Friday, December 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I came across an excellent speech on HaoHao Report by a Chinese writer Murong Xuecun (慕容雪村). Just as I'm beginning to lose all hope in the strong nation, Mr. Murong's speech has swayed me a little bit in the direction that there is perhaps still a silver lining. Or is there?
Here's the link to Mr. Murong's speech (in both Chinese and English):-
Some trenchant passages:-
"In my country, the government claims to have eradicated classes, but in reality, class divisions are glaringly obvious. The highest class enjoys exclusively produced foods while the lower classes are left to consume contaminated and dangerous products. Children of the dominant class study at opulent private schools, while children of the second-class study at ordinary schools. The third class attend shabby schools for migrant workers and the fourth class, well, they don’t get to go to school at all."
"In my country, informing on others is encouraged. The government has a secret dossier on every single citizen which records everything about us until the day we die—from innocent remarks about us to unsubstantiated accusations as well as many things we don’t even know about ourselves. Secret agents in factories, schools and residential neighbourhoods covertly record everything people say and do. The atmosphere is oppressive—people do not trust the government, employees do not trust employers, students don’t trust teachers, and wives do not trust husbands."
"In my country, writing is a dangerous occupation. People are sent to prison for writing essays, or saying a few words of truth. Writers are not allowed to talk about history, or to criticise the present, let alone fantasize about the future. Many words cannot be written, many things cannot be spoken, and many issues cannot be mentioned. Every book has to go through a rigid censorship regime before it can be published. Many books are banned in my country, and then become bestsellers overseas."
"My country has one of the largest bureaucracies in the world. Most of these bureaucrats are either bribing or taking bribes. Power is being abused in every way imaginable and turned into a money-generating tool. According to publicly available reports, enormous amounts of public funds are wasted on sumptuous banquets, luxury trips and expensive cars provided to these bureaucrats. We are talking about 900 billion yuan or over US$140 billion a year. Some may ask: Why don’t the taxpayers say no to this practice? I’m sorry, the concept of taxpayers’ rights doesn’t exist in my country. All we have is the term 'the people'."
“This rotten system is the mongrel of Stalinist-Maoism and Imperial Chinese political culture, a cross-breed of the rule of the jungle with traditional Chinese trickery and communism. Decades later, this creature now has become a monster. This monster is vain, tyrannical and arrogant. It never admits to mistakes. It destroys people in the name of justice and rehabilitates them, also in the name of justice. It takes credit for everything positive, and blames others for all failures. It wants to lord over everything and only tolerates one faith, faith in itself. This monster only allows praise to one thing, praise to itself. It owns every newspaper, every school, and every temple. Without its permission, even flowers may not bloom.”
"Despite hardship, more and more Chinese people now are aware of their responsibilities. They break the silence, speak the truth, and calmly make suggestions. Some are suffering for their actions but refuse to be cowered or silenced."
In my opinion, the whole text is worth a thorough read.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
On October 24, I was shocked and pained by a piece of heart-rending news: my beloved cousin G had passed away in September, shortly after undergoing a second round of chemotherapy. The regrettable part is that I hadn’t even had a chance to communicate with her while she was fighting for her life, as I had had to feign ignorance in order to respect her wish that the news of her sickness be kept strictly confidential, though I had known by chance for some time. I only learned of her death when I emailed her younger sister GG on that Monday to ask how G was doing. This post is to bid a belated farewell to my beloved cousin.
G had been my trusted friend and ally throughout our early youth. That night after hearing the heartbreaking news, I cried in bed and couldn’t go to sleep. All I could think of was the image of G in a photo taken when she was a teenager: she was smiling sweetly with one of her hands stretched upwards to touch an apple ….. Then scene after scene of the times we spent together in our youth flashed through my mind.
When I was around nineteen, one day I had a big fight with my father, as he had been verbally abusing everybody nonstop at the dinner table in one of his habitual intoxicated bouts. Infuriated that I had the nerve to throw some water in his face, he picked up a wooden stool and hurled it at me. It missed me by an inch and my mother urged me to go into the bedroom while trying to restrain him. I was distraught and called J (our phone was installed in the bedroom), one of my male cousins from another family, and told him what had happened. He advised me to go to G’s home. So I did.
