It’s the 61st Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (National Day or 国庆节). Partayyy! That’s what it was in Tiananmen Square. Cotton candy, corn on the cob, massive floral displays, and… multi-colored plastic devil horn headbands. I have yet to discover their significance. But in essence, the mood on the square tonight resembled that of our Fourth of July. It was unfortunately (or fortunately) not the security-ridden atmosphere that I’d previously conjured up in my mind. Perhaps last year when China rounded its sixth decade the mood was a bit more conflicted, but I doubt it. All the controversial censorship, arrests, and injustices that plague the foreign press coverage on China feel like bitter annoyances when you stare into the crisp, glistening characters on two giant flat screens that illuminate messages of technological success, economic progress and a harmonious society. There is no looming sense of dissatisfaction here but one of overwhelming pride. After all, tonight’s square wasn’t empty but bustling with a smiling crowd snapping photos of their kids posing with Chinese flags and peace signs. And in the end, what’s not to be proud of? All the bad aside, because every country has its dark side, China’s unprecedented growth in the last twenty years is not to be taken lightly. Recognizing the pressures experienced in the past from both within its borders and abroad we might make rational sense not only of China’s rapid economic development but also of its political system. Of course there are many problems left to tackle here, but every citizen deserves a day to honor and rejoice in the successes of the country they live in.
This week, like any week, was full of random tidbits that make life interesting. To give you an idea:
-I was told by my Chinese teacher that my whispy laugh sounds like I’m swearing in Chinese and that I should probably change the habit asap.
-I’ve started to drink Chinese herbal medicine every day just because it tastes freaking good.
-I tried to use The Who’s “My Generation” to teach my 12-year-old student the meaning of “generation”. Unfortunately, you can’t really understand what they’re saying.
-I dipped a fried bun into what I thought was a communal bowl of vinegar while out to dinner with friends of a friend. As the bread proceeded to crumble into the bowl, I looked up to find a line of perplexed expressions crumbling along with it. Apparently creating your own personal dipping bowl is what’s up…
-I got up at 6:00 am to go for a leisurely run in the park only to discover that old men will run to the brink of exhaustion and death before allowing me to pass them.
-I made pancakes and bacon with a fruit salad, coffee, and orange juice for breakfast and instantly felt at home. I also spent the equivalent of three days of Chinese meals buying ingredients. 😦 $$$$$——
-As of Monday, I have officially eaten every part of a pig except its eyes and bones.
-I spent 20 solid minutes bargaining for a dress. Methods ranged from claiming I’m a poor college student to reviewing the store’s sales records to see how much other customers paid. They said no one’s ever bargained so long and were glad to see me leave.
-My coworker gifted me a dead but beautiful butterfly.
-I saw a snail as big as the palm of my hand.
-I stood in a line for half an hour for something unknown simply because the line was so long I figured it must be worth it. Turned out to be freshly roasted chestnuts 🙂