989. For two years prior to that I had been studying Mandarin. It was not really my decision.1989年,我以外交官的身份来到中国,之前的两年我开始学习中文。可这并不是我自己的决定。In 1986 I joined the British Foreign Office. I had a degree in European history and languages and spoke fluent German. Naively, I assumed that my future would lie in Western and Central Europe. But of course the Foreign Office had other ideas. This was not just out of sheer perversity, of the kind that all large organizations demonstrate from time to time. Their thinking was that, as I had a talent for languages, I should study one of the really hard ones, and they were particularly keen to send young diplomats to learn Arabic. (This is not just because of the strategic and economic importance of the Middle East, but simply because there are a large number of Arab countries, and so a large number of embassies need staffing.)我在1986年进入英国外交部。我曾获得欧洲历史与语言学位,能讲流利的德语。我曾天真地以为我会被派到西欧或者中欧,但他们对我却另有安排。外交部的决定也并非完全有悖常情,与所有大机构时而做出的变态决定还不同。他们认为我有语言天赋,应当学习一种真正有难度的语言。当时外交部特别喜欢派年轻外交官去学阿拉伯语。(这并非仅仅出于中东地区战略和经济地位的重要性考虑,也是因为那里有众多说阿拉伯语的国家,因此有同样众多的大使馆需要人手)。I had recently got married at this stage, and my wife told me in no uncertain terms that she did not want to spend half of her life heavily wrapped up in the fierce desert heat. So I needed to find another choice to prevent being forced into that course of action. Because my studies had been almost entirely Eurocentric, I knew nothing whatever about China, beyond a vague idea that it was a large place a long way to the east. But I pretended great enthusiasm for a career as a Sinologist, and was thus able to avoid banishment to the deserts of the Middle East.当时我新婚燕尔,我妻子明确得对我说她可不想下半辈子生活在酷热的沙漠。为了不被派往阿拉伯,我需要个替代方案。我的学问都是有关欧洲的。当时我只模糊晓得中国在遥远的东方,是个大国,除此这些,我对她一无所知。但为了不被流放到中东沙漠,我假装对汉学家这个职业抱有极大的热情。I enjoyed studying the language, although learning the characters remains probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I had one major problem with my studies; my first son was born the week the course started, and he made it impossible to concentrate (or sleep at night). I began the two-year course with no children and ended it with two, as we had another son in Hong Kong where the second year took place.我喜爱学习中文,但学汉字可以说得上是我这辈子遇见的最困难的事儿。在学中文时,我遇到的主要麻烦是:开课的第一周我大儿子降生了,当时他使我很难集中精力学习(夜里也很难睡个好觉)。第二年我的二儿子在香港出生。历时两年的中文课程开始时我还没孩子,而课程结束时我已是两个男孩的爸爸了。I was to spend most of the 1990s in China, a total of nine years, in which my children grew up chasing cockroaches around the living room and learning Chinese songs from our ayi. Sadly they never really learned Chinese, as in the diplomatic compounds there were families from every nationality on earth -- except Chinese.90年代我在中国度过了整整九年时间,孩子们渐渐长大,在客厅追着到处跑,跟中国阿姨学着唱中文歌。遗憾的是,他们都没有学会中文,因为在使馆区虽说有来自世界各国的家庭,却唯独没有中国的。I was always keen not to limit my acquaintance to other diplomats and foreigners; as I was in China I wanted to get to know the Chinese people, which in the late 1980s was just beginning to become possible. The criminal offence of ;li tong wai guo; had been abolished, and it was possible to establish genuinely friendly relations with people, both those one met through work and those one met through the social life which was just beginning to take off in the newly-opened bars.在中国期间,我的交际圈不仅仅局限于外交官和外籍人士,因为我身处中国,我想要了解这里的人。80年代末,中国废除了“里通外国”的刑事罪名,这让我和当地人成为真正的朋友成为可能,无论是在工作中还是在日常交往中遇到的。没了藩篱的束缚,生活也丰富了起来。From the start I found Chinese people naturally friendly and approachable. Despite China#39;s long isolation from the West, people seemed genuinely free from any inbuilt suspicion or resentment of foreigners, and happy to meet on equal terms. I learnt that it was very important to treat everyone I met with respect; the Chinese, like most people, don#39;t like being condescended to by foreigners, and the British have to be very careful in this respect because of our colonial past.