Contradictions in China

confucius

 

pabellon

China is, no doubt, a country of contrasts, one more mark of most developing countries in the world. You have the relatively rich coast and the poor countryside. But even in wealthy Shanghai and Beijing, you find poverty on the streets. They passed from a tightly controlled economy to an open market and frantic business after Deng XiaoPing. And now, everyone wants to be rich, everyone wants to live Western style. But they are too many, and the competition is hard. After Mao and the Cultural Revolution, intellectuals and good manners were equal to bourgeois vices, and everyone rushed for survival without paying attention to that. Nowadays, that the standard of living is gradually going up, their ways have not paired the economic development yet, and then you find people spiting on the floor in front of you, not respecting lines or pushing around, hotel clerks and taxi drivers quite rude and so on. But at the same time, a new generation of young Chinese not so limited by censorship –although it still exists, especially on the Internet, they might not be able to read these lines-and indoctrination, get little by little to adapt themselves to a more global and friendly world. I met so many families and young students willing to exchange pieces of language and culture with a foreign traveler…The hatred-love relation with the West and the complex of inferiority should be replace by one of a more mutual respect and help. And maybe they should look back to their ancient culture’s precepts of ethical standards and social norms advocated by Confucius.
As for politics and democracy, as long as people see how their standard of living goes up, they don’t care too much about it. But if the economy happens to get stuck one day, the Government will be in real trouble. Traveling around China and feeling the hugeness of the country in terms of population and territory, I understand the desire of the Communist Party of having everything tied up. If they didn’t, China would probably fall into chaos and/or regional civil wars. Now it’s a non-free but at least somehow harmonious society, and with low delinquency. But they will have to open the system; it’s a matter of time.
I think China has a real problem with pollution and should take strong measures to control it. Cities are not only sky-scrapers, factories and cars, but also people on the streets who have the right to breathe fresh air. The EXPO 2010’s theme is precisely the green cities. It’s a good and brave start, being aware of their own problems, but now they have to really face them, maybe at the cost of their own high-speed economic development. At least most scooters are electric. They should do the same with cars, if their objective is that everyone own one; and control their factories’ Co2 emissions.
As for China’s cities, the more livable and “civilized” is Beijing, followed by frantic Shanghai with its many contradictions –Pudong and the Bund vs. the slums downtown-. Mid-size cities like Nanjing can be nice in some areas, hostile in others; same as for Qingdao –good city to meet Chinese national tourists from all around China-, with a relatively well-taken care of beach front but a more abandoned downtown.
After this 2-week-trip to China, I don’t think I’ll go back in the short or medium term, but when I do, I hope I will find a better place to live.
Here you are a few videos. Enjoy:
Qingdao beach
Nanjing Kung Fu Noodles
Chinese exotic food
EXPO 2010 China’s pavilion
Traditional music at Shanghai’s Yuu Gardens
Shanghai’s storytelling
Miguelín, the Spanish gigantic baby at EXPO Shanghai 2010
Spain’s pavilion at EXPO Shanghai 2010

Fiestas de Lavapiés


Ultimos estertores de las fiestas de La Paloma, en Madrid, tras las de San Cayetano y San Lorenzo.
La primera quincena de agosto en la capital siempre es la mejor. Una de las cosas que me sorprende cada que vuelvo a España en verano y me paseo por las fiestas es la cantidad de treintañeros sueltos por ahí. En Japón parece como si les tuvieran impuesto un toque de queda.
Aquí va un gracioso vídeo salsero que podríamos titular: “Los hombres también bailan”.
Ahora, en Kioto, mientras vuelvo a adaptarme a mi vida japonesa y me recupero de 20 horas de vuelo vía Bangkok y Manila -masoquismo puro-, reviso fotos y vídeos. Cualquiera tiempo pasado fue mejor…

Muai Thai

Por muy civilizados que estemos, siempre nos acaba saliendo una vena violenta en determinadas circunstancias. Es como si el cuerpo nos recordara nuestros orígenes homínidos de caza y lucha, especialmente al género masculino, macho, varón, seductor y peleón.

De hecho, la sociedad parece haber evolucionado más rápidamente que nuestros cuerpos, y de ahí los problemas de estrés por esa imposibilidad de desahogar el exceso de tensión mediante la lucha, el movimiento, etc. Sin embargo, yo he encontrado la receta perfecta, el thai boxing: siempre y cuando seas tú el único que golpea, claro.

EXPO 2008 ZARAGOZA

This year the World Exhibition takes place in Zaragoza, a small city in Northeast Spain. The exhibition’s theme is Water in Earth, and most countries show their own politics related to the saving or the getting of drinking water’s reserves.

Since I was in Barcelona, I decided to stop by for one day and check it out. Apart from a few original but useless buildings, most of the exhibitors were mere souvenir shops or etnhic restaurants and the staff most times was either non-native or non-talkative. Any of the yearly FITUR in Madrid is more fun.

One of the few interesting things was an only-women salsa band, which played Cuban rythms. After the concert in the huge but empty Latin American pavillion, they explained to me that they were on a tour around Europe from Santiago de Cuba.

Cabo Verde and Vietnam also had good venues. And the queue to enter Japan‘s exhibitor was so long -in distance and time, maybe 2 hours- that either they give kimonos as a present or Spaniards are really in love with this country.

国立新美術館, Modigliani y salsa

この間東京の国立新美術館に行って印象的な緑ような建物に入って日本の現代の画家の絵画を見た。色々なスタイルと西洋の影響見えるけどその絵画は特に何か日本らしいあります。強い感情ではなかったけど鮮やかな内の人生に富んでいます。一番好きなのは花になったスイカでした。昔の夢のような遊んでいる人のも私を満足させました。

Apart from this rich exhibition –in quality and number of works-, the main attraction these days at the museum is Modigliani, the Italian painter and sculptor turned into a Parisian bohemian, who died in 1920 at the young age of 35, after a life of excesses. His work is marked with an obsession for long-faced portraits with geometrical noses and non-human eyes and in general with a different approach to the concept of beauty. He was influenced initially by African and Cambodian art –his Cariatides show the evolution of his art- and later by Cubism. Although it was his bohemian and eccentric life along with characters like Picasso, Brancussi, Rivera and others, and his abuse of absinthe and hashish what finally provoked his death and his becoming a myth.

Y como no todo en la vida es el placer intelectual, y hay que darle al cuerpo lo que es del cuerpo, un fin de semana en Tokyo no está completo si no se visitan sus templos de la salsa en Roppongi. Generalmente, ese reducto gaijin no supone una experiencia muy japonesa, pero cuando se trata de salsa, ese es el lugar. Los viernes, sábados y fiestas de guardar son el momento adecuado para visitar Salsa Sudada, donde la falta de espacio y la alta temperatura se compensan con un buen ambiente festivo y bellos cuerpos femeninos cuyas caderas se mueven con sensualidad al ritmo de la clave cubana. Cambiar de canción y de pareja de baile es automático, y muchos pares de ojos se cruzan buscando improvisados contactos corporales y rítmicos que durarán apenas unos minutos, casi lo que dura una vida.

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