Monday, 8 November 2010

Cleaning and Protesting

Today we witnessed two things I feel I must share. One is China at its best, the other at possibly its worst...

The better event is that here in Nanjing, the government has a street-cleaning van drive around every now and then to spray water on the roads and 'clean' them. You don't normally get wet if you're on the pavement, but if you're cycling next to the road at the time, you get a nice little sprinkle. Usually you are informed of their approach in advance though, thanks to a handy little tune the van pumps out - a bit like an ice cream van, only edgier. This tune once upon a time went like 'doo-doo-doo-dooooo' but today, yes today, they changed the tune to JINGLE BELLS!!! I was most excited. It's like seeing the coca-cola adverts on TV back at home - you know it's nearly Christmas time when the street cleaning van changes its choon to Jingle Bells.

(Fig. 1:It looks a bit like this)

The lesser event of today was that we witnessed our first protest here in Nanjing. At first I thought it was a Chinese police officer's day out - there was literally about 200 officers, no word of a lie. They were stood around in what looked like a solid square, a solid square of police officers on their picnic day. But when we got closer we could see inbetween the officer legs were ordinary Chinese citizens sat on the floor, and they were in fact being surrounded by the police, three officers deep at least... shocker. We wondered whether it was the street vendors protesting about being forcably moved on from their selling hotspots (as that's what we've been hearing recently) but sadly we were too chicken to get too close to investigate. There were even three buses stood waiting, ready for all the policemen to go home in. We walked past as slow as possible and then escaped into McDonalds to get a McFlurry and hide from the law in peace. When we'd hid enough to feel safe, we went back around the crowds to get to the subway, and they had started chanting!! Modern China is a changing place it seems... 

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