There are things we intend to do and things we do. Or as folks have been arguing about since Kant changed the rules of the game, we have our thoughts and we have our deeds and which is the more valuable domain is what keeps the prose flowing. I have my opinion on the matter and would love to share it-but another time. Because the above is simply a way of saying that while I intended to keep this post updated frequently, I have fallen far short of that goal. The good news is that most of the delayed posts are partly written and only awaiting a pause in the ceaseless Chinese language study to finish up. The better news is that rather and keep waiting and waiting to finish the posts from weeks back, I am going to throw order to the wind and start throwing posts up as soon as they are done, order be damned.
So the flirtatious French girls, Egyptian weight lifter and a lowdown on how Beijing's environment really is (pardon the interruption, but in the crush of commentary on this issue, do you think any of the writers have actually gone for a run in Beijing? No, I thought not!) will have to wait for the mass of posting planned for this weekend. For now, thoughts on today...
It has been four days since Beijing put its gargantuan net of policies into effect to clean up the air quality and reduce the pollution level before the Games. As my luck would have it, I did not have a chance to run outside earlier this week, when fortune smiled on the organizers and the sky was as blue as the lakes of faraway Tibet. Today I did go for a afternoon run, and sure enough the sky was so gray, that it not only smelled like I was running through old furniture but at times felt like it.
As bad as the air was, that was not what got my attention. Heck the air is that gray pretty much every other day in the capital. The headliner this afternoon was that my corner of Beijing has been transformed: plant sculptures are up everywhere, there are more flowers on the sidewalks than are being sold in Jerusalem on a given erev shabbat (Friday afternoon), and of course, Huanhuan and his friends (the Beijing Games mascots, duh!) are everywhere. On my run through the local park, every lamppost had been bedecked with Olympic flags. Considering this is urban China, where public electric lighting is a national obsession, the only thing that I have witnessed that compares to the fluttering Olympic flags came a few years back when Central Park covered itself in orange banners. As I began my run, a final Olympic banner was being raised in the park. The worker had a pair of hooked claws attached to his shoes that enabled him to hang off the side of the lamppost Spiderman style while he affixed the fabric with Sukka style plastic ties to the metal pole.
But the real attention grabber came at the beginning of my run when I passed the gymnasium that will host women's volleyball in three weeks time. Tomorrow is the first chance in months--and more importantly, the final chance--for locals to purchase tickets to the Games. They go on sale at a variety of city locations at 8am and, as you would expect in a city of 18million plus people, the line as of 6:00 pm is already down the block. I asked a Chinese friend why the people had no sleeping bags or the like. She looked at me incredulously and said "sleep? they wont sleep! If they sleep they will be lucky to find themselves within a few blocks of where they put their head down the night before let alone a chance to get tickets. It is going to be an all night affair."
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