One day, the four of us decided to take a trip to the man-made hill behind the Forbidden City called Jingshan Gongyuan. The hill is actually made from the dirt dug out from the moat around the Forbidden City. The surrounding park is great place to play games such as shuttlecock, badminton, and "paddles" (we don't know the actual name of this particular game, where two players use wooden paddles to hit a feathered birdie back and forth).
At a specific spot near the base of the hill, Dad and I always play badminton. After several minutes of playing, a man came over and asked if he could play. We said, "Of course!" So he picked up a racket and he and I began.
The next thirty minutes were a blur. I could barely return any of his shots. He started out at an incredibly fast pace, serving, smashing, and volleying so quickly that I could barely see his racket. Next to his shots, mine looked like weights flying through the air in slow motion.
At some point, he realized that I could barely keep up. Even with him slowing down a little, my mind was filled with, "watch the birdie," "smash it," "forehand," backhand," and so on. I was only aware of the man, the birdie, and me.
After maybe ten minutes of playing at a "slower" pace, I began to get comfortable with his techniques, and so he once again began to hit it a little harder and a little faster. I am still amazed at how he could slam the birdie toward me extremely fast with seemingly little or no effort.
Now, by this time, I was able to return several of his shots at a time. Now and then it even looked as though I might have scored a point. Because of the man's skill, I nearly jumped for joy every time I returned a shot.
After what seemed to be years, he decided that he was ready to take a break. We both walked back to our families, drenched in sweat. He had a drink and then walked over to hand me back my racket. As he walked away, I was startled and amazed at