Friday, October 30, 2009

A City with a View

Unfortunately, almost every cool destination in Hong Kong is crowded. But, I still enjoyed going up to Victoria Peak for the great view of the city. The first time I went with Jia and her mother--it was a very hazy late-October weekend. The view wasn't so good that day, but we made it up early in the morning when the air was significantly clearer (we couldn't see the peak from across Victoria Harbor in the afternoon). The second time was with my parents--the weather was perfect aside from the usual August heat and humidity. The two days in Hong Kong with my parents were the clearest I ever saw in that city.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Turning Leaves

More than just the leaves are turning in New Jersey. Jia and I have changed a bit--or rather our perceptions have.

In China I always seemed to be taking pointless photos and staring at the mundane, which were sometimes fascinating to me as an outsider. Now, it's Jia's turn.

It never occurred to me how beautiful autumn in the northeastern U.S. could be for someone who never experienced it. Sure, her hometown in Xinjiang had the changes in seasons, but the leaves didn't change to such colors (apparently, the leaves just change to brown and fall). For the last couple weeks, she has been in awe of the fall colors around Jersey City, which doesn't really have a lot of fall foliage. Today, I took her back to my parents' house, and she took almost a hundred photos from around the lake.

But it's more than just the changing colors of the season. We had dinner with some of her new friends (also Chinese immigrants). The dinner conversation came to an interesting point when they were discussing waiguoren. One of them commented that it took a while to realize that she couldn't call people waiguoren anymore because they were the residents and she is now the foreigner. So, she now has to refer to the non-Chinese she encounters at Meiguoren (Americans).

There were many other interesting conversations about living in the U.S., but I couldn't catch all of it in Chinese--though I did realize that my listening skills are pretty good, and I understood quite a bit of the conversations.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maoist the White House

Since moving back to the US I've been amazed by the commercialization of President Obama--I've seen his face on a lot of cheap products. I guess it's a good marketing ploy in such a poor economy. In some ways it is reminiscent of all the kitschy Mao Zedong memorabilia (or Mao-morabilia) for sale in all the tourist traps in China (I recently read about Mao snowglobes and glow-in-the-dark Mao figures).

Now that America's love affair with President Obama is waning, other countries are still showing their support through new and questionable marketing campaigns featuring the commander-in-chief's image. We've already seen him advertising real estate and the non-copyright-infringing Blockberry in China.

Now, they're even putting his image in place of Chairman Mao. That's right folks, for a limited time you can purchase your own Oba Mao t-shirts in China (original link). Maybe you tell the vendors that he's your president they'll give you the very best international friend price.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Piracy in China?

If you didn't get the sarcasm in the title, you probably work for the media. This isn't the first time I've read an article about China that was old news to anyone who actually knows anything about China. Reuters makes it sound shocking that intellectual property thieves are selling illegal copies of Windows 7 only a week before its release. I've got news for Reuters, bootleggers have been selling illegal copies of Windows 7 for more than a year.

There is some logic in the article from analyst Matthew Cheung: "If you're trying to sell a program that costs 2,000 yuan to a student living on 400 yuan a month, that's simply not going to work out for most consumers." Really? Thank you, captain obvious.

It's not so much the individual users that software companies have a problem with--personal computers are still not as common as they are in the US. The major problem is Internet cafes and businesses that use pirated software--and the people who get the pirated software for these businesses don't usually buy it on the streets.

The media really needs to stop blowing these stories out of proportion. It might help if the people they hired to write these stories knew anything about China.

Celebrate a New Holiday

Well, the holiday isn't new, but it is something new for me. I was reminded that tomorrow is Diwali. As there is a significant Indian population in Jersey City, there will be some events. Supposedly there will be a lot going on in Little India (one block of Newark Ave. near Journal Square). I also came across an announcement for a Diwali celebration at an Irish pub--sounds like a fun cultural mix to me.

Unfortunately, the weather does not look promising. It seems that we have condensed autumn to a couple weeks and headed straight into winter. It's rather cold and raining. If I was still living in Shenzhen I'd be contemplating turning off my air conditioner for much of the day. Instead, I'm wondering how long it will take for the heater to get my apartment to a comfortable temperature.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday's Metaphor

On our tour through Bali, we took a trip to Turtle Island (it was part of the package--something for the four kids in the group to enjoy). I think this photo from the boat ride to the island sums up my feelings about the US economy.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Police Work Paradox

Police in Chongqing have been cracking down on organized crime for the past eight months. Supposedly they are making progress.

One has to wonder what the police would do if not explicitly ordered to take on organized crime after reading a quotation from an article in China Daily. One police officer in Chongqing says, "You feel like a real policeman when you arrest gangs and do something for the people."

I guess the Chinese on the police badges don't translate to "To Protect and Serve."

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Some Wedding Traditions

Chinese weddings can be a lot of fun. And some of the traditions seem unbelievably strange to foreigners. And others just should be avoided. (I was fortunate enough to only endure the fun traditions.)

According to a recent online post (in Chinese), a bride went a little too far.

Part of the wedding tradition is that family and friends of the bride are supposed to make it difficult for the groom to pick up the bride and take her to the reception--I've heard of playful beatings, bringing gifts for relatives, hiding the bride's shoes, and other shenanigans. This particular wedding was held up by the bride who would not allow the groom to enter her home until he purchased a new flat-screen TV for their home, which he apparently promised to buy beforehand.

After being held out of the home to take his bride to the wedding, the groom gave up. Not only did he call off the wedding, he went out and found another girl he went to school with and proposed to her. And she accepted.

I guess some people can only push the wedding traditions so far before it all goes horribly wrong. At least the groom found someone new quickly.