October 1st, 2019

mom walk

national day update

Every time i open a new tab on my browser i get the local Chinese headlines. During normal times of the year, that mostly means tabloid reporting on celebrities, diet trends and miracle cures. But the last week the top tabloid story has been the women soldiers marching in Tiananmen. I cringe every time i see the photos. Why do male soldiers get to look ready for action, but female soldiers parade around in short skirts and lipstick like PLA Barbies? This country has a long way to go on the gender equality front.

Fortunately VPNs are back, albeit very slow and spotty, so i can also read news stories that don't annoy me.

I worked from home Sunday and Monday. Sunday, because that's one of the two weekend days we must work this month to give us seven consecutive days off this week. It's not really five holidays if two of those are in lieu of mandatory weekend work, but that topic has been done to death on Chinese social media. The short answer is that someone in the party decided China should have Golden Weeks, so therefore China has Golden Weeks.

On to the police lockdown around my office.

I posted on the team chat that i would be working from home to avoid the jackbooted thugs and their ban on share bikes. My manager tried to explain: "The situation in Hong Kong is very worrisome. Victoria Harbour always had the privilege of hosting the country's best fireworks, but now it will instead be moved to Shenzhen Bay." He followed that up with a comment about how all his Hong Kong friends have escaped to Shenzhen, and that he hopes there will be no escalation of the conflict.

Of course i had to point out that if there weren't any cops, there wouldn't be any conflict. Well, that's when i discovered just how much of a bootlicker my manager is. "Hong Kong companies don't let their employees work from home, so blocking transit and harrassing the passengers is disrupting their business." I was very disappointed to find that my boss is not only a misinformed party hack but also a capitalist douche canoe. Although i suppose that's two sides of the same coin in modern China.

Meanwhile up here in my little urban village, life is continuing as per normal. I went to the supermarket to get some supplies yesterday and i had to stifle a giggle because it felt so silly to be walking past shelves full of bourgeois frippery to the rousing beat of revolutionary songs. One keen young chap decided to sing along, much to the bemusement of the older women around him. The young girl weighing my bok choy looked bored out of her mind.

I got 拌面 noodles on the way home. Someone came in asking if they'd be open on National Day. The answer from the laoban was yeah, of course, why wouldn't they be?

Good to know. I am going to hide in my room all day following the live feeds as long as the 工信部 lets me. I hope some savvy anarchists in Hong Kong have secretly come up with an outrageous stunt to mark the date. Reclaiming the streets and singing localist songs in shopping malls is fine and all, but it doesn't really advance the narrative. It would be really great to see the kids stage a happening that really rubs it in the nose of the administration, especially if it (briefly) goes viral in the mainland too.

Nationalism is the fucking worst, y'all.
mom walk

national day update #2

Okay, i did leave the house. And now i am glad that i did.

I left for the least Chinese reason possible - i realized that i did not have enough coffee to brew a pot for breakfast tomorrow, so i went on the hunt for an open Starbucks.

Guess what? It seems that to celebrate National Day they finally opened the new mall next to my village. And what is a mall without a Starbucks? (And a Domino's, and a KFC...) So now i can get coffee 5 minutes walk from my house.

The new Starbucks was packed. They also did not have any coffee beans aside from Colombian, so i got on a share bike to the Starbucks at the mall near the polytech.

That's when i saw that they have also finally opened up the river walk! Assuming the river walk is fully open, that means i can bike all the way along the river from my house to the bay, which would make my work commute much faster and less perilous. I will do an investigation later this week.

The other Starbucks was packed too. The only difference between that suburban end of my neighborhood and this village end is that there were a few more Chinese flags hanging along the main road over there. If it wasn't for the revolutionary songs in the supermarket you wouldn't even know it was National Day. Very different to the neighborhood near my work, where all the buildings are festooned with flags and massive banners evangelizing the party and socialism with Chinese characteristics.

I got my coffee, enjoyed the complimentary americano under an umbrella and looked at the sad pictures of polluted-ass Beijing. Life down here in the Pearl River is so much better, man. It's blue skies, sunny and very warm.

Warmer, since i was wearing head-to-toe black in solidarity with the kids over the bay.

But the reason it was good to get out was to see how many people were just doing their usual weekend thing without the slightest nod to politics or nationalism. I counted two people in red patriotic garb, but that was it. I didn't stick out at all in my all black outfit, not that it's really making much a statement up here on the north side. I suspect most people don't ever think about Hong Kong. Or Beijing, for that matter.

I got a bowl of coconut milk, pearl sago and sea coconut before heading home.

Back to watching the news feeds.