Friday, August 26, 2011

Street Scenes From A Chinese Village

Lest you begin to think that our experience out in the countryside was all about dog bites, we want to document what various aspects of life look like in the kinds of places that hundreds of millions (yes, hundreds of millions!) of Chinese people still call home. These are places far away from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other mega-cities. These are places where peasants are farming and subsisting on the proverbial (and sometimes literal) dollar-a-day.

These three photos show a typical street in a village where there is no industry. Rather, residents (who include unusually large numbers of women, due the migration of many working men to the construction jobs of the big cities) tend to various crops, including cotton, peanuts, melons and squashes, and sunflowers (a popular snack and cooking oil ingredient).

This village and street may not seem all that impoverished to you. After all, there is a small car and some mopeds present in the images. We often feel the same way when looking back on the pictures we have taken.

That's when our other senses take over, and we think back to how the village presented itself in real time, through our eyes, ears, and noses. All of that dirt. The noise of the old-school crank engines that constantly belch black puffs of smoke. The smells of the waste in wells just beneath our feet.

Yes, there is no apparent, immediate hunger in this village. But places such as this constitute a world that not many people ever get the chance to see with their own eyes. I'm not talking here about westerners such as ourselves. What I mean is that portion of China that has come of age in cities during the past couple of decades, during China's amazingly rapid ascent onto the world stage. There is another China out there, folks. And it does not remotely resemble the world in which we live our relatively well-off lives...


Make That Ten Shots!

As many of you know, the rabies vaccination is a series of shots. As I went back to the hospital for my eighth and second to last shot, by that point I had been cured of my fear of shots.

(Editor's note: As a kid, Z once famously hid out under a table in the doctor's office, trying to avoid a needle!]

With no fear, I went in, pulled up my sleeve, and waited for the nurse. The nurse wiped the spot where she was to put the needle and inserted the syringe. Immediately, the syringe turned red as it filled up with blood. The nurse had accidentally put the needle into a blood vessel.

The nurse quickly pulled the needle out, because if the rabies vaccine went into my blood, as the nurse described it, "The reaction would be drastic."

After many apologies and after talking with the doctor, the nurse said that she would fill a new syringe and inject it into my other arm. The nurse was so worried about what had happened that she made another nurse do the injection. And so I walked away with not one, but two holes in my arms...