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In Conversation with Daolang - By Editor Xinjie, 21 December 2012
   中


 
A beaming Daolang
I was embarrassingly late for the appointment and was talking to Feigang for some minutes when he walked in with his assistants.  I stood up instantly, a wide smile spreading across my face and went forward holding out my two hands to him.  “Xinjie,” he took both my hands and smiled too. It was a warm firm grasp and I sort of led him to the seats where I was waiting for him in this hotel suite. Daolang the singer-songwriter-musician whose hit song <2002 1st Snow’> released in Jan 2004 resonated throughout China and then the outside world, is unassuming in his manner, yet I could feel that his presence is very much respected by people around him.

Soon after, slim, beautiful Xiaomei 小梅 walked in too. She’s known as a lady with a big heart, capable of taking things in her stride as Daolang’s wife, admirably so when women fans swarmed around her husband unabashedly, some even declaring endearment.  
 
I must declare too that I have been a Daolang fan since August 2005 (read more)
Editor Xinjie with Daolang
but on this day it is in the capacity as editor of this Website that I was talking to a still-bearded Daolang without his cap, and Xiaomei,at 7pm,in the cold, cold winter night with outside temperature at -27°C in Urumqi, Xinjiang, one night after the concert.
 
To Daolang and Xiaomei, Xinjie in all these past 8 years by now is no longer a stranger, nor just a fan.  Hence the conversation took place light-heartedly, informally with no specific topic, nor tough questions to ask, especially since this is a first such meeting for Daolang and me.
 
Daolang appeared to have just been roused from a nap, although his hair didn’t seem ruffled, He looked tired in some sort of way but understandably so since just hours ago he was at the celebration dinner after a 4½ hour concert, which went on till sometime after 4am. Yes he was without his signature cap – and this confirms that this is the way he is off-stage, and not bald like some nasty passing remarks. In fact, he wasn’t at all self-conscious without it. The cap, as he had explained in the early days when interviewed by the media, that it was an item easily available then that he used to appear first time at Zhang Yimou’s gala show in July 2004, after his successful ‘snow’ album shot him to everyone’s attention. He had it on ever since whenever he is on public engagement, seemingly a conscious effort to separate his private self to that of Daolang the public figure.
  
Xiaomei and I sat on either side of him

Xiaomei and I sat on either side of him. With no special lightings, no media presence, no mouth piece on him, he was relaxed and he talked easily. He said to me : ( 新姐,我放心 ) With Xinjie, I’m not worried。 These words put me at ease, in part due to having met him in person no less than 12 times since 2006, and even got to hug him a few times.
 
Speaking in a tone as delightful as his singing voice, Daolang recalled being irked by the media attention during the early days of success and was annoyed when the press misquoted him. Invitations to all kinds of events, some obligated some not, came pouring in even to this day, Daolang shaking his head as he said so. Xiaomei nodded her head, saying “… and we had to turn down so many of them.” She knows as she is the one handling the correspondences. I was actually feeling relief on hearing this as in China, to socialize is to drink heartily, something not quite obligated here in Singapore, I told him. Still, having read about him, Daolang is known for his preference to keep a low profile, someone who would rather focus on his family and music. So I wasn’t surprised.
 
“Between writing music and having concert tours, I’d rather be writing….” Daolang continued, “but for Feigang’s sake, I obliged.” Feigang, who confessed to be a fan of Daolang too, invested and work hard to get him exposures and recognitions as much as possible. He is now in USA (at time of writing) to clinch deals for Daolang to revisit that part of the world, where he is a well-loved personality known to the Chinese community there. It would mean Daolang has to fly – posing quite a challenge for him. At the previous night’s concert, one part of the singing where he was to be elevated to a certain height, he
Feigang aka Feizong 费总
had uttered ‘Not too high, I have phobia of height …” Here now he was saying again, “If I have a choice to drive or to fly, I’d rather drive.” “Recite mantra,” I had advised. Yes he would and nodded. For me personally, I’d always imagine a white light enveloping the whole plane as it takes off keeping it safe in the air, reciting ‘Om Mani Padme Hum…’ at the same time.
 
Indeed when he was raised up in the air to sing the song < 孩子她妈 Mother of My Child>.it must have been a feat for him. While talking about it, especially in reference to 筐筐 his elder daughter by his first wife, Kuang Kuang’s posting on her weibo after the concert, his eyes welled up, and he had to wipe the tears away. It’s a subject still sensitive to him. To finally be able to sing this song makes it a greater feat in comparison both for him and his daughter. Xiaomei and I could feel the personal helplessness of this man before us. That all is well now for this extended family as revealed in the posting, the subject was dropped without regret.
 
