Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weather update: Chengdu Feb 19, 2009

View out my window, Chengdu 8.30 am 090219 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

It might have been yushui yesterday but this morning something extraordinary happened here in Chengdu: There was a blood red sunrise, the sun came out and we could see shadows! Feichang budeliao! Doesn't mean we have blue skies though....

Yushui : rain water and economy

Summer downpour, Beijing August 1998 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

According to the Chinese agricultural calendar (the nongli 农历) today is yushui 雨水, (literally “rain water”) and tradition says that if it doesn't rain today there won't be any rain for 100 days to come. Low and behold, this evening it rained a few drops! Not enough to please a desperate farmer (and northern China is still in the grips of a horrible drought) but enough to confirm that in our part of the world the calendar is still working. 

The image above is from a summer deluge in Beijing many years ago. It was wonderful to witness from under the protection of an overhanging roof (and it also proves my point that you've got to have your camera with you at all times and ready to shoot). It got me thinking about transportation: after Spring festival ended last week here in Chengdu the number of pedicabs (both motorized and traditional like the one above) has increased noticeably - seemingly an effect of the global economic situation where people are trying to find any way to earn extra money. At the beginning of 2008 the number of electric pedicabs and bicycle rickshaws had decreased drastically. We witnessed several confiscations by the local police, loading rickshaws onto trucks, the vehicle owners not having proper licenses or driving in areas they weren't allowed in. A year later I don't know if the rules have changed in light of the current situation. Maybe the authorities are just showing a little humanity and looking through their fingers in order to lighten the burden of those who live so perilously at the bottom end of the economy.

The Postal Notice Blackboard

Feb 17, 2009 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Whenever we received a package the first year after having moved to Chengdu in 2006 we would receive a notice in our mailbox that the package was to be picked up at so-and-so post office. Each time a notice came the package would be waiting for us at a different post office. Some of the post offices were somewhat in our area of the city; others far, far away in some remote location. About 20 months ago we stopped receiving notices - the packages started to be delivered directly to our apartment complex. Sometimes there would be a knock on the door, with a guard standing outside with our package. Other times a small piece of paper with a request to come to the guard office to pick up our package was found glued to our front door. Since just before Chinese New Year this year there is a completely new innovation - The Postal Notice Blackboard. This notice board is now situated by the gate to our compound, the only entrance to an entire area inhabited by hundreds of people. On it you can see if you have a letter or package, listed according to your apartment number (we're C2 1302 so no mail for us this day, Kris and Stephanie on the 17th floor have got something though). This is very convenient and quite exciting to come home everyday and check if something has arrived. But as far as letters go I can't really figure out their system. We all have mailboxes on the ground floor of each block. Sometimes mail is put there, sometimes its put on the blackboard to be picked up. Sometimes it never comes at all (like my photographic magazines and Fotografisk Tidskrift). And why did they suddenly decide to send us our packages directly to our address? Had we passed some sort of test? After 24 years dealing with China I've learnt not to question the workings of the Chinese postal service...

# 21 Today's picture 090218

Sit-surfing the Singing Sanddunes, Dunhuang, Gansu Sept 2005 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn