Monday, September 26, 2011


So we were kicking around a shuttlecock in our apartment complex patio area when a voice came from behind us. It was a mother talking to her children about the game and presumptiously asking if they'd like to join us in the kicking. The two boys said they didn't but still walked around to a position that incidentally completed a triangle to observe us.
Mid-play, the shuttlecock launched off the side of my foot in their direction and they leadfootedly let it drop down next to them without any attempt to kick it back into the air.
"No-one got it!" I dramatically cried in Mandarin.
Their mother from behind called out that they should join in when the oldest one stomped away yelling in English: "I'm from New Zealand!"
I had never expected him to say that! "I'm also from New Zealand!" I called back but he wasn't listening or wasn't interested.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wind has turned

I was walking through the old town looking for something to eat. I bumped into three friends, all of whom were considerably older than me. We were on our way to somewhere, when we came across a blood donation facility. We went in. One of my friends muttered that he didn't want to donate but the others had already grabbed an application form. We'd mostly filled in the form when it became clear that there was a space to stamp a chop. We told the woman attending us that we didn't have a chop. She told us that we couldn't donate then. We were frustrated and were about to leave when I asked: next time, besides a chop, was there anything else we needed?


"Why do you need an anaesthetic? We don't use anaesthetic to donate blood in New Zealand."

"Because it's painful. You need to get one of these," she showed me a bag of liquid that looked the same as saline solution.

"Can I donate without anaesthetic?" My questioned trailed as she trailed away. She left the room never to answer my question again.


And that was roughly when I woke up. Chinese bureaucracy and service have obviously entered my dreams. It has become easier to dream, too, with the night temperatures dropping into the low twenties. The wind, as they say, has turned. It is cooler in the mornings and cooler in the evenings. Generally speaking it is a nice period to be outside and active. I went for a two hour suburban tramp this morning without the feeling of sweat running down my back. This is how mornings should be.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Zaraz Khan

I'm not quite a pacifist but have extremely mixed feelings no war. Especially when wars explode with an unwritten pretext. Being in China slightly takes away your scope of the lead up to events. China is after all a very inward looking country, even when it's staring outward. The first news about the Libyan war I remember was that the Chinese government was evacuating all 60,000 nationals from the country in a very short period of time. "Why are there so many Chinese there??" a student puzzled in Lounge Chat. It is a piece of the puzzle, the massive diplomatic and economic internationalisation of China, that most of China are unaware of. Economically China is extrememly international. And beside we all learn more about the world through America's wars, and even about ourselves.
Wars, though: The flags wave. Guns splitter. The media flickers. The anti-war people splutter. The rulers family are hunted. People's lives runs red in the streets. It's the devil's circus. A compelling one, at that. There is always one aspect of America's wars (and probably the war's of others, but allow me this indulgence) that was particularly offensive to me and it comes from great TV programme in China which finally gave me a name to get closer to linking it to the true inhumanity of it.
Zaraz Khan was a tall Afghani, he was famed in his small village for it. He walked out into the desert with two other gentlemen with him, purpose unknown. Does the fact that we don't know where he was going lessen what comes next? There is not much next because a missile from an unmanned Predator drone obliterated him and his companions. The people behind the obliteration of a completely innocent human were talking at ease. "Yeah, we spotted him with the drone. He was tall, and we knew Osama was tall. And he was dressed like Osama so we got the order to fire."  The obsenity of it is the manner in which people weigh up the lives of others. Zaraz died because he went for a walk, was tall and dressed like a devout muslim. But his killers showed no remorse. It is not hard to find other cases of unmanned (and probably manned) bombers too. Of course, apologists could say that the other side shows little distinction between those military and those civilian. It doesn't quite gel to me: you don't go to the level of your opponent; and the stronger power has the ability to be cleaner with their actions. This kind of slaughter justifies the 9/11 event. The scale in this particular example is different but the obscene result is the same: innocent, truly innocent people burning in the indiscriminate destructive forces of those wishing to kill.