G, GG and their two other sisters all studied at Maryknoll Sisters’ School. Coming from a well-to-do family, G never came across as snobbish or conceited. On the contrary, she was one of the most endearing, kind-hearted and considerate persons I had ever known. When their father and J’s mother and mine (they were first cousins; J’s mother and mine were sisters) had reunited after a long period of separation and the children had begun getting acquainted with each other, the adults used to say that G and I looked very much alike and had similar temperament. She, J and I were all born in the same month and same year.
At that point in my life, G, J, GG, JJ (J’s younger brother) and I were very close to one another. One of our favorite pass-times in autumn was to go hiking in the wooded area surrounding Wongneichong Reservoir, sometimes together with one or two of J’s schoolmates from Wah Yan College. J would bring along his guitar and we would sing folk songs when we stopped to rest. We all loved the crisp fresh air and the soul-calming green scenery. When we got tired from the walking and singing, we would walk slowly back to G’s and GG’s home on Blue Pool Road, where their mother (my aunt) would treat us to delicious snacks and tea and we would play with G’s cuddly youngest brother. Those were the days …. Sadly, we soon lost JJ to leukemia. He was only seventeen when he died. That was my first taste of the meaning of death and it was unnerving.
That dreadful day (I think it was a Saturday or Sunday, as I didn’t have to work and my cousins didn’t have to go to school), I went to G’s home to seek temporary refuge from my father’s wrath. My aunt tactfully left the two of us in private in the bedroom that G and her elder sister shared. In her quiet ways, she showed her sympathy and asked if I would like to lie down for a while. When I said I’d rather talk a little, she pulled up a chair and listened intently to my story. Then she tried to distract and comfort me by offering to play some piano pieces and encouraged me to learn playing a simple piece.
It was while studying at the U. of Wisconsin that G fell in love with a guy F.
Not long after that, I heard that she had fallen into a lovelorn state and was very depressed. Knowing that she was prone to keeping a stoic front, I felt it was best to just be in her company whenever an occasion allowed. At one of the gatherings, I was reposing on a bed beside her and tried to encourage her to talk. She only lay there with her big eyes wide open, speechless and expressionless. I could feel that underneath her armor of indifference, her pain was seeping out of every pore. From the corner of my eyes, I could detect her desperate struggle to fight back tears. It broke my heart to see her like this. But I was sure that she could also feel that I cared deeply. Shortly thereafter, she went on a date with one of her cousins and the two became steady. He would later become her husband.
In the early 1970s, G emigrated to the United States with her parents and siblings. In 1975, I emigrated to Toronto and in that summer took a greyhound down to New York to visit G and GG. They came to meet me at the greyhound station and we were thrilled to see each other. Everyday during my 3-day stay there, G and GG showed me around the wonderful city and on two evenings, G prepared delicious home-cooked meals for us. When the day came for me to depart, G got up early to bake some marshmallow rice cake squares and wrapped them up neatly in foil. Without me noticing, she slipped the wrapped squares into my overnight shoulder bag. On the boring journey home, I thanked G in my heart for her thoughtfulness.
The last time I had a chance to see G was in 1997 when she came back to Hong Kong with her family (her husband, a son and a daughter) for a vacation. We had a great time doing catching up on a yacht outing arranged by JS (J’s elder brother) and at cousins’ reunion dinners.
A couple of years ago, I had already lost JS, also to lung cancer. He was 65 when he passed away. Both JS and G underwent chemotherapy. In both cases, when the cancer was detected, it was already in stage 4. From what I gathered, they both suffered hugely the side effects of chemotherapy. I’ve recently read a blog post by a Chinese pathologist with special interest in oncology, which says that cancer in a late stage can neither be treated nor eliminated and that it would be much preferable to focus efforts on the patients’ quality of life rather than on treatment. I don’t know how authentic he is but I’m inclined to believe him. Above all, I think the patients’ own wish to do one thing or the other should be respected and the doctors should be forthcoming in explaining in depth the side effects of the intended treatment.
I think I can understand why G had not wanted too many people to know about her sickness. For one thing, there would be little that friends and relatives, close or not close, could do to help her. Being the always-considerate person that she was, she would naturally not want people to worry about her, especially her aging mother. My heart goes out to her close family members who had to watch her suffer great pains in her last days. Picturing this lovable person going through agonizing moments in the final stage of her life is just unbearable for me. It brings back the torturous feeling of helplessness and despair when I watched my own mother withering and suffering noxious side effects from radiotherapy and eventually losing the fight.
