Monday, November 07, 2011

On Poverty and Wealth

So I gots to catch up with this travelogue phase. I:m sorry, fucken Communists and keyboard rearrangements.

So I spent most of last week in Beijing. I want to get the negative out of the way first, and briefly:

China's vision of economic growth is so uninspired that it speaks more of poverty than poverty actually does, in the same way that grownass rappers bragging to suburban teenagers about their ability to pay for jewellery, drive a car and get a girlfriend speaks of it. (Check out Kanye's `the good life' if you need to see what I'm talking about.) It's like they have reduced the concept of progress into the apartment block, with brand carrying stores at the basement and just reproduce these block after block after block. The brands consumed also paint a sad picture. After 3 years the Stonecutter's quote 'jealous?' - 'no Homer, we have the same chair' holds up.

But that's it. I enjoyed Beijing a lot more this time round, not just because I got to see Pandas eithermost. Not being a prisoner to indoors on account of freezing temperatures, I got to cycle around Beijing and experience the surprisingly pleasent traffic.

In Beijing no matter what form of transport you use, the pedestrian rules apply. That is you can pretty much ignore any formal rules, it's jaywalking for bicycles and cars. Everyone moves slowly and the car horn, amazingly is not an angry sound. It just says 'I'm here buddy' not 'get out of the fucking way' or 'I don't like what you are doing'. It's calm and relaxed and patient. I never expected that from such a fucked up driving culture that China has.

But really it works much better, Australian's should be ashamed of what angry assholes they are on the road. Patience is a value that is lost in Australia, one that would go miles and miles towards lifting everyone's wellbeing.

I can remember in 2 months of cycling Europe I got honked at once, by a car in Austria that was trying to tell me to get off the road... onto the designated road for bicycles. Beijing is kind of like that but you get honked all the time in a concerned caring way.

The second thing is that last time I was in Beijing I went to Beijing after 3 months in Japan, Japan the cleanest shithole in the world. I was confronted by the mess and couldn't get over it. I travelled in the right direction this time, and I think I got it. Like my mother pointed out to me, while it is confronting to see children just shitting through a split in their pants in the street or literally being hung out the car window at an intersection to go, the world would be ruined already if everyone in China used disposable nappies. The landfill alone would have it's own seat on the UN security council.

The food as per last time was excellent. And stuff is cheap, I got two pairs of glasses made up in 20 minutes, as opposed to the fucking ordeal getting prescription glasses is in Australia, with insurance companies to deal with and fucking waiting for some factory to make them. OPSM probably got their lenses from the same joint I did. I also took my now 10 year old jeans into the tailors and got two pairs of suitpants tailor made to the same measurements. Knowing I have gangsta-ass slacks makes me confident I will not only cream any job interviewers with my contempt for them, but I will probably be hired in to replace my recruiters.

And the optimism, last time I visited it was 6 months prior to the Beijing Olympics, I think this coloured Beijing with an unattractive 'in your face Australia' attitude I picked up on, an arrogance. I believe that and my own arrogance have settled down over 3 years and Beijing and I were able to get along much better.

Also I guess Beijing was the first unfamiliar culture I visited on my round the world trip last time. Now I have been through muggings and experienced better and worse and I guess know how to travel. I have stopped caring, and it has made me better able to appreciate.

I think the Chinese people can get and deserve a better deal as human beings, for a greener and free future, but they seem happy, upbeat, optimistic even despite the rest of the worlds decline. I feel I can be happy for them.

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