Saturday, January 28, 2006

28 January 2006 The Daily Dosage

I've done New Year's Eves in other countries before, but nothing quite this loud! Shanghai, China, on the eve of the Lunar New Year, 2006, the 'Year of the Dog!' Wow and a 'bow!'

The only other time I can remember this many 'explosions' was Viet Nam, 1964! I don't think I've ever seen/heard this kind of fireworks display right outside my window (here on the 23 rd floor at 277 Dong Tai Road).

I just returned from having a lovely New Year's Eve dinner at Mrs. Zhao's grandmother's apartment—traditional dumplings.

I had first thought grandmother's apartment might be in an old-style 2, 3-story building, kinda small, kinda dingy. Wrong again! This was on the 13th (my lucky number) floor in a high-rise building, whose square meters sell for some incredible amount of money (whether that be Yuan or dollars). Rich wooden floors, dark wood furniture, a modern kitchen! In fact, this apartment might be in Amsterdam, or New York City! And complete with washing machine and maid's quarters.

Young son, Stephanie's uncle, one of three boys and one girl (the daughter living in Chicago) has done well in 'Futures!' He bought the apartment for grandmother.

It's interesting you me, history, economic systems, how China has changed since I first saw it forty years ago. I was trying to explain to Stephanie, born in 1979, the same year Deng Xiaopeng awakened the 'sleeping Dragon!' He was quoted as saying, 'I can distribute poverty, or I can distribute wealth!' He distributed abundance! If only he hadn't unleashed the Chinese Army in Tianmmon Square in 1989, I would revere this guy! Certainly he is the 'Father of Modern China!' But, such is history, governments, the ideology and means they use to get control of the masses!

Governments of any kind of persuasion are just a smaller group controlling a larger group for fun and profit! Call it democracy, monarchy, Communistic, Socialistic, whatever, they're all the same!

One hundred years ago China was in disarray… What a Century for them, the 20th: the last 'Dynasty,' feudalism, wars, Communism (scarcity), and now a free market economy that's soaring… All in one hundred years! No wonder everyone's smiling here in Shanghai (at least)! At least, most are smiling! With the free market comes extremes, the very rich and the very poor! What to do?

If I were 'King,' or 'president,' or 'dictator,' or… I'd encourage the entrepreneurs at the same time taking care of the less fortunate! Seems to me that's the responsibility of the enlightened! Who said anything about governments being enlightened!

After dinner we watched the New Year's Eve show on CCTV1, a tradition, their version of the 'Times Square Show,' in the U.S. But, what a production! I was impressed with the opening number! I can't wait for the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing 08! Wow! I can only imagine!

China's exploding literally and figuratively!

I'm glad I'm here and partaking! While America slides down the slippery slope into oblivion, China's five stars are rising!

The only 'blimp on the Chinese radar screen,' to me at least, is over population!

Today in the food market is an example of 'too many rats in a cage' syndrome! I thought I was going to have to 'speak up' on my behalf. I'm a nice mild-mannered guy until riled, then watch out! I've been known to do some strange things! I think today I spoke English out loud (this gets their attention, noting the inflection of my voice they stepped away. How you say 'it,' is sometimes more important than 'what!'). I also did my little 'dance/chant' when they started bumping into me (in line)! Acting 'weird,' usually is all you need to do to have people start moving away from you!

Yesterday, Bhuwan and I ended up all over Shanghai trying to buy me a RR ticket from Uremqi to Kashi. Well, guess what you can't. But, on the way back I walked right into the jacket I've been looking for all the time I've been here (five weeks). Amazing! I actually got two jackets (one is a fleece liner) for 140 Yuan. That's $15 U.S. In the U.S. this would cost $250 U.S. What's more I like it (large enough)! This called, 'Guaizhinu' made in Korea (I think). We'll see, only with use can you really tell about garments. If it turns out well, I'll 'sing' their praises! Right now I'm cursing another outdoor gear company, this one in the U.S.!

Ever heard of Marmot, of California, U.S.A.? I bought their rain shell at REI in Colorado more than two years ago! This garment, made in Thailand. I mean what do they know in Thailand about making 'performance' clothing? I've cursed Marmot many times over the past two years! Besides the zippers, that always lock on the rain strip, and the poorly designed hood, now the interior 'rubberized,' layer is deteriorating! So, I'm sending it back, all the way to Santa Rosa, California.

