India, June 20 -- I have met dozens of great and famous men, but very few were as impressive and refined as Chou.

I arrived in Peking (not yet Beijing) in early July 1956 to take up my post as third secretary. I was 25 years of age. China of the time was an underdeveloped country, but with a strong government and formidable leadership, with Mao Tse Tung as the undisputed head.

My main task was to learn the language, which had no alphabets and four tones. A tutor was employed to teach me, what is the most difficult language in the world. It is also one of the oldest.

I used to get up at 7 am and drive to Peking University in my Volkswagen, a 40-minute journey. All my teachers spoke only Chinese. To begin with I was completely at sea. A...