Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rhetorical Question: Are the Chinese excited to host the Olympic Games?



Shenzhen is 1300 miles from Beijing as the crow flies. These people were all waiting to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch as it passes through Shenzhen. This stifling, crowded street was as close as most will ever come to the games themselves.




This crowd is just a teeny-tiny-toothpick-tidbit-taste of what Beijing will be like. I'm not usually a nervous person, but the sheer size and exuberance of this crowd gave me pause. We were packed in so tightly that we couldn't see a thing except the sweaty backs of the herd of people in front of us. All I kept thinking was no way out. No Way Out! EEK! I may need a stash of Xanax to make it through the actual games...



I consoled myself with the knowledge that at the Games we will have tickets with assigned seats, a destination, and a plan whereas on this street in Shenzhen there was complete mayhem. Every tiny man for himself. I'm quite certain that the vast majority of people saw exactly what we saw: the back of other people's heads as they hopped up and down in the vain hope of getting a glimpse of something, anything, even vaguely Olympic. A great wave of excitement passed through the crowd, lots of cheering and general hopping, but it was nothing more than a giant Samsung Float making the most of the vast money it spent to become an official 2008 Olympic Sponsor.



The solution for a few brave or foolhardy souls was to climb into the trees and onto the lamp posts. Once one fellow had successfully completed this feat, his friends began to join him and things began to sway dangerously. I couldn't help but think of Zacchaeus, with whom I have always felt kinship as a short person.

Ultimately, we decided that we weren't going to be able to see a thing and that our best plan of action was to get back on the Subway before the mass exodus began.

What was so thrilling about this experience was the joy and excitement that Chinese people feel for this event. It means so much to them to have their country recognized and admired on the world stage. Perhaps the struggle and poverty of the very recent past (and present, in many places)make this moment all the sweeter for those who have survived the difficulties. This is a moment to celebrate China's progress and hopes for the future, and no one here in Shenzhen is going to let that moment pass them by.

1 comment:

j. said...

Xanax?

I could just hoist you on my shoulders ala a rock and roll festival...

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