“One on One” Program Witnessing Tibet Series:
The Writer, Alai (April 29, 2008)
Host: Tibetan writer Alai is an influential writer in contemporary literary circles, based on his full-length novel As the Dust Settles (English title, Red Poppies), he once won the Fifth Mao Dun Literature Award, and is up to now the only Tibetan writer to gain this honor. Being a Tibetan writer, Alai pays greater attention to the original living conditions of Tibetan compatriots, and the changes and desires contained in this kind of life. Today, let us get closer to Alai, to regard the historical and cultural changes in Tibetan areas from a Tibetan writer’s point of view.
- Tibetan Professional writer
- Deputy Chairman of the Sichuan Province Writers’ Association
- Board member of the China Writers’ Association
Commentary: On April 15th, 2008, Tibetan writer Alai flew from Chengdu to Beijing. His reason for this trip was to participate in a discussion on the multi-volume novel Hollow Mountain organized by the journal, Contemporary Writers’ Review. Hollow Mountain is the main literary work by Alai in recent years, altogether divided into three parts and six volumes. The first two parts have already been officially published, and the manuscript for the third part was also finished at the beginning of 2008, and will soon be published. Hollow Mountain describes in collage form the developments and changes of a village in a Tibetan area, adopts a common culture and background, different people and situations, to construct a three-dimensional image of a Tibetan village in order to reveal life in Tibetan areas.
Interview date: April 16, 2008
Alai: Actually, I’ve always had one ambition, which is to write about the social changes that have taken place in Tibetan regions over the past century, the last one hundred years.
Reporter: What you want to express, how has that changed?
Alai: I really want to use the changes in peoples’ fates, because every book writes about different changes in peoples’ fates, using the changes in the fates of the characters you write about in order to refract the changes of these times. These last hundred years are the greatest hundred years of change, or improvement, in Tibetan society. Moreover, according to Tibetan history, the changes of the past hundred years are perhaps greater, even much greater, than any changes of the past thousand years.
Alai: However, these cultural changes, changes in social organization, etc. the major changes, were not made fifty years ago, but were made fifty years later.
Alai: I write about peasants’ lives today, those lives of peasants who farm. That younger generation that wants to leave the farm, their hopes with life, actually I have to tell everyone, Tibet is more plentiful, especially in aspects of most peasants’ daily life, we’re well off compared to Chinese, Mongolians, even in terms of a farming household in an Indian village in the USA, there isn’t a huge difference in living.
Alai: Therefore, in Hollow Mountain I say, and later they also have observations about the household and notice in particular, that the character of religion is becoming more and more diluted. And I say that this is a kind of change in social reality. Because Red Poppies involved some religion, since at that time, it was also a kind of reality, so you have to write about that period’s politics, and it is inevitably closely tied to religion, you can’t avoid it. Today, when I write Hollow Mountain, I try as much as possible to not write about religion. But now for those of us outside Tibet, we still don’t pay enough attention to this kind of real life of Tibet, and instead pay a lot of attention to those very symbolic external things. So I once wrote a small piece, saying that Tibet is an adjective, Tibet is a noun to me, meaning whatever it is, it is. However, for most people, because they don’t want to regard Tibet as an existing reality, Tibet is a symbol.
Alai: And turned it into an adjective. You can’t observe Tibet’s reality very well, very objectively.
Reporter: People have turned a noun like Tibet into an adjective, isn’t it because they’ve lacked a certain writer for so many years, who could introduce Tibet’s actual situation for the outside person to see, is it closely related to this?
Alai: This also has a lot to do with it.
Alai: That’s why I often say, I say the work of my writing if it has anything at all, I say I’m actually dispelling Tibet’s mysteriousness, because we often say Tibet is associated with one word, mysteriousness. In reality is Tibet really that mysterious? It’s not that mysterious.
Alai: If we regard such ways correctly at all, we would pay more attention to nationality, pay more attention to ordinary peasants, look more for what they have, don’t look for what makes them different from us, look more for what they have in common with us. This is what I think would be a much better kind of situation.
Reporter: When did you begin to decide to use the means of writing and novels to record this age of rapid change?
Alai: I probably had a kind of very intense feeling about this from a young age, because our own lives were one culture out of many that was intensely affected, intensely molded. So if you had anything for certain, if you had any definite feelings toward this period, toward your own ethnic culture, I believe it would all be more intensely impacted than other people, like a shock to one’s thinking. Therefore, from a young age I started learning a little history, began learning some other things, so that I would be especially concerned with such subjects.