一开始我便发现中国人天性友好、容易相处。尽管历史上中国曾与西方长期隔绝,但中国人对外国人没有固有的猜疑与怨恨,也愿意和外国人平等地结交。我意识到,尊重每一个我遇见的人非常重要;像大多数人一样,中国人不喜欢被外国人瞧不起,有过殖民历史的英国人更应注意这一点。This was particularly true in my job as a diplomat. Chinese diplomats were always highly intelligent and professional, but extremely concerned to preserve the dignity of their country. Debate was always tough, but open and honest and usually concluded with a friendly lunch or dinner. The impression I got at these meetings -- which I have retained ever since -- is that, so long as you treat the Chinese with proper respect for their nation and their culture, you can say anything you like, and I have always been able to be completely frank.作为一名外交官,我忠诚得履行着我的职责。中国的外交官悟性都很强,且具有很高的职业素养,他们竭力维护国家尊严。我们之间的争论常常非常激烈,却又坦诚布公,过后我们经常友好地共同用膳。在这些会议上中国外交官给我留下的印象是,只要你尊重中国和中国文化,你就可以和中国人敞开心扉,畅所欲言。And, as a diplomat, there was always the danger of politics putting a strain on professional and personal relationships. The worst case of this was the terrible accidental NATO bombardment of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999. It was a very difficult meeting a few days later when I had to go into the China#39;s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make formal apologies on behalf of my government, and had to listen to a lot of fierce and entirely understandable criticism. In the preceding days I had been besieged in the British Embassy for four days by stone-throwing demonstrators angered by NATO#39;s dful mistake. While I sat in my office dodging missiles, I was delighted to receive a phone call from a young Chinese couple I had met a few days before. They expressed sympathy for my difficult situation, and said they hoped I wouldn#39;t be prevented from appearing at the dinner to which they had invited me that evening!身为一名外交人士,政治动荡常会影响工作和人际关系。最糟糕的一件事情是,1999年位于贝尔格莱德市的中国大使馆遭到北大西洋公约组织轰炸。事后数日,我代表英国政府到中国外交部致歉,我不得不面对许多完全合乎情理的激烈批评。在这之前,被北大西洋公约组织的暴行激怒的示威者向英国大使馆投掷石头,导致我被围困在大使馆四天之久。幸运的是,当我在办公室躲避石块时,我接到了不久前认识的一对年轻中国夫妇的电话,他们很同情我当时的境遇,并且希望我能如约参加当天晚上他们组织的晚宴。It cannot be denied that living in faraway countries imposes strains on family life. Sadly, a lot of marriages fail in careers like diplomacy, and mine was one of them. I got very much involved in China, its people and its culture, which my wife did not do to any great extent, and gradually we discovered that we had been drifting apart. This is a fate which can be very difficult to avoid, as one can never tell in advance how a spouse will adapt to a strange environment.不可否认,生活在遥远的国度会给家庭生活带来很大的压力。让人伤心的是,许多外交人士的婚姻以失败告终,我的婚姻也未能幸免。我深深地融入中国人民和中国文化之中,而我的妻子却不是这样的。逐渐,我们发现彼此日益疏离。这是命运,难以避免。因为此前我无法预知妻子适应陌生的生活环境的能力。And so, in a development which is very common among expatriate men working in China, I acquired a new wife, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine from Chongqing. We are still experiencing the eternal ups and downs of a cross-cultural marriage; I love my fu-qi-fei-pian and she enjoys a full breakfast of sausages, bacon and beans at the weekend.像很多在中国工作的外籍男人一样,我开始了另一段婚姻。我的妻子是一名来自重庆的中医。现在,我们仍然经历着跨文化婚姻的坎坷与甜蜜;我喜欢吃夫妻肺片,她也喜欢周末早餐里的香肠、培根和豆子。Now I no longer work in China, but I have kept up a habit of visiting at least once a year, funds permitting. I still maintain a network of good Chinese friends, who are very important to me; some of them I have been close to for over twenty years. I never found it at all difficult to establish good friendships. In fact some of my Chinese friends are prepared to tell me secrets about themselves which they wouldn#39;t tell to their Chinese friends! (Because a foreigner knowing your secrets doesn#39;t make you lose face.)