Monday, July 21, 2008

Olympic Madness

Madness, I tell you, sheer madness. Brad and I both really like the Olympics. And we also really like living here. But I'll tell you, the marriage of the two is like the romantic comedies where the boy never gets the girl. On the cover of the DVD, it looks so romantic and sweet and by the end, you wanna throw your shoe at the tv. With only a couple of weeks before the Olympics arrives, we wanted to share a little of how things are changing around here.

Here's Charis and one of the Fu Wa's (literally, "good luck dolls"). You can even see the dirt on her legs in the picture from faraway. We're a mess. Each one represents something Chinese. The red one, "Huan Huan" represents the Olympic flame and the passion of the games. These FuWa's are in a park right across the street from out apt. They've also put up a bunch of new Olympic statues, new flowers, trees, roads, and every shop was required to get a new sign.

The black one, "Jing Jing" represents: the panda and the "harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature."

The Yellow, "Ying Ying": the Tibetan antelope and representing good health. One of the things I really appreciate about China is that they like to use symbols and representations. It makes simple dolls like these much more interesting.

The Green one is "Ni Ni" ": representing the swallow. Many of the kites flown here are modeled after the swallow. It represents good fortune. When you put all their names together, it says "Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni" which means "Bei Jing welcomes you!"

Blue One "BeiBei" : represents the fish and aquatics. And also, "to follow and obtain your dreams." It's Fu Wa mania around town. You see them EVERYWHERE. Cups, trash cans, buses, sidewalks, signs, the list goes on and on. Because people here are so superstitious, it's been eery to hear people link the meanings of the Fu Wa's to the bad year China has had. For example, every Fu Wa is linked to places or things around the country. Every one of them have had a tragedy happen to them this year. A little eery, I must admit.

The torch comes through our city on the 30th, so things are on super high alert right now. For the past week, we've seen tons of 'volunteers' that are walking around patroling and keeping the peace. Many of these are plain clothed citizens. But there are also over 11,000 police partroling the areas. Our city isn't that big, so 11,000 makes quite the presence. That's not counting the soldiers that have come. They are at every street corner, intersection, park, etc. There have also been a few torch practices, where they shut down several roads (including the one right outside our apt.). Police and soldiers are 10 feet apart all down the long road.

These army helicopters have been doing fly overs and drills. A friend told us that on a campus nearby, they have set up an armory. Fully armed with missiles and heavy artiliary. We came back from our trip and found out that all the schools in the entire province are canceled until after the Olympics. Tons of restaraunts, malls, and shops are forced to close. Any type of outdoor vendor (fruit, vegetable, tofu, etc) is either stuffed into a hallway somewhere or just not allowed to be out. It's funny, because now the Olympics has become the "El Nino." People are blaming everything on the coming of the Olympics. A car crash...the Olympics. A bad day.....the Olympics. Bad weather....yep, the Olympics.

So we're hoping the ending to this movie is more beautiful than the beginning. That the boy really will get the girl and all will trot off blissfully into the sunset.
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