Born in a tiny village on the ancient tea-horse road
What kind of childhood did he have from this ancient courier station?
Learning Chinese was like listening to nonsense
How did he overcome the obstacles of language
“One on One” Dong Qian exclusively interviews Tibetan writer Alai, in broadcast
Commentary: Alai’s birthplace is in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in the northwestern part of Sichuan Province, a place called “Gyarong” in Tibetan language, which means a farming valley close to Han Chinese areas. In 1959, Alai was born in a small village in Barkham County, Ngawa Prefecture, the Tibetan name of this village is called Karrong, the Chinese name is called Matang.
Reporter: What was the ethnic composition of this little village? What was the economic situation like?
Alai: This little village is really interesting, in the past, because it is at an elevation of approximately four thousand meters at the foothills of the mountains, and goes through the northwest, Tibetans going from Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan to the extremely important postal road of the Chengdu plains, we now call it the “Ancient Tea Horse Road”, every one did that. Actually, in the past it was this kind of ancient trade route.
Alai: So from ancient times until now, to the early 1950s, the village was an important courier station, a thoroughfare. But later after we grew up, this courier station had already gone into decline, because there was already a highway. The highway also led in a different direction, so this place inevitably went downhill. However, after going into decline, it left behind a lot of legends, including one about my own family, including the past. Because it was just a typical nomadic, just a farming village, it had to be fertile, had to be complex, moreover it was in touch with all kinds of news from all over, from the outside world.
Reporter: Its means were through stories and legends?
Alai: What’s more, people say what is really interesting about the village is, folk legends say it had a kind of strength in dealing with the arts. But at that time, we didn’t really know, it was something that just happened to you the other day, according to what he said, it seems like it was something that took place a hundred years ago.
Reporter: Do you often hear about these kinds of stories?
Alai: Of course at that time the village didn’t have any kind of entertainment, especially during the winter. There was just one fireplace in each household, at night they would have a little wine to drink, make something to eat. Only when everyone gathered together, then stories would be told, old songs would be sung; it was this kind of atmosphere. But if we look at this atmosphere today, it is full of artistic appeal.
Reporter: What ethnicity were these ten or so families? Were they all Tibetan?
Alai: Our village here is a little complex, since it, of course it is mainly Tibetan, but because after commerce and administration went into decline in the past, a lot of people left, all the old business people left, but within [the village] there are also Hui, because we’re close to the Northwest, for example, my father is Hui.
Reporter: Your family is made up of two ethnicities?
Alai: Hui and Tibetan, my mother is Tibetan.
Reporter: Your mother is Tibetan and your father is Hui. Did this kind of ethnic combination influence you growing up?
Alai: On the contrary, this didn’t influence me.
Alai: First of all, the local culture was primarily Tibetan culture. When my father’s family came, he could only conform to it, his minority people could only conform to the local customs. He didn’t bring along his religion or customs because it wasn’t possible to bring them, there wasn’t that kind of environment.
Reporter: So what language does your family speak?
Alai: Of course we mainly speak Tibetan language.
Reporter: So in other words, your mother tongue is Tibetan language?
Alai: Tibetan language.
Commentary: Because it was once an important courier station on a thoroughfare, the village where Alai lived was more open than traditionally significant Tibetan areas. From his childhood, Alai navigated between two languages. In 1966, Alai entered primary school and began to face studying Chinese language.
Reporter: How old were you when you started going to school?
Alai: I was probably about 7 years old, but we were really happy to go to school. At that time when we went to school, the first year was a little like preschool these days, called preparatory class. The first year of preparatory class didn’t involve going to class, it was just teaching Chinese language and conversation. Just to be able to understand what you hear daily.
Reporter: For you, as a kind of oral language, is Tibetan better? Or is Chinese better?
Alai: Of course Tibetan is better, because Tibetan language and your life have to have a close relationship. Then, at the same time language is also a kind of way and habit of thinking, so the integration of language and local life must be close. Moreover, language represents lifestyle; it is the most suitable and even vibrant for only this kind of thing.
Reporter: After going to school, was it possible to continue to study Tibetan language at the same time?