My dear cousin, goodbye for now. Rest assured that you will always be in my heart.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
If Paris could be likened to a mature lady of understated glamour in elegant poise, with a certain savoir-faire that comes from a polished culture and living with the best, then an apt symbol for the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) would be an unworldly youthful dame of great verve and beauty with an infinite power of imagination. By the end of the 19th century, the Cote d’Azur was already a magnet for inspiration-seeking artistic painters and writers, who were drawn there by the balmy weather, paradise-like scenery, bright colors and clear lights. Since then, it has become a mecca for world-wide tourists in search of reveries.
The five-and-a-half-hour TGV (high-speed train) trip from Paris to Nice (on September 20) didn’t feel that long, probably because of one’s excitement and yearning for the destination. My plan was to make Nice our home base and to take daily excursion trips to nearby Riviera towns. Thus I had chosen a hotel very near to the Nice-Ville train station.
As the train sped past unending expanses of vineyards and farmland, which were punctuated by an occasional industrial hub, one couldn’t but sense that the wine and agricultural industries must be a vital part of the French economy. Official data say that over 60 percent of the land in France is used for agricultural purposes, the country is self-sufficient in food supplies and that it is a leading agricultural exporter in the European Union and the world’s second largest agricultural producer after the United States.
My own wild guess is that wine and agricultural exports may well have been the country’s key economic stabilizer in recent times of global financial turmoil. Only myopic nations and cities would give short shrift to agricultural farming. This reminds me of the Hong Kong youngsters who formed the Land Justice League and who mooted the point of returning village and country land to farming mode. Something tells me that they are the visionary lot. But the question is, how many Hong Kongers are sensible enough to heed their voice?
As the train journey drew towards its end, meandering stretches of sky-blue coastal waters adorned with a lone sail or two and charming seaside resorts were in sight through the train’s windows.
It was mid-afternoon when we set foot in the magical city of Nice. The Provencal sun was smiling warmly on us. What better thing to do than to take to the legendary Promenade des Anglais right away? From our hotel, it would take us less than fifteen minutes to walk down to the seaside. We took Rue Berlioz and then continued on Rue de Rivoli, at the end of which stood the palatial Hotel Negresco which dates back to 1912 and which graces a lot of Nice’s postcards.
There, the sweeping vista of the scintillating, sapphire blue Mediterranean washed over us! From afar, the deep purple blue sea melded with the cloudless cerulean sky and rushed towards us in an astounding azure, changing into a lighter shade of azure as it neared, then into a crystal light blue nearest the shore. The subtle blend of different nuances of blue was so magical that it simply left one in wordless awe at the wonders of nature. Against the changing hues of blue, the off-white pebble beaches were dotted with jovial, colorfully clad bathers and sun bathers, young and old, many with an enviable healthy tan.
Our first meal in Nice was taken at a family-run eatery on a street parallel to the Promenade des Anglais (I forgot the name of the street) and consisted of hearty omelettes aux champignons and salade Nicoise (romaine greens, tomatoes, tuna, anchovies and hard-boiled eggs, dressed in vinaigrette). The portions served were huge and we enjoyed both the meal and the friendly service.
The next morning was spent browsing the Marche aux Fleurs (flower market) and the food market in Cours Selaya, which runs parallel to the Quai des Etats-Unis, followed by a late lunch at one of the seafood restaurants in the market and an exploring visit to the Vieille Ville (Old Town).
The markets en plein air simply oozed with colors and activities. Freshly cut flowers and robustly growing plants of every imaginable species and shade of color were vying for shoppers’ pick. Souvenirs of lavender pouches and lavender soap were in abundance and reasonably priced, as were colorful fruits and vegetables, honey, fruit preserves, aromatic dried mushrooms, bon bons, nougats, pastries, raw fish fillets and other kinds of seafood. I was so drawn to the aroma from the stall that sold dried mushrooms that I had to buy some cepes and some mousserons, both types of which burst with fragrance.
For our late lunch/dinner, we had spaghetti with seafood and a big pot of mussels cooked in garlic sauce at a restaurant called “Paradice”. The restaurant owner was engaged and friendly and gave us a big jar of water for free. He smiled profusely when I offered courteous compliments for the exquisite cuisine.