现在我已不在中国工作,但只要财力允许,我每年仍然回到中国一次。我与许多中国朋友仍旧保持着联系,他们对我而言非常重要。我和其中一些人已经密切交往了20多年。和他们成为朋友不是什么难事。事实上我的许多中国朋友更愿意向我倾诉心里话,而不是向他的同胞朋友。(因为一个外国人知道你的秘密不会让你没面子。)I have been there to support a young family when their son was born; I have acted as interpreter at a Sino-British wedding; and I have attended the funeral of a lovely girl who died tragically young. My friends and I know all each other#39;s histories, and I find it very reassuring that, while the China I knew in 1989 has changed beyond recognition, the people have not.在中国,我一直资助着一对年轻夫妇,那时他们的儿子刚出生。我曾在一个中英婚礼上担任翻译,我还曾参加一位可爱可惜英年早逝的女孩的葬礼。我和我的朋友们都熟知彼此的过去。可以肯定的是,虽然1989年后的中国已经变得无法识别,然而,那里的人们始终没有变。Except in one respect. All my friends seem to have the most enormous children. The rapid improvement in nutrition in China over the last 30 years is really noticeable, especially in the north; medium-height parents are producing boys growing to 185-190 cm in height! It is quite alarming.唯一改变的是,我的中国朋友们的孩子长得都很高大。在过去的30年里,中国人的营养状况迅速改善,特别是北方,中等个头夫妇的儿子身高可达1.85到1.9米,这简直太令人吃惊了。I don#39;t know whether I will ever live and work full-time in China again. I am in my fifties now, and as a long-term expatriate friend once said to me, China probably isn#39;t the best place to grow old in. (If one does not benefit from a Chinese network of family relationships, that is.) What I would like is a little house in the countryside, perhaps somewhere in Sichuan near to my wife#39;s family, in which I would live for five or six months a year writing books and journalism, and spend the rest of the year in Scotland, which has now become my home. But once China gets into your blood, you will never get it out again.我不知是否还会回到中国全职工作和生活。如今我已年过五旬,一个和我一样在国外工作过的老友告诉我,中国不适合养老(如果在中国没有家人和亲戚的话,的确如此)。我希望在中国的乡间有个小院,最好就在我妻子四川老家那边。每年我在那里住上五、六个月,写写书、撰撰稿。其余的时间我呆在苏格兰,那里是我现在的家。没错儿,一旦中国融入你的血液,你就再也无法割舍。 /201303/228001Two travelling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guestroom. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem."The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him, she accused. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die."Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it.""Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don't turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not know it until some time later...Some people come into our lives and quickly go…Some people become friends and stay awhile...leaving beautiful footprints on our hearts...and we are never quite the same because we have made a good friend!!Yesterday is history.Tomorrow a mystery.Today is a gift.That's why it's called the present!I think this life is special...live and savour every moment...This is not a dress rehearsal! 两个旅行中的天使到一个富有的家庭借宿。这家人对他们并不友好,并且拒绝让他们在舒适的客房过夜,而是在冰冷的地下室给他们找了一个角落。当他们在硬邦邦的地板上铺床时,年长的天使发现墙上有一个洞,就顺手把它修补好了。年轻的天使问为什么,年长的天使答到:“有些事并不象它看上去那样。”第二晚,两人又到了一个非常贫穷的农家借宿。主人夫妇俩对他们非常热情,把仅有的一点点食物拿出来款待客人,然后又让出自己的床铺给两个天使。第二天一早,两个天使发现农夫和他的妻子在哭泣--他们唯一的生活来源,一头奶牛死了。年轻的天使非常愤怒,他质问年长的天使为什么会这样,第一个家庭什么都有,为什么还帮助他们修补墙洞,第二个家庭尽管如此贫穷还是热情款待客人,而他却没有阻止奶牛的死亡。“有些事并不象它看上去那样。”年长的天使说,“当我们在地下室过夜时,我从墙洞看到墙里面堆满了金块。因为主人被贪欲所迷惑,不愿意分享他的财富,所以我把墙洞填上了,不让他发现金子。“昨天晚上,死亡之神来召唤农夫的妻子,我让奶牛代替了她。所以有些事并不象它看上去那样。”有些时候事情的表面并不是它实际应该的样子。如果你有信念,你只需要坚信付出总会得到回报。你可能不会发现,直到后来…有些人走进我们的生活然后很快就离开了…有些人成为朋友并稍作停留… 在我们的心里留下美丽的足印。因为有了一个好朋友,我们会变得跟从前不一样!!昨天是历史。明天是一个谜。今天是一份礼物。这才是今天存在的意义!我觉得这就是人生的特别之处...体验和品味着生活的点点滴滴…生活并非排! /200804/34780

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