Alai: At that time if we were allowed to choose, especially our group of people from this area, we probably would have even chosen Chinese language. However, Tibetan culture has a characteristic, which is, because of its past society, its culture was monopolized by the monastic class, so the majority of the common people, of course I don’t want to use statistical numbers to say 90%, 80%, we don’t have statistics for this, but anyway, most people are all illiterate.
Reporter: Why is this?
Alai: Because Tibetans, look, if you open a map of China, such a huge plateau, probably at least a fifth of China. Such a big area has only about five million people, and the geographic separations are really severe. Therefore in Tibetan language, there are so many different cultures and dialects, and on top of that, the differences are huge. Perhaps the differences between the dialects in our Tibetan language and a so-called standard language are much larger than the differences between Cantonese, Fujianese, and Beijing people’s languages. Tibetan language, for example, takes Lhasa dialect as its standard. If we were to go learn it, it would be like learning a foreign language; the difference in dialects is really that big. Secondly, at that time, you wouldn’t know, after learning Tibetan language, because in most places, you were using Chinese language.
Reporter: Studying Chinese at that time was a kind of tool for you, is it still?
Alai: Perhaps starting from that time, we would treat culture, I can’t say how old I was at that time, I understood culture as much as I do today, so at that time I definitely would have considered that learning this thing, what other people told you was this, you could change your life.
Commentary: With Tibetan language as his own mother tongue, when Alai began to go to Chinese language and culture classes in primary school, he found it extremely strenuous.
Reporter: When a person has a mother tongue, it’s a very difficult process to take on another language. I suppose you had to experience these difficulties from a young age?
Alai: It was extremely difficult, because I think from primary school, moreover we were considered good within all the Tibetan areas, other people thought our area was a fairly open area, many people from before understood a little [Chinese language]. At school, the teacher was really happy upon first hearing us and said ‘these kids all have a foundation’. We could say ‘eat’, we could say ‘the sun has come out’, we could say ‘the cattle have gone up the mountain, the sheep have come down from the mountain’, but these were useless. Once you entered the realm of the textbook, you realized that even though you seemed to understand every sentence the teacher spoke in the classroom, in the end, after you left class, you didn’t understand what it was actually trying to tell you. So for many years I couldn’t understand my classes. Of course a lot of people who couldn’t understand just let it be, but since I was a kid I particularly had a kind of anxiety, that of not understanding. I remember when I was young I always had a nightmare about not understanding math one by one: those in brackets, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, one by one the formulas fell down from the sky, it was that kind of solid, like something made of foam, that crushed your body until you couldn’t breathe.
Reporter: When did you start to understand?
Alai: Finally one day, but at a time when I was going all out, I mastered this thing as best I could. Reading newspapers, anyway reading as much of anything I got that had some words on it, so finally one day, I remember it was when I was in the third grade of primary school, that day, I felt like my brain was normally made of wood, then that day it was like in one buzz it opened up, I understood everything I couldn’t understand before. From that time on, I felt it was like entering a world, up until now, I feel that if I wish to make something understood, I can make clear any situation using Chinese language, you just have to give me a line of words, this kind of ability to understand has been cultivated.
Wandering around Tibetan areas like an ascetic monk
What kind of creative inspirations did he gain?
Writing on the go
Why isn’t he satisfied with his own creations?
“One on One” Dong Qian exclusively interviews Tibetan writer Alai, in broadcast
Commentary: In 1979, Alai graduated cum laude from Barkham Normal School, and was assigned to a post as a teacher in a Tibetan area village primary school. Having taught well, after two years, Alai was transferred to the Barkham County Secondary School as the history teacher for the graduating class. From being a grade school student with scant knowledge of Chinese language to now being a Tibetan teacher using Chinese language to teach class, Alai has a deeper understanding of Chinese language, and from his interest in literature, Alai formed a creative impulse, and began attempting to use Chinese language to write.
Reporter: When you first started writing in Chinese, there was then an issue placed in the forefront, what would you write using Chinese? What would you write using Chinese that would be your strong point?
Alai: What to write, I think a lot of people have been looking a long time for this way. What I first started to write, actually I don’t think it was very clear. It was hard to avoid going along and writing a little of what other people were writing at the same time. In this writing process, at that time I was really, really confused, I began to publish my work in 1982.
Reporter: What piece did you publish in 1982?
Alai: Poetry that I wrote.
Reporter: What was the content of what you wrote?
