Thursday, July 9, 2009

There's Something in the Air

I mean that literally, as well. With sliceable humidity levels and air quality on par with a fumigated apartment, there really has been something in the air. You can feel it on your skin and, after a bike ride, at the bottom of your lungs, too.

Speaking of Beijing respiratory health, it's been brought to my attention that the US embassy has started a twitter feed from their personal monitoring apparatus. If you're curious, take a gander here. And if you want to correlate the numbers with some fun guidelines, click here. Paint yourself a pretty picture.

On the metaphorical side, there's been a tangible aggression sweeping across the busy boulevards and dusty streets. The picture below, taken on Wednesday, is a microcosm of the ill mood taking over the city. There's something in the air.

And, given the unrest in Urumqi, it's just a small stretch to see this momentary irritability as a pan-Chinese phenomenon. A fire has been started and there just happens to be a lot of loose tinder in the heart of Xinjiang province. And while the official story is soap-operatic, with rumors and rape and revenge leading up to an ethnic clash in the streets, let's not discount the forces we don't fully understand, e.g. an imminent solar eclipse of massive proportions. And some people are informing me that "China's going to hell in a handbasket," but I must say I think that these rumors are exaggerated. Moreover, the Happy Sheep Fun Time News Channel tells me that everything is fine. And I feel fine. Alles ist in Ordnung. Gong bao ji ding, please.

But finally, we must consider this. Adding to the system of signs, yet another remarkable crazy lamp has reared its head in a nearby park. Let's hope it's a harbinger of softer days to come. I'm escaping from the city over the weekend, but before I leave I'll be sure to deposit an offering of baijiu and sunflower seeds at the foot of the multi-colored beast. And I'm off.


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