Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Drying Beef and Vienna Cafe

News of the day: human surgeons operate on a gorilla; a Chinese Ayi takes revenge against her employer by slashing her toddlers face to pieces; and Queensland welcomes applications for a job in which one will get-paid-loads-of-money-to-live-on-a-deserted island-and-write-a-blog. I would do the later for free. No, I mean I would pay-someone-give-my-soul-to-the-devil to let me do the later.

And of course, President Obama’s 18-minute Inaugural Address was broadcast live in China until the moment that Mr. Obama “mentioned communism in a line about the defeat of ideologies considered anathema to Americans.” After this, the audio faded out and I no longer had entertainment during my run on the treadmill. There were muffled grumps-groans-and-sighs from my fellow athletes who were also irritating by the obvious and sudden censorship. I find myself constantly taking in and trying to digest the often conflicting-often-courageous-sometimes-ignorant-but-occassionally-inspiring messages on the streets of Shanghai. Democracy exists here but one can never forget that it is a concept wrought with relativism and defined by local terms. I left the gym and strolled down Hua Hai road, quite suddenly stopping short in front of a posh building. Swaying in the wind were two carcasses, partially wrapped in newspaper and hanging from the apartment’s window. Surely this apartment, unlike those found in the older neighborhoods of Shanghai, has a refrigerator? I wonder how the neighbors would react to the pool of blood collecting on the pavement, drip-drop-drip systematically falling.

I continued on my walk, arriving at Vienna Café where I was to meet two girlfriends. The ballads of Julio Iglesias welcomed me and I walked towards the atrium at the back of the café. Seated at a table with a rounded marble top, I peered through the pile of magazines scattered to my side. Ancient wooden skies were mounted on the wall and closing my eyes I took in the scents of winter in Europe.

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