Alai: At that time I was still in a village school teaching class, going for walks every day, so I observed the restoration of a monastery. Each day they drew the murals for the monastery, what kind of birds, what kind of flowers, what kind of buddhas, they were all drawn based on scriptures, there weren’t that many works by artists inside. Everyday I observed, I watched those people paint, a way of painting turned into a procedure, painting everyday. I observed that what they themselves painted also lacked spirit. Suddenly one day, I watched a young lama, it was very interesting: he got tired of painting and came outside and painted a dove on a slab of stone. What he painted on the spur of the moment was really life-like. All at once it was different from the other things he painted: The dove painted on the stone was about to fly away.
Reporter: What did you observe from these details?
Alai: One thing I saw was religious, the kind of ideological form that strongly needs to standardize people within a framework, inside every corner of each individual’s soul, seeking a kind of possibility of freedom, this kind of comparison. After another year or two, when I wrote that poem, I suddenly thought of that image.
Commentary: This first poem entitled “The Fluttering Sound of the Wings of Your Soul” was the first literary work officially published by Alai. Because he was skilled in writing, in 1984, Alai was transferred to the position of editor of the New Grasslands magazine under the Ngawa Prefecture Cultural Affairs Department. After undertaking writing work, Alai frequented bookshops to read and purchase books. He read a large amount of internationally famous writers, these classic works translated into Chinese both broadened his horizons, and also brought him inspiration. Alai began to reflect on the issues dealt with within his own writings.
Reporter: What [issues] did you face?
Alai: The issues I faced were: I wanted to enter this field of writing, which had never been expressed by very good literature.
Reporter: What field did you want to enter?
Alai: The field of describing society in Tibetan areas.
Reporter: Until this, there hadn’t been any other writers who had written pieces about this area?
Alai: There were, but they were of the kind of style that I didn’t agree with.
Reporter: In other words, in your mind’s eye, there wasn’t a single piece of writing that was able to express well and in its original state these people’s ways of life, a kind of concept of living, etc. in Tibetan areas.
Alai: Right, and on top of that, social reality isn’t conveyed very well, it may conceptually block some realities; there is this kind of issue.
Reporter: What made you write it down?
Alai: We were pretty lucky because, actually a period of time gives people a lot of experience, this period of time I think I am especially indebted to the 1980s. At that time we encountered a lot of different ideological trends in foreign literature, particularly at that time I encountered two foreign, really great, one was America’s Whitman in English, one was Latin America’s Neruda in Spanish, these kinds of two poets, I thought I had found two mentors. Neither of these two mentors were along the same lines as me, nor were they in the same time period as me.
Reporter: So did it change you?
Alai: To express using a kind of familiar language, and moreover a very ancient and culturally rich traditional language, to express a reality that had never before been expressed. Neruda used Spanish language to express South America, Whitman used English language to express America, and I really liked the kind of style of these two people, which was that kind of, one was in America, one was in South America traveling around, then singing, and writing.
Commentary: Just like the poets Whitman and Neruda that he adored in his mind’s eye, Alai begin to travel like an ascetic around the seventy-thousand square kilometer area of his own Ngawa Prefecture.
Reporter: I want to know what did you want to do? What did you want to gain?
Alai: Of course each time was not the same as your average trip. At that time, after having one’s own literary ways of thinking, you determine some topics for yourself. For instance, when I go out this time, what will I have to do? What things do I mainly want to see?
Reporter: Can you give me an example?
Alai: Take local history for instance, because every place I went to at that time, it was like you would discover some abandoned, already ruined towns inside those mountains, just like an ancient European castle, suddenly there. If you were someone who believed in fate, even the wild walnut trees have already grown so huge within those city walls, meaning that those houses have lain fallen for a hundred, two hundred years. Then you go ask local people, for example, I walked to one place, and came across this kind of big ghost town, the ruins of a village. He told me, this building was called “Gyalpo” in Tibetan language, what is “Gyalpo”: king.
Reporter: You were communicating with him in Tibetan language, right?
Alai: Of course, spoken language is fine. This was the king’s building, the king’s building, because at that time, those, the chiefs of those indigenous peoples of the local areas all considered themselves kings, and even called themselves kings. In Tibetan language, it meant “king”. The aforesaid king received some kind of curse, because he didn’t treat a certain kind of person amicably, and this person should have received kind treatment. So how did he receive the curse then? The legend is very straightforward, a piece of rock fell down from the back of the mountain, one day, in the middle of the night, it just happened to break off, it rolled down from the mountain and crashed into this building. Afterwards, this king went into decline. Then around his village, meaning his serfs and these things, also scattered in all directions, and this village disappeared. This kind of story and legend can be encountered everywhere.
