from under the cloud

When this is posted, it means that i’m out from under the clouds.  I’m writing this on Sunday, July 3rd during a long weekend in the U.S.  Yesterday, spent an entire day inside a factory, today again and tomorrow the same.

The timing of updating posts seems to be tricky as the cloud of censorship means it’s not always possible.  Certain networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and wordpress are not always accessible.

A few things I’ve tried to do in the last few days:  A sister sent me a link of her daughter in FB — can’t see it.  Worked with someone to develop a new landing page for my business with a live Twitter feed — could not see the twitter feed to test it.  Tried a couple of ways to update this blog on wordpress — was not able to.

The world’s second largest economy is growing by leaps and bounds in spite of itself.    And like good Chinese, they are the world’s best copy cats.  The social sites most used are in Chinese script and are almost exact copies to what was developed originally (named above) and not un-monitored.

Apart from the censorship cloud, there is the all too real haze particle cloud that hangs over much of this country.  The guy who invited me has lived here for seven years in a small town about 200 km north of Shanghai.  The town is typical of many across China — very organized, clean, lots of parks and bicycle/motorbike paths throughout the city.

Even though they’ve taken steps in most cities like making petro motorbikes illegal (electric only), there is still a haze caused by pollution emitted by several heavy industries.  The largest culprit is coal for electricity, followed by steel and the rest of everything else spews out fine particles.  Hence, it rarely gets to be a bright sunny day, rather a hazy sunny, or mostly hazy grey depending on the air pressure and wind.

The electric bicycle/motorbike laws here explain the recent proliferation of noiseless electric bicycles in New York City by the thousands of Chinese delivery guys.  Virtually no Chinese delivery bike in NYC is self powered anymore.  And most don’t follow rules of the road.  They appear stealthily out of nowhere coming from any direction.  It’s tough for the police to stop them because they don’t speak english.

As here, just about no one speaks english.  I made the mistake of not learning the chinese word for toilet (our soft word “bathroom”).  Yesterday I went to a spa to try a neck message.  I’m still feeling like a freak with two separate balls under my chin.  They wouldn’t touch my throat, but they did put heated suction cups all over my back.  Some of them actually hurt.  The result is my back looks as if I was attacked by an octopus.  Afterwards, I needed to use the bathroom and no one understood what I was saying.  Even though many public bathrooms have the chinese characters and also the english word “toilet.”, they didn’t understand my pronunciation of toilet.  It could have been that the twelve cups suctioned onto my back kind of took my breath away.  Still, my hand language gestures they found baffling and I was very animated.  Finally one guy understood and I could hear the girls who were baffled by my request now laughing once they understood what my gestures meant.

That experience cleared up a cloud of my own — never forget to learn basic words of the language of the country you are in; polite greetings such as ‘good day’, ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’ and ‘where is the toilet hidden.’  Anyway, there is lots of good stuff under the clouds.  But clouds nevertheless.

4 thoughts on “from under the cloud

  1. Sister Lynda

    Hmmmmm….Would imagine you need to stay even more hydrated breathing in the cloudy fog of polution.

    Slang words for toilet: lav; loo; karsy; thunder box; colfabias; forth, Jerry; forakers; throne room; the bogs; wizz room. Wonder how they would translate? I am sure the hand language gestures were quite humerous.

    Life is interesting, 1 day you are playing chicken with a “cucaracha” in NY and the next your hand gestering you must go to the bathroom in China. Keep the blogs coming Steve, I love reading them.

  2. JA

    ditto to Lynda’s comments…Wow – I am amazed at the slang words I’ve read for toilet Lynda…I’ve never heard of some of them…Jerry? Or John? I could think of a few others, but probably best to keep them to myself.
    smog/no-smog/crazy driver/non-crazy driver/english speaking vs. non = one of those electric bikes sounds like a fun way to scoot around town.


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