One of my best friends from childhood recently relocated with his family to China. Emails are few and far between and it seems he rarely gets any sent from those of us in the U.S. of A. Could it be because they contain, uh, 'subversive' material? However, perhaps thanks to those who are foiling Beijing's cyber cops, contact has been made and news from Our Man in Shanghai has come through! In addition to the proliferation of automobiles in the Sleeping Giant (a truly frightening concept, given the effect capitalist car exhuast has had on the enviroment already), Wal-Marts and other mega-malls are springing up like bright yellow plastic flowers all over the tomato red landscape. The revolution may not be televised but QVC sure will be. Richard Nixon must be dancing the victory solo from "Red Detachment of Women" in his grave!
Direct from "Red" China (names deleted to protect international paychecks):
Happy 85th Anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party! (on July 1). The high rise mall near our apartment has placed a huge hammer & sickle at their entrance--to entice the shoppers I guess. There are, of course, significantly more shoppers than Communists here now. The big shopping news is that Shanghai is shutting down the giant knock off market, Xiang Yang. Damn, where will I get my pirated Dolce & Gabbana shirts? Fortunately, pirate DVD sellers are on every corner. For 10 kuai ($1.25) you can buy a DVD of any movie before it's even released in theatres in the US. Of course, the sound track may include the guy coughing next to the secret theater recorder. Where are they recording things, Cannes?
We had a classic cultural disconnect the other night. The CENSORED of the CENSORED invited my wife, me and the kids out for a "thank you for CENSORED" dinner. It started well enough; typical Chinese style meal with the communal dishes placed on the Lazy Susan where you can pick and choose without too much attention. Then it happened. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a line of waiters heading toward our tables with individual plates. With a flourish placed before each of us was the largest poultry foot I have ever seen. I dare not look at the wife or the children, but I imagined frozen smiles and eyes opened wide in panic. I knew I was going have to bite the bullet, so to speak, for the family and dug into mine. I still have no idea what it was. The kids say it was a duck foot because they detected webbing. I can guarantee you they did not get close enough to it for species identification. They, of course, were suddenly full "couldn't eat another bite;" but full of waste not/want not platitudes "this will be delicious warmed up for lunch tomorrow." To top it off, when we left the restaurant we passed a traditional Chinese shop selling dried bats on a stick.
I WAAAAAANT ONE!!!!!!!!
photo by CENSORED