Commentary: The fruits of his travels are two literary works that Alai has written in Chinese. The first one is a collection of poems that describe his homeland’s mother river, Somang River, and the [second] one is a collection of short stories called Bloodstained Years of Old, from these he was recognized as a writer. And his method of writing while traveling is something foreigners consider the most independent and unique way.
Reporter: If you write in Chinese while traveling, what kind of meaning and influence does it have?
Alai: At that time also, perhaps I wrote a few things, but I didn’t think it was any special way; deep down I was still kind of hazy. Actually it was also a kind of way to go out and shake off this haziness.
Reporter (typo in original? Should be Alai): A lot of people call you a writer, but at this time I was truly extremely terrified, that kind of terror I just talked about, was I really a writer? I suddenly started to ask myself this question. In the beginning publishing one or two poems, receiving a couple prizes, this kind of vain thing, until later there’s nothing. On the contrary, I always asked myself, do I fit? The kinds of people I thought of were Li Bai, Du Fu, Su Dong Po, Neruda, and Whitman. Then, I also thought, the differences between myself and their time were too great, moreover, could we catch up with them on those points, was there this kind of possibility?
Reporter: What exactly were you seeking?
Alai: I just wanted to affirm myself, I thought there was only one kind of way, which was to return to my land, and be among my people. That year I traveled completely on foot, that year I went to two counties, which doesn’t amount to much in the mainland, there it was close to thirty-thousand square kilometers. I walked for a long time. I even completely wore out a really good pair of shoes.
That time, I probably walked for more than two months. When I set out, I told my wife, I said, this time I might set out and come back. In the end the possibilities were, one was that I would continue to write it down, one was that from then until now I wouldn’t write a single word anymore. These two books were a record of impulsive youth, and I returned to being a teacher.
Reporter: I just can’t understand, since you also just said that in the midst of this kind of continuous writing and hesitation, you already affirmed yourself as the first generation of Tibetan intellectuals, you had a sense of responsibility.
Alai: When I was in my thirties, my thinking wasn’t as clear as it is today. Yet, in those travels, I thought I did. Moreover, along the way I wrote a long poem for myself, but in fact it wasn’t just about myself, it was written about the complete harmony between this piece of land and the people on this piece of land.
At the same time, you were still an intellectual, you were also able to be detached from these feelings, to observe this piece, you looked at it as a piece of history, recorded this kind of change. Therefore, I regarded that time, this was 1989, so that year was also when I wrote my last poem. I thought I would never write poetry again. Since then I’ve stayed steadfast, I didn’t written poetry again, and began to write novels. Writing that, I prepared that way by using what I considered to be masterpieces at that time.
As the Dust Settles won the Fifth Mao Dun Literature Award
He is the only Tibetan writer to gain this honor to date
The novel has been translated into 16 languages
For what reason has it attracted people’s attention?
“One on One” Dong Qian exclusively interviews Tibetan writer Alai, in broadcast
Commentary 9: For the full-length novel As the Dust Settles written in 1994, Alai took 8 months to finish writing this fable-like literary work. From the perspective of an idiot son of a headman’s family, As the Dust Settles describes the history of the demise of the mysterious Tibetan headsman system. Alai uses vivid, unhurried, and refined language, to render the fated story of an idiot son of the last generation of headsmen, which has a certain supernatural tone. In 2001, As the Dust Settles won the Fifth Mao Dun Literature Award, in this year, Alai was 41 years old; he is the only Tibetan writer to gain this honor to date.
Reporter: For the daily life activities, customs, and including the religious beliefs, etc. of Tibetan compatriots, when using Chinese language to represent them, is it possible to be completely accurate, is it possible to remain authentic?
Alai: This is possible, however you principally go with the macro-thinking structure, it is already composed of Chinese language, because you acquire knowledge through it, because it is not as simple as the impressions of rural life originally relying on Tibetan language as the mother tongue. But today in the novel, because I have not given up Tibetan language, and I now often return to that kind of rural life, to allow myself some serenity, some rest. So when I’m writing novels, if I come across these kinds of questions, I can go back to Tibetan language and use it to think things through.
Reporter: You just said, to return to using Tibetan language to think, a way to exchange, it’s a kind of break for you.
