Chinese Phrase of the Day: 少年派的奇幻漂流
(shao4 nian2 pai4 de qi2 huan4 piao1 liu2 “young Pai’s fantastic drift about”) = Chinese title for “Life of Pi”
Wang Tao is a Father
Many students and teachers here will remember Wang Tao (Simon Wang), a student of mine a few years ago. He graduated and joined the executive work force. I was honoured to be asked to officiate at his wedding last year. And now he is a father.
We picked up this snuggly yesterday at our supermarket, and I was happy to learn that they hadn’t yet bought one. Babies all love to be carried in a snuggly like this one. It’s a great way to sooth them when they are fussing. So today we met Simon at a different Starbucks, the one in Bao Li plaza near the train station. It was great to visit with him, and to share his excitement over becoming a father. It was also very interesting to learn about the club for new mothers his wife will live in for the next month. They have twenty-four hour nursing help, exercise rooms, a spa, and lessons on how to care for an infant, a complete support system. Simon will sleep there with his wife. The babies are taken away at night to a separate room and cared for by a nurse, so the new parents actually get some sleep. What a civilized way to live.
A Visit From Panda
Always wonderful to have Panda come and stay with us for a couple of days.
On a sadder note, there is still desperation and despair in our world and every once in a while somebody decides to put it on display. We were on our way to Hui Shan ancient village when we passed a traffic jam. A crowd had gathered to watch this drama unfold.
I have to wonder what it must feel like to be the centre of all this attention at a time when you are obviously not feeling great about life. Simon told us today that this is becoming very common. Apparently workers come here from the country side. If their employer does the paperwork and documents their work, they have to pay benefits and taxes to the government and provide health insurance. Workers are willing to work with no documentation in exchange for more money. And this is fine unless something goes wrong and the business won’t or can’t pay them Then they are out of luck and desperate to get some government attention. Perhaps that is what is happening in this situation.
And yes, it is not just my imagination. Bicycle helmets are becoming almost common here. Early adopters are setting the style trend. These bicycle riders paused briefly to see what the fuss was about. Every time I see bike riders wearing helmets, a sight unseen during our first six years in China, I think about all the times I gave speeches to promote bike helmets and predicted that in a few years they would become common. I would tell the audience that when that day comes they should remember me. I always wonder whether they will.Did he eventually come down, or did he jump. I’ll never know. We didn’t wait to find out.
The Chair Maker
Every once in a while we see something here that looks like old China, the hand crafted, hard working, non-industrial China.
I imagine this kind of work can be quite satisfying. I’d like to learn how to do it. Far more useful than making bull whips.
Yes, it’s Merry Christmas all the way here. And that’s just fine by me. I love Christmas. My favourite time of year, except for Spring of course.
The Christmas music plays non-stop now, following us from Starbucks to the shopping malls with no apparent change of play list. It all makes me just a little homesick. Sigh.
Another Night at the Cinema – Life of Pi
Our friend Jin Bo was kind enough to look up the cinema where an English print of “Life of Pi” is playing. His advice was to get there around six and buy tickets before going to dinner. We should have followed his advice. By the time we got there the lineup for tickets was huge. We started at the back of the line around 7:00pm, This is our view from the middle of the line around 7:30,
By the time we got to the ticket seller, the 8:00 screening was sold out. We got seats for the 10:20pm screening and settled down in the lobby to read our Ipads and wait for the show. I was falling asleep, and a bit worried that I would not be able to stay awake for a long movie. Not a problem. What an incredible movie it is. I used to know how movies were made, but not any more. I have absolutely no idea how Ang Lee managed to get such stunning and realistic images. I assume it is with a combination of live actors, live animals, puppetry, CGI and barrels and barrels of money. From the look of the credits list all of this is true. But watching the end result is a bit like seeing a 747 take off and trying to imagine how such a thing could come into existence.
I read the book when it was first published, back in 2001 and of course really enjoyed it. But somehow the ending of the book left me dissatisfied. Not so the movie version, which is very true to the book. With the movie, the ending made perfect sense. It’s one of those movies that stays with you for days.
When I see a movie like “Life of Pi” I have to wonder how such movies will impact the global culture. It was so international, with a Chinese director and Indian star, set in India, Mexico and Canada. When a teenager in a small American town sees a picture like that, showing middle class India, not the India they have been trained to expect, with slums and lepers and hordes of scrambling people, it must do something to raise consciousness. I would expect an effect similar to that of the black sitcoms, destroying the illusion that our differences are huge and other cultures are very strange. We are living in one world.