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Hailstone

Friday, June 5th, 2009

In the afternoon of the World Environment Day, the sky in Shanghai has gone almost completely black (brown?) at 3pm, and these little babies have fallen from the sky.

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In the same time,  many “Environment Day” squadrons were busy in the parks and beaches for the 1 hour long volunteer cleaning up activity. I hope they are all OK.  I’ve never seen the sky so dark.

Are the heavens complaining against a meaningless WED? Is it a sign, on 6/5, that the regime has lost its virtue ?  I let you figure that out, but please do not leave home without an umbrella.

Photo: Origin unknown (circulating on emails)

Journey to the West

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Some pictures of my recent travels in Shanxi & Shanxi. As with past editions, 5 words per picture. 

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The Shanxis have solid history Click to continue »

A fast changing country

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

“The country is changing so fast!” , this is one of the things I usually say back home  to explain why I find living in China so exciting. Today my street has changed very fast indeed.   Linder was lucky enough to spend the night in the garden, but other bikes where not so lucky. Inexorably engulfed by the waves of development.

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Click to continue »

The Shanghai Mounted Police

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

My anonymous friend N. has sent in this picture recently taken in an underground station in Shanghai Xuhui. It is a poster depicting a (Kazakh?) horseman riding with a baby just at the moment when a Shanghai policeman has engaged him in a vicious exchange of toothiness.

Government slogans are some of the phrases that I find most difficult to translate from Chinese, perhaps because they don’t usually make sense.  Anyway, here is my take:  “Policemen harmoniously build peace”. And the three sub-slogans on top:  “Penetrate the bases”,  “Penetrate reality”, “Penetrate the masses”.

Police PR campaign

Yeah, said like this, it sounds like something out of 1984, but that’s only if you are not used to Chinese government slogans. This is a PR campaign that has been done many times before in China. The objective is to show the police close to the people, as explained in this old article in the Xuhui district website.

We already saw some similar campaigns in late 2008, and more are sure to come this year, as the government takes every possible measure to avert risks of instability.

On the other hand, I am not sure how necessary this is. From my own observations, policemen here don’t have the bad image they have in some places in the West. They tend to be quite humble, they rarely use violence, and they get yelled at by the citizens they are supposed to protect. More than once I’ve had them visit my house at midnight, just to shyly ask us to please turn down the music and try to not let more people in if we don’t mind.

So  I have to say that, at least in Shanghai, the government has done a good job of managing police PR. Even I find it hard to believe that it is this same 公安 (police)  who arrests activists and bloggers,  the same who kicks villagers out of their old houses marked for destruction.

The Night of the Lanterns

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Last night I was going to stay in and write a long, thoughtful post. Instead I went out and took some pictures.

The first full moon marks the end of the New Year celebrations. It is called 元宵节, usually known in English as the Night of the Lanterns. Apart from the lanterns, there are also fireworks. And of course, like in every festival in China, there is a special thing to eat:  the 汤圆 or 元宵,AKA the sticky rice balls.

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I also captured some of the 牛Year’s 牛s,flashing bravely on Yunan Road.

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Below is a whole family of 牛s, looking Holy in their neon halo.

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More lamps. Have you noticed how the paper lamps, with their older technology, actually decorate the streets much better than neon strings? Ancient Chinese were smart. Homeland Christmas decorators: take note.

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And one last for the little Chinese street guitar session.

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The Rules of the Green Administration

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

This is a bit of a silly post, I know, and I’m sure it has been done before. But I had to do it anyway. Yesterday I finally remembered to take a picture of my favourite sign in Shanghai, the Rules of the Green Administration Bureau.

It is the one that prohibits feudal behaviours, expects visitors not to shit, strictly bins comping, gawbling and gombing, and generally limits, with a rich variety of forbidding synonyms - existing or invented-  all the favourite Sunday activities of us mental patients escaped from custody.

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You can still find these signs in most parks, even in central locations like People’s Square. Note they are collectable items, each park provididing a new variation on the theme with different combinations of letters. They will probably dissapear sometime in the next 500 days of Expo countdown, so let this be a last tribute.