Alai: Because it’s not that grandiose, it’s just directly connected to daily life, it doesn’t have that many anxieties. It doesn’t have so many considerations, confusions; it doesn’t have those kinds of things, because it is directly a prototype, related to life’s vital element. So I only have to write about some scenes, some appearances in the novel, when some appearances are very difficult to describe, if it’s difficult to express in Chinese language, or when it’s expressed but its particular feeling is lost, I go back to Tibetan language, I think a bit, if I use Tibetan language to express it, what would it be like? For example, in As the Dust Settles, the main character asks, what is love? He can’t answer, and then suddenly answers, love is the kind of feeling of bubbles inside your bones. In Chinese language, it would definitely find a more standard, more poetic expression. But he is a kind of thing that is even simpler, in between things. It looks for a similar kind of situation; it is all some parts. I use Tibetan language to think about some parts, then translate them into Chinese.
Reporter: When you want to use a Tibetan language method of thinking, when you translate it into Chinese, what kind of challenge does that pose?
Alai: Conversely, I see it more as a good thing, once you enter it, after you understand it, after you understand it, what kind of question is there? When I enter into Chinese language, Chinese language has this kind of richness, refinement, such a great expressiveness; even ordinary vocabulary has such a great expressiveness and penetrating power. This, I think, regarding this characteristic of Chinese language, I grasp it to a greater degree than even many of the Chinese writers of my generation.
Reporter: Why is this?
Alai: This is because I have another language to refer to; I have a comparison.
Alai: Perhaps a lot of Chinese writers are forever inside this linguistic context, and instead, don’t have this kind of reference and comparison. Especially our generation of writers, we’ve had a strong awareness since we were young, because I always had another language for comparison, that is the Chinese written language, its kind of richness, especially its refinement, its accuracy, and ability to express precisely. You can write with it. So to this day, I cannot use Tibetan language to write.
Reporter: Why is this?
Alai: Because spoken and written languages are two completely different systems, moreover, if I speak a little practically, perhaps if you let me study a language, I might study English, French, but not Tibetan written language.
Alai: Because Tibetan language also has an issue, which is, this language, since its creation, up through the last few centuries until the end of the 1950s, for the most part, it was a religious language used by monks, and wasn’t a language, a written language, that was shared by the entire populace to express all parts of our lives. So its expressions are limited, and so if you enter into this writing system, actually we don’t even have a real independent literary tradition, although maybe in Buddhist texts, in order to express the logic more vividly, it also has some methods of literary expression, but it doesn’t have independent literature. (Note: Tibet Web Digest recommend you to read Alai on Tibetan Language by Kyabchen Dedrol, another influential young writer who teaches Tibetan language and literature in Tibet.)
Commentary: From the first time it was published in 1998 up to today, As the Dust Settles has already been translated into 16 languages and published around the world. As the Dust Settles has also been filmed as a television series, which received high ratings.
Insert television series segment
Reporter: This kind of piece, why is it able to move people who aren’t of this kind of culture and place?
Alai: The most important thing is, while we can move other people, it’s still a person’s fate. Because in my conception of literature, I think that except for what we call individualist, we still seek some things we share with humanity, some simple things. Our feelings are the same, the basic circumstances we face, the ultimate circumstances are the same. Don’t we all get born, age, get sick, and die? Don’t we all love and hate? Even if we say there are some cultural differences, we just wear different clothes, eat different things, it’s just that we regard love and ways of looking at things a little differently. But in the end, faced with the ultimate, the ultimate impact on our development are still eight words “love, hate, kindness, enmity, birth, aging, sickness, death”, all people face these issues.
Reporter: If you don’t write, if one doesn’t live in this place, doesn’t understand the people of these cultures, can one still be able to know?
Alai: Perhaps they couldn’t know. Because people who don’t live in these areas don’t know, what is so peculiar about this culture is, sometimes people who live in the midst of this culture, they may not even know it.
Reporter: How can I understand this comment of yours?
Alai: It’s because, they just accept it as a habit, and later they don’t understand it in a rational way. Sometimes culture needs some… On one hand, our life is in the middle of a really strong inertia, this is the majority of people. But to detach oneself from this inertia, to observe how this inertia was produced, actually this is more or less a part of cultural research, but very few people will jump out of this role, to observe this thing. Moreover, especially when you talk about minority peoples’ culture, they may be characterized even more.