It was dark, and most people were home cooking their meals, cleaning up, washing clothes, helping their kids with homework. I know this because I watched them through the window of the slow-moving bus. It was early summer, already very hot there on the Tropic of Cancer. There was no air-conditioning except in fancy restaurants and hotels for foreigners, some stores, so people lived outside. Not that it was cooler outside, but there was a little fresh air.
The bus windows opened from the top and were down as far as they went. The sounds of the street mingled with the vision through the windows. From time to time I caught a glimpse of my own reflection.
A man in a sleeveless white cotton T-shirt (something all of us wore under our shirts to let perspiration do its job on a hot day) stood fanning himself as he cooked green vegetables in a wok nestled in the curved top of a terra-cotta charcoal stove.
I suddenly saw China, the world outside the bus windows, as a show through which I was carried by the bus. It was only a short step of thought to see life the same way.