Beijing Dances to the Rhythm of Bollywood

Beijing Dances to the Rhythm of Bollywood

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BEIJING - It is difficult to believe there were ever any tensions between India and China. On the eve of Premier Wen Jiabao's state visit to India, as we spoke to a handful of the few thousand Indians settled in China and asked them what they thought was the best thing about living in the country, the warmth and goodwill exuded by the Chinese were a clear winner.

Sumi Seissinger, editor and managing director of Dalian Today Publications, recalled being gently goaded into a round of ballroom dancing by a wrinkled old stranger in Dalian, who guided her like an expert dance master.

Rajendra Iyer remembered when he worked as a site manager on the Three Gorges Dam, he stayed in Yichang, Hubei province, where the hotel's lobby manager would go out of her way to make sure his stay was comfortable.

After he once asked for some drinking water, she had a substantial fish tank delivered to his room.

An idea or two can become lost in translation when India and China speak to each another, but it is important to keep talking.

This is the overriding sentiment of corporate executives, entrepreneurs and professionals in China, most of whom have lived here for extended periods and have no immediate plans to return home.

Seema Ahmed, who has taught Bollywood dancing in Beijing for three years, is pleased to be able to observe "the tremendous development taking place".

She said she is also excited to see power shift from the West to the East, which she described as "being a part of history in the making".

Abhisekh Vaidya, 37, arrived in Chongqing a decade ago to work for a Swiss enterprise and has since founded his own company, Nelscorp, which develops innovative IT-backed solutions for multinational organizations.

He is currently setting up an e-commerce venture and already has a presence on taobao.com.

Despite the rising inflation and the appreciation of the yuan, Vaidya is optimistic about the future.

He hopes Wen's visit will open doors, so that both economies can further build on their mutually beneficial relationship.

Shanghai-based journalist and documentary filmmaker Bivash Mukherjee would like the meeting between the two national leaders to go beyond politics and business.

"There are some brilliant writers, poets, artists and intellectuals on both sides of the Himalayas," he said.

Both Mukherjee and Ahmed are moved by the emerging powers taking a unified stand on issues such as climate change, though Mukherjee said they should be aware that "they do not speak the language of the West".

The idea that greater understanding and cooperation between the two countries could create a strong regional power strikes many as an exciting prospect.

"China looks at India, which is on the verge of an infrastructural boom, as an enormous market for its expertise in this area," Iyer said.

In return, he added, India should take this opportunity to strengthen its business presence in China and seek solutions to its trade balance.