29 March 2010

Monday Media Center: Grab Your Spacesuit We're Going to China

     No one was more offended than I, bookish introverted classic that I was when I moved from a top tier traditional classroom to a modern open concept school that didn't have a library, but a media center.  I determined for myself, as a fifth grader, that media center was the same as library with fewer books.
     But that is another story.
     Since it is only right that I learn all I can about the culture of any person we bring into our family, I have become a C+ student of all things Chinese.  As such, I have been looking at anything remotely current that is available at our local public media center.
     I have happened upon a book by a man who has traveled extensively and found himself with a the opportunity to observe China for several months.  Leaving wife and sons and a flagging American economy behind, J. Maarten Troost took off to China for a few months, to try to understand and describe the culture to his future readers.  Are you laughing yet?  China is in no way a place that could be understood in a few months or even years.  It is a complex nation and sometimes doesn't seem even to understand itself.
     While screamingly funny, Troost is a true modern artist in "F-bomb".  If you are the least sensitive to foul language, this is probably as good a place as any to let you go ahead and we will see you next week.   I acknowledge that I should be more offended than I am.  But I am fairly immature, so I giggle at a number of things I ought not to.
     OT again, so sorry, but what I started out to say is that I learned quite an awful lot about China culture and history and got some travel tips for my return trip(while most families visit the pets market in Guangzhou, based on what I learned, I will more than likely avoid it if there is any way to do so).  Troost observed many of the same things that we observed last year--the choking air, the demolition derby driving, and the shocking obliviousness to the filth(and its possible connection to your health).
     My belief system and Troost's couldn't be more different(religiously or politically. On most other things, it seems we both live in America and that has shaped us similarly).  Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation * made the things we agreed on all the more entertaining ("hey, let's not pee in the street, how 'bout" and "no, I've had beef before and that is not what this is") , and may have even helped me understand the ideas on which we differ(a life skill no doubt).  I enjoyed finding a lighthearted source for serious information, and in no way am I going to order my own food or take the boat ride to get a closer look at North Korea.
     I really was grateful for Troost's respectful treatment of the truth about the "Cultural Revolution" and all things Mao Zedong.  It is a gift indeed that he should lay it on the line while still delivering the information in a way that doesn't judge anybody, really.

      So, since I really would like someone to share the funny with, I am sharing with you.  If you are not inclined to read a book this edgy, stay tuned...

*I have run into the don't steal my photo thing again.  Only in that, I can't figure out how to do it any other way than illegally, so there is not a picture.

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