The Old Town consists of a maze of narrow cobblestone streets in which hide a host of quaint small shops that sell all sorts of merchandises. Some of the shop owners even make their own products. I bought a pastel-color shoulder bag made from irregular pieces of quilts of matching color sewn together. All the bags and sacs are hand-made by the lady shop owner. At another shop, my friend bought a pair of psychedelic colored culottes made in Tunisia. As we wandered around, we were attracted by the deeply resonant singing voice of an amiable old lady who had her hair wrapped in an Arcadian blue-and-white scarf, dressed in a pinafore over a demure frock and carrying a woven basket, and who likely performs regularly in the square for free. Patrons of nearby plein air cafes rewarded her with hearty rounds of applause. It was easy to be lost in the heart-warming ambiance of the place.
The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting on one of the sea side benches and gazing out into the sprawling stretch of twinkling sapphire blue and conjuring up wild daydreams.
The next day (September 22) we took a mid-morning SNCF train to Monaco. Unfortunately, direction signs in the Gare Monte Carlo were sorely lacking and not user-friendly. It felt like the Municipality was trying to give train travelers a snub. I found it difficult to navigate out of the train station and we ended up using the most inconvenient exit.
Once outside the station, we followed Rue Grimaldi and walked down Rue Princess Caroline to reach the seaside promenade. It happened that the 2011 Monaco Yacht Show had just kicked off the day before (September 21) and it was the second day of the big event. The Route de la Piscine was packed with people and vehicle traffic. By vehicle I mean Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis, Porsches, Jaguars, Bentleys, Mercedes and the like. Port Hercule was bristling with new shiny yachts and the show would include 100 megayachts of up to 90 meters, as I would later find out.
We ordinary folks of course didn’t come for the show. So on we ambled in the embrace of glorious sunshine and light sea breeze, which everyone could enjoy, thank God. We were so mesmerized by the postcard-perfect view of the Mediterranean that we walked right past the Monte Carlo Casino without knowing. It was only when we reached Plage du Larvotto that we realized this. So back we turned on Avenue Princess Grace until we came to the Grimaldi Forum, where a display of luxuriant carpets and rugs of the finest craftsmanship was being hosted. From here we moved to the neighboring Jardin Japonais (Japanese Garden) and savored the tranquil oasis in the midst of the opulent resort hub. The bamboo fences, the Tea House, the stone lanterns, the little red wooden bridge, the waterfall and the pond were all imbued with a “Zen” air of soothing calm.
The day’s tour ended with a brief visit to the casino complex perched high and mighty on the hillside, where we fed our eyes on an amazing view of the port while enjoying a delicious scoop of ice cream at the tourist-packed, fountains-furnished Jardin du Casino. As the majestic main casino was not yet open, I just satisfied myself with a quick tour of the American one, which was no different from any Macau or Las Vegas counterpart. My friend didn’t bother to join me.
Compared to earthy yet not-of-this-earth Nice, Monte Carlo is without doubt of the “regal” category. The comparison is like one between Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly in their prime. My preference should be quite obvious.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Paris and the French Riviera are very much like fish and bear’s paw in the popular Chinese aphorism (魚與熊掌, 不可兼得) – I would never want to have to choose between them. In the past couple of weeks, in the company of a friend, I had a chance to savor them both to my heart’s content. On this self-pampering trip, which I hope I well deserve (I haven’t had a long vacation since 1999), we stayed four nights in Paris and six nights in Nice. During the sojourn in Nice, we visited towns on the Cote d’Azur by train, including Monte Carlo in Monaco, Cannes, St. Raphael, Antibes and Marseille.
It’s been thirty-five years since my first visit to Paris. The stunning city that once made my heart throb has no doubt aged, but only with grace and elegance. My love for the city was rekindled the moment I stepped into it.
Like all other great metropolises, Paris has not been spared the usual environmental scarring like air and noise pollution. Yet it has managed to retain a certain air of serenity and complacence in the midst of maddening growth and development over the last several decades. Despite all its trials and tribulations, it has stubbornly clung onto its old charm. In the unstoppable rush towards modern-day globalization and commercialization, the unshakable cultural roots of the French nation have proudly kept the glorious city in steady balance.
There’s perhaps no better place to have a glimpse of the French lifestyle than the colorful and vivacious open air marches (markets).
