Out of the Well: A Frogs-Eye-View of China and the World

Random Jottings on China, History, Culture, and Life as seen by an American student in Beijing.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Martyr With a Broom; or why you have to be brave to be a street sweeper in China

So I worry about this country sometimes.

I have a text book right now that depresses the hell out of me. Theclass is radio listening, and towards that goal it is effective. The
subjects, taken from real radio shows, however are awful. teachers
making whole classes of children slap a child's face, teenage Internet
criminals, fake diploma mills, and the like.

The last few day have been too much. The lesson is entitled "why do we make public sanitation workers shed blood and tears?" according to the radio report (circa '98). For some reason there is a prevalent phenomena of people "humiliating and beating up" sanitation workers. It seems that at the slightest provocation people are willing to go up to guys n gals (often from the countryside or elderly) driving garbage trucks and picking the trash off the street and beat to the point of unconsciousness, disability and death.

When i first read this i thought. Well its just to weird to be true. Then i thought, well at the end of the nineteens maybe it was a problem, but surely not now. I just googled the Chinese phrase
"Sanitation workers humiliated" as it appeared in my lesson. 17,300 hits came up, one from earlier this month. I was proud of myself that, armed with my new beating up sanitation worker vocabulary, i could make my way through a few articles calling for greater public respect for these people, as well as publicly provided medical insurance. So it is still a problem.

Sorry to tell you all this. It is just driving me crazy how absurd this is. I really like this country but this makes no sense. Why sanitation workers? What makes them such a target? Why not taxi drivers, construction workers, or the lady who sells me egg pancakes in the morning? (Not that I wish it on anyone, especially not the egg pancake lady.)

My mornings are filled with both garbage truck men and street cleaners, I am going to spend the next couple of weeks worrying about them.

On the upside, less than 6 days until Sarah comes to China and helps me think about less crazy things.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Trip Begins; or Shanhai and Boat

Originally uploaded by ebenlindsey.
Last friday morning, in honor of international Labor Day (the following monday), five of my friends and I skipped school to get an early start on our five day break. At five thirty in the morning roomate-Nick, roomate-Rhonda, fellow-ex-reedie-Jen, fellow-ex-reedie-Miri, and isreali-classmate-Yoel piled into to cabs to catch an early flight to Shanghai.

Upon arriving in shanghai, anyone who has been trapped in the sandy, dusty, blandness of Beijing will immediately be struck by two advantages of the southern city. Moisture and the color green. Not only were we hit with a welcome wall of humidity as we stepped out of the Pudong International airport, but our eyes were subjected to a whole range of green foliage the likes of which we could not even imagine in the capital.

We spent a lovely day meandering through the french quarter and staring in rapt amazement at the bustling crazyness that is the Nanjing lu shopping district. We ate a fantastic meal, and gernerally agreed that the Shanghaiese had it made.

As great as shanghai is, it was not our goal. That evening, after a harrowing taxi drive (by the way, it is impossible to get a cab in Shanghai) we borded a boat heading out for a 14hour trip to putuo shan.

tommorrow... arrival.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Home Again; or why you have to wait another day or so to hear about my vacation

Originally uploaded by ebenlindsey.
Hey all, well, I am back in the Big BJ, which seems rather dusty in comparison to the beautiful south. My internet connection is cut off due to lack of payment (not my fault), so as soon as it back I will recount my adventures.

In the meantime, check out my flicker page for the photos.