21 April 2009

Something Old, Something New

Living in China at this moment in its history is really an amazing experience ... it truly is an inflection point, in which opportunities that never existed in the past are now open to hundreds of millions of people. I often think about the older generations that lived through the Cultural Revolution ... what an amazing sight Shanghai's skyline must be to someone from the countryside.

When I am out in the morning, sometimes I will see something that really drives home that contrast between old and new. For instance, this morning I passed by the park on my way to work, as I do every day. As usual, the older folks in the neighborhood were out doing their calisthenics. One man in particular that I watched going through the slow, graceful moves of tai chi suddenly broke his pose, reached into his pocket and answered his mobile phone! Its this kind of juxtaposition that I find really interesting

You can also find some interesting mash-ups of old and new in the Chinese language itself. One of my favorites is the Chinese word for elevator ...

'dian ti' ... or ... 电梯

the word literally translates as 'electric ladder'

Its not only a great mnemonic for remembering the meaning of the word, but it also exemplifies well the way China meshes the old with new

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