Roll up those taxi windows, drag your bags through security… this only comes every ten years. Beijing’s bitter wind welcomed 2270 delegates yesterday to shine their shoes and take their seats in a room booked for the “18th National Congress”. While the U.S. lets out its breath to enjoy another four years under Obama’s leadership, China prepares itself for a new president and premier (7 of the 9 current Politburo Standing Committee members are retiring this year). Xi Jinping, the likely candidate to replace President Hu Jintao, emphasized four main questions to be addressed at this year’s conference, namely: What flag will we wave? What path will we follow? And in what state of mind? To continue advancing towards what kind of goals? (我们党将举什么旗、走什么路、以什么样的精神状态、朝着什么样的目标继续前进) Specific, I know. Citizens wait eagerly to see what solutions the committee generates for problems like insufficient health care, inflated real estate, and the growing gap between the rich and poor. As news stations flash snippets of animated discussions over round mahogany tables, the mysterious lure of the national government grows in the eyes of the people. Local and provincial governments may be corrupt or unfair, but loyalty towards the national government is a tradition that stretches back thousands of years, born from the people’s innocent dependency and undying hope in a power that remains faceless. Just as religion presses followers to have faith in what they cannot see, a government too can round up millions of supporters if only by providing a mirage of hope.
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🙂