Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Presidents, Princes, Divas and Murderers

When I was a teenager my family moved to Florida. The first week in our new hometown a young black man was taken into the swamps by the local Ku Klux Clan, chained to a tree and beaten to death. This was 1976. Today Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America. It made me cry. For the past eight years I have been so ashamed to call myself an American that I have cowardly hidden behind my Swedish passport. Today I feel extremely proud to be an American  and proud of the American people that voted for Obama. We are no longer the people of 1976. Let us hope that Mr Obama will keep us proud both of him and ourselves.
©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
The past few weeks have seen various personages pass through Chengdu. Yesterday Prince Andrew, Duke of York, turned up at The Bookworm. He was either very tired (or slightly tipsy from a working lunch) because he fell asleep in front of our very eyes. Luckily this didn't last for more than a few seconds and he went on to lend his support and suggestions to the ex-pat efforts in the local earthquake relief work. 

We opened our front door the other day to discover Yang Erche Namu on our doorstep. She was inspecting the vacant apartment across from ours, possibly thinking of renting it. (Our Korean missionary neighbors have shifted abode). Namu is well-known in Sweden and other European countries as the author (together with Christine Mathieu) of Leaving Mother Lake (Döttrarnas Rike, Bra Böcker Bokförlag), an account of her childhood on the shores of Lugu Lake on the border of Yunnan and Sichuan Province. She belongs to the Mosuo minority and at a young age left her small village to become a mega singing star in China. Her life was featured in National Geographic Magazine and she has since both written books, been a model and starred in movies. Let's hope she's not too hot to handle if she becomes our neighbor. Are Mosuos in the habit of borrowing sugar?

Temple door, Kongpo, Tibet ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
On the darker side of things an upsetting thing happened the other day on our street. On my way in a taxi to pick up my children I suddenly saw two Tibetans stabbing each other with long knives. The taxi driver jammed on his brakes and for a few horrifying seconds we say them lunge fiercely at each other in a grim dance of death, both wanting to get the best of the other. The driver quickly decided the best thing to do was to flee the scene and we sped off in a hurry, both of us shaken by what we had seen. "Did you see that?" I asked him. "I saw it." he answered. I wish I hadn't.


  1. Oh my GOD! Your life in Chengdu is really ups and downs!
    I hope you don´t have to see anything more of the knife-thing.

  2. Never a dull moment in Chengdu. The other day we saw a young girl bicycling with one hand and in the other she had a tray over her head full of bowls of steaming hot instant noodles. She was doing lunch deliveries!

  3. that's what i figured. i've seen other fights around there, and a woman with blood pouring down her face once, but that was at night. never actually saw a knifing, especially in broad daylight! although i was robbed at knife-point inside wuhouci once too...but that wasn't a tibetan and it didn't end in violence (just lost money and a cellphone), thank God! i'm surprised that what with recent police presence in that area that they felt "free" enough to fight so openly like that. they were probably from out of town, i'd guess.