obligatory olympic torch entry


中国加油!

i have been avoiding discussing the olympic torch procession, hoping that the sadness and the confrontation will soon lift, so that conversation might begin again. nevertheless, today i joined the crowds at city hall (市民中心) to greet the torch in shenzhen. originally scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., the procession was rescheduled for 12 o’clock. in those four hours, thousands gathered on city hall lawn and marched in the roads chanting: go china! go beijing! go olympics! (中国加油!北京加油!奥运加油!) meanwhile, police cars circulated, broadcasting the recorded message: the torch procession will not begin until noon, please go home and watch on television. those police officers not directing pedestrians or traffic were, like the rest of those of us, taking pictures.

comments heard:

my throat is so hoarse from screaming i can’t talk.

they [the government] is afraid of something happening (出事).

it’s 32 degrees, how many people do you think have fainted?

a worker from sichuan encouraged me to spread the word about how great this was for shenzhen. he reminded me that he wasn’t from here, but that he had many opportunities. he then started talking about a subject that seemed even more urgent: his lack of english skills and did i know anyone who could help him apply for u.s. copy rights for the products his company produced?

however, all the carnivalesque excitement, notwithstanding, i soon felt bored and started taking pictures of the amazing cloud formations that accompanied the torch. whatever else happened today, pictures of the event will show shenzhen shining beneath blue skies and white clouds. i then joined friends for lunch,who unlike the crowds outside seemed mildly frustrated by the whole thing. one commented that on days like this, he thought chinese people were pitiful; don’t we care about anything else? he asked rhetorically. another joked: thank god for schools and assembly lines, otherwise where would we keep all these people?! the fourth boasted: on a day like today you can get away with anything. no one knows who you are, and so no one stops you.

indeed. obligatory pics of olympic torch procession, shenzhen.

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