Pied Piper from China
He speaks the language of music, and with his dizi (Chinese flute) Qian Lan has travelled to 40 countries, playing his music and accumulating friends.
He defines music as an international language that bridges differences between people. Qian was in Nepal recently as a tourist and played at a few informal occasions. An English teacher in China for 12 years, he learned to play the flute when he was nine. However, it was only after he heard a professional flautist over the radio at the age of 12 that he felt the magic of music.
“I practised along to his tune to better myself, and have not looked back since,” said this 47-year-old musician from Shanghai.
Having heard him play at a recent Wildlife Conversation Nepal function held in the Capital, it is difficult to believe he has no formal training.
Ever eager to travel abroad, his love for dizi was strengthened when he found appreciation in Australia, the first foreign country he visited at the age of 29.
“People liked Chinese music very much as it was very new to them. They found it soothing and soulful.”
It was here that he got the inspiration “to play on the streets”.
“In the West you have this culture of playing on the streets and get some donations from passing appreciators. In the East, we don’t have this culture and people often find it very funny,” he explained.
He loves performing in front of an audience as Qian believes that unless you perform in front of an audience, you never improve.
“My experience has shown that while performing for audience, you are more careful and dedicated,” he said adding that his music revolves around the themes of love, dedication, beauty, and harvesting.
In a surprising revelation, Qian said he has enjoyed playing more in the “third-world” countries. According to him, people in these countries are more open, warm, hospitable, concerned and chat along with you more.
“I visited both America and Mexico, but enjoyed playing in the latter much more. I don’t mean rich countries are bad, just that people there are busy, very very busy to appreciate you more,” he shared.
About Nepal and her people he said, “Nepali people may not be rich, but they are very friendly and one of the happiest lot I have come across in my travels so far. They sit outside their homes, in temple vicinities and chat for long hours. I have never seen people enjoying themselves like this in other countries.” He feels that travelling around the world has given him a strength of mind and knowledge and even urged “all Nepalis to travel”. He will be travelling to Pakistan from China very soon. And there is a big “Oh yes!” when asked if he will play formally for Nepali audience in the coming days. As he plays his dizi along the streets of Thamel and heads turn, one feels that the Nepali audience will also receive him with much enthusiasm.