Monthly Archives: October 2014

Dancing Grannies

I live on the 5th floor of my apartment complex, and with the cool autumn weather I keep my windows open to save a few RMB and leave the air conditioning off. Every evening directly across the street from me is a public square that sits in front of a open air shopping area and walking mall where local shops and street vendors sell everything from children’s toys to sensual massage. Like clockwork, every evening at about 5:30, the music starts.

Worldwide they are known as dancing grannies. They are not only here in China, but apparently expat Chinese from London to New York are taking over parks and parking lots, bringing this Chinese phenomenom to the world. While some people, both here and abroad, are annoyed by the loud speaker systems that accompany their nightly get-togethers, I find the whole thing deeply endearing. There are three or four generations of Chinese here that gather as a community and enjoy themselves while building trust and ties with strangers that live in and around their neighborhoods.

I have a couple videos I took, and although they are a little dark, you can see all age groups from very young children to the very frail elderly bridging generations, weaving a collective continuity and respect that I have never seen in the States. Another aspect that is simply wonderful is that the children are safe and allowed to play freely, while parents and grandparents, while present, do not have to keep constant vigil on where the young ones are. There are a few perks to living in a heavily policed state where criminals pay dearly. These parents simply do not have the same fears as American parents, which while at times justified, is mostly misguided fear driven by television sensationalism.

The first video is of the line dancing area, where mostly older women with a few younger women mixed in dance while an audience, including me, sit and watch. Little kids run and play throughout and are permitted to be children. They run, they play, they fall down and they get up. All great things that every child should be able to do. This is all done in and among strangers, but strangers who are bound as a community on the local, personal level. It really is wonderful.

My next video is an area, literally right beside the first, where couples and hopefuls dance and mingle to what to my ear is more traditional Chinese music or an occasional live act.

 

There is a third area next to the first two where the little children play and enjoy themselves on minintaure electic cars that are controlled by adults with hand held remotes, similar to bumber cars, all free presumably. I didn’t take any video here because it seemed a little creepy when I started filming other people’s children. Perhaps that is just a sad relic of my Western conditioning.

This goes on every night, and every night I walk through and relish the truly community atmosphere that I sadly haven’t seen back home.

 

The Dogs of Autumn

I have been forced to make a post about dogs. With the increasing middle-class in China, a newfound affluence has begun to change the attitudes towards dogs in China and more and more I see proud owners showcasing their companions. The one-child policy and disposable income means many Chinese are becoming dog lovers like the West, and America in particular, with parents dropping their one kid off to English lessons while they take their dog to the park. For the dogs it is pure kismet, a confluence of disposable income and a one-child policy that means a fortuitous turn of events from their past, because while beloved in the West, pets were long considered a bourgeoisie excess and a symbol of bête noire capitalist frivolity.

Well, times are changing. In celebration of our four-legged friends, I've put together a panoply of dogs large and small. I have not included the feral street dogs that languish along the food streets and down alleyways because I did not want to get close enough to get a good pic with my iPod. The pack here is just the dogs that I've seen in the past two days, I don't know if it is the pleasant weather or because of National Day, but either way the dogs have been on full display.

Here is my coffeeshop dog, grown up a little bit.

 

If you remember, she was a little thinner a few months ago.

As always, her sidekick is on patrol.

 

My Korean store now has a puppy:

Sleeping next to her tennis ball and an Angry Bird to keep her safe.

A smart vet decided to open a new shop in the neighborhood.

 

Here is a nice anonymous women resting in her storefront:

Better than a car alarm:

This Golden Retriever was beautiful. About 9 months and acted like it.

 

Not to exclude other animals, I spotted these two chickens wandering outside my apartment. This is China after all. They won't last long I'm afraid.

There are a lot more dogs around, I just chose the few that I had an easy opportunity to take pictures of. I tried to take some pictures at night, but with the flash off the “shutter speed” on the iPod is too slow and the pictures are blurry. I didn't want to blind everybody with my flash. Oh well.

iPad Breakdown

I haven’t posted in a while because I haven’t been able to. When I updated my iPad to the iOS8 I lost my ability to use my VPN because it was incompatible with the new operating system. In short, I was unable to get through The Great Firewall of China. This is just going to be a short post to see if Blogsy, the blogging app I use, works since the update. Everything has been really functioning poorly or not at all. However, I didn’t update my iPod until I was sure the iPad ran smoothly, which it didn’t. Everything seems to be straightened out now, which is a relief, for the past couple weeks I’ve been using my iPod exclusively.

This week is National Day, China’s 4th of July. My apartment entrance is rather patriotic. The security was intense for everybody.

I think the big celebrations will be tomorrow, Saturday, and I expect to have a lot of images. Like I said, this is just a test post to see if everything is up and running. Everybody has dogs lately, so I’m going to try to make a collection of all the pets. I say pets because there are a lot of street dogs I don’t want to get close to. Below these two are relaxing on the porch/street/store front for National Day.

I should post National Day pics Sunday.