Who knows, maybe they'll give me a new one! For these light-weight 'shells' are good to cycle in. This one did repel both the wind and the rain! But, the hood, how mis-designed! The zipper… Every time I try to zip it up it gets caught in the lining!

Garment companies… Ah, if only they would pre-test what they manufacture, they'd please more customers. Instead, all they think about is making whatever attractive enough to sell (the ole 'bottom line, of course). Too bad if it doesn't live up to its billing! The price of this Marmot, piece-of-shit shell,' at REI in CS 2.5 years ago, $130U.S.

Yesterday, on my way out of Mr. Zhao's office (#2306) with Bhuwan, we boarded the elevator with some anglo-looking people (unusual in this building). Immediately they started speaking in what I thought was 'Russian.' I told Bhuwan, which they overheard. 'No, no!' they replied in English! I said 'hello' in Russian, but they're not from Russian, nor can speak it. Turns out they're Bulgarian! But, even more amazing to me they're operating a modeling agency right next door in 2308!! Of course, I'm going to go have a chat! I managed to remember the Capitol of Bulgaria… Do you know…? It means 'wisdom,' in Greek!

Think about it… Bulgarians, speaking English, operating a modeling agency in Shanghai, China! How 'wise' is this…?

I'm on my way to Xinjiang on Monday… This after five weeks in Shanghai, China, and two years into our 'Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailas!'

It was two years ago this very week that Rose (Phyllis Rock) blessed me with, 'The light is with you, the light is within you!' I was on my way to Minneapolis on the bus, and then a flight to Norway, via Iceland—ultimately to live in Sweden (first phase of the Pilgrimage)! This at the end of January, 2004! No wonder the flight to Norway was inexpensive! How many people are stupid enough to visit Iceland and Norway in the middle of winter? I did!

But, the bus ride… Arduous! And my God, it was colder in Minneapolis, that Iceland or Norway, I think something like –19F the morning we pulled into frozen Minneapolis. I remember my Nepali friend, Rajan Devkota, picked me up and drove me to his house for a Dhal bhat!

I remember the flight to Iceland as restful, as I got to stretch out in three seats and sleep!

But, Reykjavik, where I'd been in 1972, for ABC (Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky chess match), was too early and too cold. The new airport some fifty kilometers west of R., a long ride, but after the nice Iceman allowed me to leave my luggage in the baggage room (until tomorrow's flight). Then a hotel in the dark, where I had a pot of tea for $8 U.S.

Warmed and somewhat awake I walked through Reykjavik to the Hostel where I was to spend the night. Note, the deal on the cheap ticket required me to spend a night in R. I maybe ten kilometers, it so cold I had to stop in stores and warm up every several hundred meters!

I finally got to the Hostel, but too early (something like 0800). It was full of teenagers departing on a bus. They made me wait to check in… Exhausted from travelling for 36 hours I fell asleep in a chair.

Being so far north, 61 degrees north latitude, the sun doesn't peek over the horizon (in the south) until 1000, and then disappears by 1400 ( 2P.M.). In that four hours the sun, so weak at that angle, gives such a strange tinge to the land. I'll never forget it, the light, wondering how anyone could possible survive the winter there. It's not the cold so much, as the lack of sun light.

I wandered around taking photographs with my disposable camera (check out at I couldn't afford dinner in a restaurant, opting for hot tea. I bought some snacks in a market.

Later, I went to bed in a 'common' room with three 'bunk' beds. Yet, it cost almost $40U.S. I was desperately short of money, having to try both plastic cards, before one worked! In the middle of the night a man walked in, turned the light on awakening me, but then he slipped into bed quietly, another guest. But, the room was cozy and the water hot!

I began this 'Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailas,' on a wing and a prayer, and Rose's blessing! When you have 'the light,' you don't need much else! I shall always be grateful for that blessing!

And now here I am in Shanghai, China, observing the most incredible pyrotechnic display I've ever seen, and right outside my window! Loud!

Asia is loud! They invented gunpowder; thus fireworks! And tonight, on the Eve of the 'Year of the Dog,' they're 'barking' very loudly!

Bring on the Dog, the new moon! In two days, I'm outta here! Back to 'God's Country!' No, not Colorado, but Xinjiang Province!

Happy New Year!


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10:19 AM  

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