Friday, December 18, 2009

That's China - Kunming, China

(Spring 2006) 
We've finally found a place to stay. Three spacious bedrooms, a huge living hall. It's at the fifth floor and there is no lift, but you can get hypnotized by the view on the Green Lake. We don't know who used to live here and for how long it's been vacant, but the floors and the furniture are in a pitiful state. The agency recommends a cleaning firm. Three thin men arrive, with jackets and moccasins, a couple of buckets, sponges, rags. We're struck dumb by the scene and we think of the mantra that people have kept telling us since we arrived. If something doesn't make sense it's because...that's China...

For a couple of hours they pretend they're cleaning. At first we say something but then we drop it. When it's time to leave they seem to be in a hurry, they nervously smile and then bounce down the stairs. We look at each other and we say it loud, the explanation must definitely be: "That's China!" We look around to see what they have done. They didn't really clean the place, but at least they've scratched the first layer away.

The following day I open a drawer and fish out the bag where I keep my cash. Of all the objects that were in the house this must be the one they have cleaned the best. They haven't even left a renminbi inside.

Also stories like this one have something to teach. The expression "that's China" is not a universal key and at the end for some aspects the whole world is a village.

Photo "Green lake from a window", by Fabio Pulito

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