During our stay in Paris, we visited the Marches de L’Opera Bastille on Boulevard Richard Lenoir on a Sunday (these markets open only on Thursdays and Sundays). The place was literally packed by ten o’clock in the morning. Vendors of all sorts displayed their plethora of food and merchandise on makeshift canopy-covered tables arranged neatly in several rows, leaving pedestrian corridors in between. Eager shoppers were busy browsing and looking for the food or product they wanted to buy. The enticing aroma of freshly baked baguettes and croissants filled the market and tells that the French are really into such staple food. Strangely, it also brought to mind the image 35 years ago of Parisians strolling down a quiet street in St. Germain des Pres in the early morning, carrying long baguettes under their arms (I was staying at a hostel in the area). At some delicacies stalls, samples of goose liver and duck liver/meat pate were being freely offered to interested passers-by. Cheeses and pastas came in an abundant selection. Vibrant colored fruits and vegetables and mouth-watering smells of roast chickens were competing for the attention of lookers-on and shoppers alike. Vendors of fish fillets, prawns, shrimps and mussels attracted long lines of buyers. Other goods on sale ranged from scarves, clothes, shoes, accessories, to kitchen utensils, pottery, linens, plants, etc. etc.
On the day before (a Saturday), when we passed by the Place de la Bastille, there was a musical parade of floats and youngsters were dancing joyously on the streets. It was hard to picture that just a few months earlier, riot police had had to put down a protest that emulated the Spanish anti-austerity demonstrations. The protest had taken place on the steps of the Bastille Opera House, right next to where these rapturous markets were held.
Being used to the suffocating crowds of skyscrapers bearing down on the city of Hong Kong, my friend and I both found it was a breath of fresh air to see a clear and uncluttered skyline in Paris as we sat admiring the city’s panoramic view, along with hundreds of others, on the flights of steps leading up to the Sacre Coeur cathedral in Montmartre. We chuckled and imagined what Paris would look like if Hong Kong’s developers were to “invade” the city. Much of how Paris looks today, with all its enormous squares, plazas, straight and wide tree-lined boulevards, public parks, beautiful building facades of quarry stones and standardized building height, is owed to the 19th century architect Baron Georges Eugene Haussmann, with the support of Napoleon III in the Second Empire era. My favorite are the artistically patterned wrought iron balcony railings that embellish those buildings. I do believe that long-term vision in urban planning pays.
A pantomime artist draped in white cloth from head to toe with his face painted all white was seen doing his stuff standing on top of a railing baluster at the bottom of one flight of steps. Tourists were lining up to have photos taken with him. A newly-wed couple were walking ceremoniously down the steps, the groom dressed in a cream-color safari suit and the bride in a bare-shoulder, body-hugging white lace gown with a short train. There weren’t any guests and they seemed to be quite happy with just the photographer taking pictures of them. When they kissed, spectators (us included) gave a generous round of congratulatory applause. In a city (or country) where people’s liberty is sacrosanct, this is just another day.
Le Marais was certainly on my list of places to visit. Hotel de Sens, Village St. Paul, Musee Carnavalet, fashionable Rue des Francs Bourgeois, Rue des Rosiers where restaurants cluster and historic Place des Vosges were all worth our time. This is one district that was not touched by the Haussmann renovations and is marked by interesting narrow streets.
Another day was spent walking down Quai des Tuileries and Avenue des Champs Elysees. I paid a visit to Musee De L’Orangerie to admire Claude Monet’s wondrous water lilies.
I have to admit that the famous Avenue des Champs Elysees no longer awed me like it had 35 years ago. The heavy flow of traffic made it a nuisance rather than pleasure to stroll down the avenue. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could enjoy a cup of coffee at the curb-side cafes with vehicle emissions filling one’s nostrils.
When we reached the Arc de Triomphe, we took the Avenue d’Iena to Pont Iena, which was at the foot of Tour Eiffel. There, we wound up the day by taking a “Batobus” (like a water taxi) to go back to our hotel, which was located at a walking distance from the Jardin des Plantes stop.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Hong Kong emigrants who fled the city for fear of Communist rule and subsequently returned to their place of origin realize they were deluded by a superficial calm.
