“Do you know Deng Xiaoping?”

This is part 2 of a conversation I had with a taxi driver in Shenzhen. The conversation was rather long, so I’ve split it into 6 parts. Click here if you’ve missed part 1 (“Is learning English hard for you?”) and stay tuned for part 3-6: Weddings and gifts, “Do you like China?”, “The most important thing is happiness” and “Does Austria also have birth planning?”.

Cab driver: “Do you know Deng Xiaoping?”
I: “I do.”
He: “He was a great guy. China would be quite different without him. I mean, look at Shenzhen, it would still be a poor fishing village if it weren’t for him. He has created millions of opportunities. If Mao was still alive, all this would not have been possible. Reform and opening would have never taken place.”
I: “And I wouldn’t be sitting in your car chatting with you.”
He: “What?”
I: “Well, there weren’t many foreigners in China at that time, since it was closed to the outside world.”
He: “Oh, you’re right.”

He: “Have you ever been to Chengdu* or Jiuzhaigou**?”
I: “I’ve been to Chengdu, but not to Jiuzhaigou.”
He: “Jiuzhaigou is very beautiful. There are large naturally grown forests with big old trees.”
I: “I do like nature a lot.”
He: “I do like nature too. And I love the sea! Looking at the sea makes one feel very calm. I recently climbed Nanshan (南山 Nánshān, literally meaning Southern Hill, the hill Shenzhen’s Nanshan district derives its name from). You can see the sea from the top of the hill and you can also see Hongkong. You have a 360 degree view. All the anger and annoyances of everyday life seem small compared to the sea.”
I: “I’ll have to check out Nanshan one day. Oh by the way, where are you from?”
He: “I’m from Guang’an*** in Sichuan, from the same place as Deng Xiaoping.”

*Chengdu (成都 Chéngdū) is the capital of Sichuan province.
**Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟 Jiǔzhàigōu, literally Valley of Nine Villages is a nature reserve and national park on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in Northern Sichuan).
***Guang’an (广安 Guǎng’ān) is the name of a city as well as a county in Eastern Sichuan, the birthplace of Deng Xiaoping is in Guang’an county.

 Have you ever had a similar conversation? I’d love to hear your stories.

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10 thoughts on ““Do you know Deng Xiaoping?”

    • He was and he seemed like a very nice guy. It’s funny how there are some drivers who don’t seem to like talking at all and those who love to talk with their passengers. I’m wondering if there’a taxi driver turned writer who has published all the personal stories passengers tell him/her – that would be an insightful book.

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