And since we are at it, I will post some more of the great sign watching session we had yesterday in Luxun Park. This park is absolutely recommended for a Sunday stroll, it contains one of the highest concentrations of culture and local life in the city. It sparkles like pearls from Heaven. Really Splendid.

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Around the center of the park there is a little house which, on one of its four sides, has been decorated to look like a romantic Greek Villa. It is a haven of romantic notions.

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And one can’t help but wonder: what would nearby poet Petofi have to say of all this?

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But you need not worry. If you didn’t like the poem, there are many more to be read on the Greek corner at Luxun. My favourite is the one below: “Romantic Person”. And the best of all is: It is served Daily!

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And now, here’s the riddle of the day. The first one to guess it will win an exclusive 6 month VIP membership to Chinayouren:  Name the original greek myth that inspired the poem “Romantic Person”. (No cheating with google!)

Leave your answer below.

Fujian in just 5 Words

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Here is the illustrated report of our Fujian trip. Today I present some clear symptoms of blogorrhea after my 5 day internet abstinence. So we’ll try to keep it ruly and live up to my Bull Year’s resolutions. I am applying the special astringent potion: Max 5 words per picture. The rest in your imagination: 一切尽在不言中.

Every village had a church


热闹 means Hot and Noisy!

The temples were 热闹

The faithful like burning stuff

The mosque was less 热闹

Love Church was not 热闹

Beach of the Grande Jatte

No! Muslims don’t eat porc

We met an electric fisherman

Administration + Participation = Administpation

Hate those noisy cracker vandals

Shooting and Bumpers: Safety first

Ming Walled Chongwu is Magnetic

Let’s get chicken at EFC’s!

No! my chicken at CBC’s!

Ah, finally: it’s a KFC’s!

Macdonalds + Kentucky’s = Mac-Ken-Ji’s !!

Mac-Ken-Ji’s: Children’s playground, Grandpa’s shrine

Fairy houses made of seashells

发展 wave engulfs the past

Model Street Award: Zero Imitations

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My polos always at Coddle’s

Model Workers Instruction: Model Street

The Fat of the Land

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

I know I shouldn’t be linking the same source all the time, but since I got my new coded connection I have rediscovered the Time China Blog and I just can’t get my eyes off it. Check out this picture of the rich corn fields in Ningxia in their last post by Lin Yang. After the recent avalanche of crisis articles, this must be the most heartening piece of info I have seen in weeks.

In her message, Lin Yang explains how, during their holiday trip to the native land, they were surprised to see the prosperity of the Ningxia farmlands, where 30 years earlier they had known trickier times. Obviously this is not a scientific study, and I don’t know if the situation applies to all farms or all parts of the province. But I am happy to see that, for once, the Good Earth is bringing prosperity to her children. Consider this paragraph:

It is hard work though. It usually takes a couple of years to break new land, and Wang spent the last two decades acquiring the 50 acres he has now. The family grows mostly corn, but also vegetables and melons (a local specialty). Last year the harvest was 200,000kg. In fact, over the years Ningxia has gained the reputation as Hong Kong’s vegetable basket, and migrant workers have been returning to the west to pick up their old trade.

This is a tribute to the patience and hard work of the men and women of the land. Madoff and all the band of crooks in Wall Street, the conceited Shanghai sharks and vain princesses who look down on immigrant workers, they can read this when they sit, in a few months time,  wondering how they lost their jobs. And perhaps some of them should be sent to labour the Ningxia fields and learn what honest work feels like. That would be a way to make something useful of the old reeducation camps.

Popcorn Doomsday Scenario

In parallel to this, I have conducted some research as to the probability of a meterorite falling on the farm of the picture at the moment when the 200,000kg harvest is out for collection. I am reassured to see it is rather unlikely, for it would mean the end of civilization as we know it, and the beggining of a new sweet glaciation era  in which the planet would be covered by a floating cloud of hot, delicious pop-corn.

OK, yeah, I admit my hypothesis today are a bit wonkish, like the economists like to say. But what do you want, this is another panda-eyed Saturday morning, and the electric coolie I called in to fix the air-con is hovering around me all the time. It is freezing. Not easy to concentrate in these conditions.