In the years after Margaret Thatcher’s ominous Beijing visit, during which the iron lady took a fall down the steps outside the People’s Great Hall, Hong Kongers had spent most of their time worrying sick about the imminent draconian rule under the Communists and agitating over whether or not they should emigrate to Canada or Australia. Shortly after the 1997 handover, many of those who had emigrated chose to join the “return tide” back to Hong Kong when they saw that the way of life, systems and everything appeared to have remained intact, well in accordance with the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984.
Now, fourteen years have passed since the handover. Returnees have watched with their own eyes how fast Hong Kong has been speeding down the degradation highway, in terms of the freedoms they were used to in colonial days and the administration’s respect for civic rights, the robustness of the legal system, and the restraint exercised by the police force in times of turmoil. Instead of seeing “one country, two systems” being played out, they are witnessing that promise turned into tatters, with mainland’s master-slave mentality and paternalistic governing style replacing civilized, rational and open governance that is grounded in Hong Kong’s core values.
Every now and then there are street protests expressing deep disgust with a callous, condescending, self-interested and money-prostituting government that has been obtuse and unresponsive to popular demands on everyday life issues as well as political reforms.
Everyday life issues range from excessive speculation in the property market due to continual money influx from the mainland, to urgent and unmet housing needs of the low- to middle-income class as reflected in the rapid rise of the number of box-like subdivided rooms with inherent fire risks being rented, to rampant consumer price inflation caused partly by runaway property rental increases and partly by the strengthening Yuan, to a deepening rift between the haves and the have-nots, to youngsters’ disillusionment with social mobility and an economy that is getting more and more lopsided with ever diminishing job fields.
On the political front, as recently revealed in some cable documents provided by WikiLeaks (for the link, please go to the end of this post), CE Tsang disclosed to the U.S. consul general in 2005 that he was not supportive of elections by universal suffrage, as it would mean for non-taxpayers taking over political control from the taxpayers. Instead of fighting on behalf of Hong Kongers for full-fledged democracy, the CE actually sold them down the river behind closed doors. Is that his way of saying that he wanted to back the affluent at the expense of the needy? Why is that not surprising?
Society has long been pissed at being force fed the SAR government’s self-devised poisonous potion that is meant to kill citizens’ voting rights in by-elections by changing the rules. Hong Kongers are also shocked at the police force under the leadership of another Tsang using high-handed tactics and acting more and more like their overbearing mainland counterparts in their treatment of peaceful street protesters and activists. In the incident of Li Keqiang’s visit to the Hong Kong University on the occasion of the university’s 100th anniversary, policemen forcefully prevented reporters and university students from accessing Li and set up a so-called “core security zone” in the university compound (the legality of which is still being questioned). To top it all, the incumbent CE and CE-aspirants have had the nerve to back a police chief who has aroused a public uproar targeting what is alleged to be his impudent abuse of power. Recent police actions smack of a brazen attempt to trample on press freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, which are some of Hong Kong’s core values that are guaranteed under the Basic Law.
To further blight press freedom and freedom of expression, the infamous and omnipresent 50-cent gangsters hired by those in power are out and about to smear pan-democrats and their allies, obfuscate intellectual discussions on government policies on online forums, conflate social and political issues and generally seek to hide truths under blatant lies, hoping (naively) to fool all Hong Kong people.
What most Hong Kongers had feared would begin happening fourteen years ago are suddenly appearing full frontal. It looks like there is no escape from the fact that Hong Kongers’ freedoms are being forcibly taken away chunk by chunk, not to mention they will be forever denied democratic elections by universal suffrage. It wouldn’t be surprising if one day in the not-too-distant future, when Hong Kongers wake up, they find themselves under house watch, with mafia-looking “shengguans” (城管) patrolling right outside their apartments.
It is a matter of when those who were in the “return tide” will start questioning whether it is worth their while to linger on in the place they returned to. The worst fears that had taunted them over two decades ago are all of a sudden very real. But they are still the luckier ones because they have a choice.
Link to the WikiLeaks cable, see here.
Link to an earlier post: "Can you Hear Her Cry for Help?"
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Many an ancient hero buried in its sweep.
Was fought Zhou Yu’s Battle of Red Cliffs;
Angry waves that ripped shores, churning up snowy foam.
Such a picturesque country,
So full of gallant men in times of old.
He must've looked valiant, with Xiaoqiao his new bride;
His enemies crushed to dust as he joked.
But I’m just a young white-haired bloke.