It was interesting to note that when the subject changed to talking about his music, he perked up immediately. From his laid back position, he came forward and placed his hands on the table much like someone eager to present a proposal, his eyes twinkling this time, hands gesturing. He said since many years ago he has a desire to want to write on Xinjiang, to let more people know about Xinjiang, which requires a specialist knowledge of its history. To do that, he would need at least five years in a quiet, undisturbed atmosphere dedicated to this task. 
 
At one point during the conversation, Feigang came over to place a packet of cigarettes and lighter on our table. My eyes fixed on it and wondered if it was for Daolang.  I had read about him giving up smoking many years ago. I certainly hope it was true but the smoking culture amongst men in China in my observation seems formidable.  People around him smoke almost non-stop, alas! Daolang however didn’t touch it.
 
Daolang disclosed he was in Singapore in April after the Hong Kong concert, to visit a friend of Xiaomei. When I protested at the revelation that I missed out showing him places, he said that was just what he didn’t want, troubling  anyone.  In any case I can’t imagine that happening to me at that time, though I’d love to very much. Describing Singapore as a clean, disciplined place, people queuing without being told, including people smoking at designated areas – it
 















I have 4 CDs brought over from Singapore for him to autograph, a favor for a Singapore fan



was he said only then did he realized just how awful cigarette smells are when passing by the designated smoking areas. He also mentioned enjoying having 排骨茶 Ba Kut Teh by a riverside.  Clark Quay? Boat Quay?  I shall keep that in mind when he next visit or hold a concert here in Singapore in the future, haha.
 
It was probably during this time that I remembered I have 4 CDs brought over from Singapore for him to autograph, a favor for a Singapore fan, and to have pictures taken of this meeting.  Xiaotang 小棠 , his young assistant stepped in to help take the photos but not before Daolang instinctively asked for a cap and a jacket to put on. My camera was no idiot-proof, and in not wanting to use flash irritating the subjects, a number of the pictures taken turned out blurred.  They are however still worth viewing as it showed a Daolang most relaxed with Xiaomei by his side. One request from fans in the hotel before I came over was for tickets to attend the Awat County Music and Dance Nite in which he was to sing 2 songs, the next day 22 December. Feigang happily consented and I was able to bring back the good news, although by then I would be on the plane flying home. One more request from a fan friend was to ‘hug’ him on her behalf which I happily did so most readily and was rewarded with a photo I’m so proud of.


Xiaomei said,
“One day when  I become old and  ugly, I know Luolin  will not leave me.”

 


Then it was time to leave in order not to deny Daolang his rightful rest after a taxing performance just hours ago.  Xiaomei offered to drive me back to the hotel. As we made our way out passing by a sofa, it then crossed my mind that Yunduo 云朵 who was sitting on it when I stepped into the suite’s entrance earlier on and had given her a hug before sitting down with Feigang at the table inside the lounge, was the one person I had wanted to meet and talk to too but who had probably quietly excused herself this time round.
 
It was a slow drive back to the hotel due to the road condition during winter. This enabled us to have a lengthy conversation inside the car. It was a ride as memorable as meeting Daolang a while ago, for Xiaomei shared with me bits and pieces of life in the Luo family; I could feel her love and concern for her husband and the deep respect she has also for his first wife, Kuang Kuang’s mother. I had long admired Xiaomei’s big-heartedness and had thought there must be a strong reason for Daolang to write <Thanking You 谢谢你> dedicated to her first before presenting to the fans. Listening to her now I agree without hesitation she certainly deserves the honor more than the fans in keeping the family together. An interesting trait of this great man was told by her of how she was to learn through the years to finally leave him alone to do his music no matter how long the hours he had been at it, to not disturb him even when it was meal time, to just leave the food tray in the room for him and not even asking how things are at all. Her concern in those days were not appreciated which inevitably resulted in much unhappiness. That was just how immersed he is in his work
.
By the time I got down from the car, we are like two women sworn to protect the great interest of this talented man who has a mind of his own, who has given so much love to his fans. ‘I’m his fan too’, Xiaomei said, and the most lucky too because she's always the first person to get to listen to Daolang's every piece of new creation.  I believe her and felt the closeness all at once with her. When I reached my hotel room, a look at the time showed past 9...... Thanks Daolang, thanks to Xiaomei, Feizong. Hope to meet Yunduo next!
* * * * * *

 
 
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