Dancing Grandpa

One of the things I love (and miss) about China is the public dancing. While I only participated occasionally — joining grannies in fan dances when I lived in Changchun — seeing neighbors out dancing together in the evening or on weekends always brought a smile to my face. Men, women, young, old — everyone seems to get in the act. And if you don’t dance yourself, no problem; just sit back and watch!

Enter the dancing grandpa — a video clip of an elderly man and a young woman boogying down in a local park. Someone shot a video of their routine and now it has gone “viral.” If this video doesn’t make you smile this Monday morning, nothing will! (email readers, click here to see the video.)

There are so many things I love about this clip: grandpa wearing a Mao jacket; the girl with her baseball cap turned sideways; the Chines pop music; the people watching — all having a wonderful time.

I have long thought that if we, in the US, spent more time dancing with our friends and neighbors, we may be a less violent society.

Sometimes I really really miss China!

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image credit:

There’s More Than One Way to “Go Green”

In February of 2001, the International Olympic Committee made their final inspection visit to Beijing to see if the city would be up to hosting the 2008 Olympics. In preparation for that visit, the city got a major “spruce-up.” Office and apartment buildings that had been a dull gray since their construction decades before were painted bright colors. Well, three sides of the buildings were painted — only the ones that face the highways that the Committee members would travel on. Every surface of the city was scrubbed clean.

My personal favorite was the grass. During a stroll through Tiananmen Square I noticed that the newly installed grass was green. “Green grass in February?” I was puzzled. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the entire “lawn” had been spray-painted green.

I thought of that today when I read this post in the The Beijinger about the city’s current effort to “greenify” in the run-up to the Communist Party Congress that will be held next month. All the power boxes are being covered with fake vines:

As the British say, “BRILLIANT!”

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Photo: The Beijinger

Chinese Propaganda With Buddhist Characteristics

In the Beijing neighborhood that I stayed in last week, I noticed a wall covered with propaganda paintings (in the US, we might call them “public service announcements”). I’m always fascinated by these paintings and/or posters as they give a glimpse into what the leaders are concerned about and what the leaders think the people should be concerned about.

These propaganda paintings are typically done in the style of “socialist realism” — sturdy, square-jawed hero conquering whatever difficulty lies before them.

But these were different. In terms of color and style, they seemed to be evoking traditional Buddhist art instead of socialist realism. I know that the government has been on a campaign to promote traditional culture and cultural values; this was the first I had seen it reflected artistically in propaganda.

Here are a few examples:

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The Blue Bag

When I moved back to the States 5 years ago, I envisioned returning to China often, so even though I closed up my apartment and shipped nearly all of my belongings, I left behind at a friend’s house a small blue bag with some items I didn’t want to haul back and forth. Think toiletries and a hair dryer.

It’s been convenient because whenever I do go to Beijing I stay with that friend, and she always greets me at the door with my blue bag!

Last Sunday morning, as I was preparing to leave Beijing and fly back to Minnesota, my friend said to me, “See you next time. As long as your blue bag is here, I know you’re coming back!”

And of course she’s right!

Feeding the 3000

Last week I attended a conference at the Asia World Expo in Hong Kong, a large convention center near the airport. Given it’s rather remote location, there are no eating places nearby (except at the terminal). And surprisingly, within the complex itself I only spotted a Subway and a Starbucks.

So how do you feed 3000+ conference attendees? You line them up and give them box lunches. Like this: (email readers, go here to see the vide0)

One of the lines I found myself in was serving a box lunch with pork chops a potatoes. When that was announced, the people in line behind me exclaimed, “What, no rice? That will never do!” and then hightailed it to another line.

Once we got our box lunches we were directed to return to our seats in the large meeting room and eat there.

It was amazingly efficient!

The Language Tree

I love language and infographics, so when I ran across this fantastic infographic depicting the  major non-Asian world languages, I couldn’t resist. Here’s how it is described on the Matador Network:

The manner in which languages evolve over time is immensely complex, and can be kind of difficult to understand. So linguists like to visually represent languages as a tree. Like most academic diagrams, the tree is usually a fairly dull thing to look at, but Finnish-Swedish webcomic artist Minna Sundberg has put together this spectacularly beautiful depiction of where the world’s Nordic languages originally came from.

minna-sundberg

It’s more than an infographic; it’s a piece of art.

Would love to see a similar one for Asian languages!

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Image source: Matador Network

Chinese New Year Nagging — In Song

Do you think your parents nag? Try being a young person going home for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). The questions come fast and furious, and no matter what you are doing or achieving it seems never to be enough.

Singles have it particularly rough. “What? STILL no boyfriend (or girlfriend)??”

This is a big enough problem that some young women “rent” boyfriends to take home with them for the holidays so that their parents will think they are attached. Here’s how the China Daily reports on this phenomenon:

The price of renting a boyfriend to take home with you is surging to as high as 1,500 yuan ($219) a day as Spring Festival approaches, chinanews.com reported on Wednesday.

Some single women, who are pressured by their parents to marry, choose to rent a boyfriend for home to soften or dispel parents’ dissatisfaction with their singledom. Catering to the market, men are advertising their availability at higher prices on social networking platforms.

In a 1,000-people group chat on Tencent’s QQ, many advertisements give personal data about the “boyfriends” for rent, including height, weight and educational background, as well as services the “boyfriends’ can provide, such as “coping with questions concerning marriage from parents and relatives”.

The starting price to rent a “boyfriend” is 1,000 yuan. The manager of the chat group said that the daily price ranges from 1,000 yuan to 1,500 yuan during Spring Festival season, compared to a regular fee of 600 yuan to 1,000 yuan.

Besides the rental fee, the woman renting a boyfriend has to pay for his round-trip tickets if travel is involved and other costs, such as dining out and outings.

A choral group in Shanghai called the Shanghai Rainbow Chamber Singers has come up with a song about the travails of going home for the holidays. It’s called “What Did I Do is For Your Own Good.” The video of their performance of the song has gone viral in China.

(email readers, please go here to view)

Very funny and very impressive!!

Happy New Year!

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

This video making the rounds on the inter-webs shows what happens when the wind shifts and starts coming in from the south and east in Beijing:

And when the wind shifts back to the north and west, it will roll on out.

This is still the main thing I DON’T miss about living in Beijing.

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