Monday, February 9, 2009

# 14 Today's picture 090210

Sweden © Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Får det vara en munk?

©Emy Booz

Jag är den första att erkänna att jag är världens sämsta på att berätta skämt så ni får ursäkta - känner bara att dagen behöver en extra dos "who cares!". Min dotter Emy (9 år) ville att jag skulle lägga upp hennes senaste alster på bloggen så jag tänkte göra två flugor på smällen samtidigt:

En nunna satt länge och fikade en dag på stans konditori. Hon såg lite ledsen ut så servitrisen kom och frågade henne om någonting mer önskades till kaffet?

...och nunnan svarade: Ja, det skulle vara en munk i så fall. 

Så här kommer en munk munk!

China Daily: Drought in northern China

©China Daily

Is this a way to fight a massive drought that affects millions and millions of people's lives? Looks just like the emperors of old making their annual trip to the Temple of Heaven to play peasant for a day and plough a symbolic furrow in a field. The problems of China seem so insurmountable...

A bad beginning...

©Reuters/China Daily the New Year, tragically captured in the fire last night in Beijing that burnt down one of the new CCTV headquarter buildings. The building affected was the Television Culture Centre containing the soon to open Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a theatre, recording studios, cinemas etc. It belongs to the CCTV complex designed by  Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, of which the incredible, futuristic "Pants legs" is the landmark main building (which seems to not have been affected). "Luckily" it was yet to be completed so no human injuries have been reported at this time. The government had recently allowed fireworks within the city centre, bowing to traditional culture and public appeal. In general 2009 has not begun auspiciously with both the world economy at sixes and sevens, huge drought in northern China and now this. Definitely not a good omen for things to come.

See video of fire here.

Update 2.23 pm 090210

Bad goes to fireman dead, seven injured and the whole thing seems to be CCTV's own fault, according to Xinhua News Agency and Reuters: more here. What a sad mess...

Through my window: Sounds of China

©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Click-clakety-click! Click-clakety-click! The window is open and the breeze is sweet with the unctuous smell of chili oil. The click-clakety noise draws me beyond my inner reverie, through the window, and out onto the street. I look down thirteen floors and see the heads of people, walking slowly back and forth. It’s summertime and Sunday and their pace is leisurely. I notice a bright orange-yellow butterfly slowly waving its wings up and down. It’s huge and followed by a child pushing it on a stick. I realize it’s only a mechanical toy weaving its way over the pavement, like a roving helicopter, swooping and diving low over the sea of pavement. Clickity-clakety click-click.

Cars, cars, cars, racing by. The low, monotonous groaning of the air conditioner heating the room. Bicycle bells, taxi horns bleating, rickshaw bells twinkling. A loud brake, a screech, a shout. The blaring megaphone of the police making their rounds bellowing at the shop keepers to clear the curbs of garbage, signs, chairs, boxes whatever. So lazy they are, they stay in their cars and slowly drive past, enforcing their power with threats and bully tactics. Their menacing voices exhorting a social diligence no one seems to want to adhere to.

The whiny drone of the old blind couple that sit on the curb every evening, beggar cup at their feet, sawing away at their erhus. Sometimes other beggars join them and they have a little chat. Small children running past the Red Flag grocery shop scream for sweets, bicycle bells jingle-jangle as parents ride home with their children standing up on the luggage carrier. A Tibetan minstrel walks by, just a little tipsy, sinking a mountain love song. The Knife Sharpener, the Shoe Shine lady, the Florist with his cart of house plants: I can hear them all beneath my window; the man who sells fortunes, the Pomelo Man, the ”Jumbly Lady” with her wagon of a hundred small necessary things: bobby pins, combs, hangers, mops, feather dusters, hairbands and ear cleaners. Each announce their presence with a special call or rhythmic tapping of tool against wood.

Car doors slamming, firecrackers being let off, the nasal blare of a horn, a nagging wife berates her husband, a drunk calls for his friends. Bullhorns blasting, a sudden cacophony of squabbling Sichuanese voices, at the same time two dogs barking and biting furiously. From the 13th floor, it’s hard to tell. Is it a fight?! No, only a chihuahua standing down an English sheep dog and a gaggle of friends discussing recent events. More people gather, yes it is a fight, bicycles stop and gawkers begin to gather. Voices get higher, more hysterical, shrill and anxious! A motorcycle buzzes by, threatening to knock them all down and as sudden as it started the crowd disperses, a few combatants throwing disparaging words over their shoulders, their voices fading, the street calm again for another few minutes.

A bicycle salesman with microphone droning out his selection of goods arrives, pirate copied cds seems to be the thing. The man with the irritating electric hulusi meanders past. Car doors open and close. Oink, toot, waennnk! High pitched giggles, a low throaty laugh, a shop grate being pulled up. Sounds vary through the day as people come home from work, children get picked up from school, business is finished. Distant but clear voices of schoolchildren singing ”Liang zhi lao hu, liang zhi lao hu, pao de kuai, pao de kuai, yi zhi mei you yan jing, yi zhi mei ba, zhen qi guai, zhen qi guai”. Suddenly the staccato sound of a braid of firecrackers start to pop! Pao, paaO, PAO! And then they are spent, and a plane flies by overhead.

On ground level the sounds of China can be overwhelming, but up here in the clouds they run beside and between my thoughts, swirling into a stream of soft swishing sound punctuated by human connection.

At night all is quiet and I sleep well.

Early China photographer: John Thomson

Cantonese woman 1868-72, captioned "Woman of the working class", John Thomson

John Thomson (1837-1921) was an amazing Scottish photographer that we can thank for a treasure of excellent photographs from a very early era of China photography. He made numerous trips through large parts of the mainland, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan during the period 1868-1872. He was also a pioneer of photojournalism, producing images of excellent quality, emotion and range.

From Wikipedia:

Thomson's travels in China were often perilous, as he visited remote, almost unpopulated regions far inland. Most of the people he encountered had never seen a Westerner or camera before. His expeditions were also especially challenging because he had to transport his bulky wooden camera, many large, fragile glass plates, and potentially explosive chemicals. He photographed in a wide variety of conditions and often had to improvise because chemicals were difficult to acquire. His subject matter varied enormously: from humble beggars and street people to Mandarins, Princes and senior government officials; from remote monasteries to Imperial Palaces; from simple rural villages to magnificent landscapes.

# 13 Today's picture 090209

The arduous climb up the Singing Sanddunes, Dunhuang, Gansu ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn