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China Daily Website

Shared history draws students from dragon land

Updated: 2013-05-18 16:15
( chinadaily.com.cn)

Shared history draws students from dragon land

Zhang Yang [Photo provided to China Daily website]

Shared history draws students from dragon land

Hu Xiaowen [Photo provided to China Daily website]

Shared history draws students from dragon land

Wu Shunmian [Photo provided to China Daily website]

Shared history draws students from dragon land

Candace Liu [Photo provided to China Daily website]

NEW DELHI: Zhang Yang left his home near Beijing to study Buddhism "in the country where it was born". A second-year student of the department of Buddhist studies at Delhi University, Zhang, 26, is one of several students from different parts of China who have made, at least temporarily, Delhi their home.

Zhang's other reason for coming here is the abundance of vegetarian food options in Delhi. For he's a rare Chinese who prefers vegetarian food and who's last memorable eating-out experience was at a south Indian joint in Connaught Place. From Indian friends, he's picked up a smattering of Hindi. He can now direct autowalas, ask prices and when he gets a text message, he replies, "mil gaya". "The first time I came here, I found India very colourful and more cosmopolitan," he said.

But Delhi's reputation preceded the real experience. Hu Xiaowen, 30, had heard much about the city from friends-mainly that it's not particularly nice-but was pleasantly surprised when she arrived last year.

"Every once in a while, there are cases in Delhi and they make the news but it's okay. Weather is also a problem but I have made a few close Indian friends," she says. In Yunnan, she was a social science researcher and belongs to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Forum for Regional Cooperation. She came to India for her PhD because she wanted to "understand India's take on the subject"-she's writing her thesis on Indo-China relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

But Chinese students don't remain at international students' hostels all the time. Wu Shunmian, 24, is a final year student of philosophy at Hindu College and has travelled much over the last three years. "I have visited Kolkata, Agra and hometowns of my college-mates-like Lucknow," he says. Now he's comfortable enough in the city to stay independently in Kamla Nagar-popular with North Campus students. He has also got used to the food. "In the beginning I used to find it very spicy, even the non-vegetarian items, but now I'm used to it," he says. Now he has lunch in college and cooks-Chinese-at home for dinner. "It's very difficult to get many items I like such as certain types of cabbage," he adds.

Hu goes all the way to Gurgaon from JNU to get fresh vegetables from a farmhouse. Free time is spent at Basant Lok market and at the Gurgaon malls. She can take the Metro. But buses she's avoided since December 16, 2012. Apart from his interest in philosophy, Indian culture and religions, the medium of instruction-English-also drew Wu to DU. Candace Liu, 20, is also brand new in the city. A first-year student of psychology at IP College, she too is charmed by religious practices here-"There are so many gods!" She has two more years in the city.

Source: The Times of India; Authors: Shreya Roy Chowdhury & Jayashree Nandi

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