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The Continuing education of Mr. Joke

Being the third installment of one man’s adventure in the Middle Kingdom


Mr. Joke meets meets Ho Ti.
Mr. Joke meets meets Ho Ti.


Chongqing reminds me of Durham, real and gritty, but minus the diversity. No, wait.  Here, I am the diversity — stared at shamelessly wherever I go. As travel writer Paul Theroux writes in “Riding the Iron Rooster,” in China, staring is a national pastime. I am the only Anglo I’ve seen since arriving here, totally unlike being in Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong.  And a bit of inexplicable irony: at the log cabin I built 40 years ago in the N.C. mountains, there nestles a concrete lawn ornament of this same jolly fellow — our family’s jocular guardian all these years. Go figure. That explains the goofy look on my face here, thus posing with “the guy who is in charge of happiness,” my host Prof. Chen  explains. In any event, I like this guy, to whom, after a hearty Chinese meal, I bear an uncanny resemblance.

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