Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A cup of speed

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Our home’s very own Aston Martin dealer (funnily pictured here with a Lamborghini delivered up its drive-way) has moved out beginning of the year. They are now located in a much larger showroom somewhere else, generating a much larger income. So, for a few months it was rather quiet on the ground floor.

They kind of tried to compensate the sudden departure of the Vantages and DB9s with putting up large full-wall posters of Aston Martin’s newest little baby – literally a little baby: The Cygnet. That one is in fact nothing but a weeny Toyota IQ under the fancy hood and the only reason to build it is the new European average fleet CO2 emission law for a car maker. But it’s not decided yet whether it will ever hit the roads. The only thing that’s decidedly clear is that its poster cannot replace the lost proximity of its breathtaking brothers.

However, the long time of  wait-and-see is over. Something’s happening behind the covers. They finally found a worthy replacement. Apparently it wasn’t easy. What could possibly follow in the rubber footsteps of a racing Brit?

The answer, mind you, directly shoots up the nose. The smoking black round’s odor is replaced by a steaming black round’s temptation: It actually looks like they are going to open up a Nespresso shop.

And it seems as if they’re stacking it up with all the same features that a European Nespresso boutique has. On top they’re even adding red doors with golden capsules, looking very much like Forbidden city. That’s quite a clever localization. So they actually switched my most favorite car brand with my most favorite coffee-at-home brand.

What a warm and comforting gesture from the green tea country towards the bean-loving foreigner!

I suppose in the future I’ll be client in my own house quite for a bit more than before.

But one thing stays to be seen: Following the Aston Martin – Lamborghini episode: when will we see a Starbucks delivery truck in front of the Swiss capsulator’s red-golden doors?

The Writings on the Wall

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Let’s remember – when I came here, I found there was no graffiti on the walls.  It took a while to actually come across this fact. Somehow everything just seemed to be so clean. Sure, I was only running around in the central business district area, but still – it was obvious that something was different. It’s actually surprising to see how used one gets to all that walled tagging and nagging back home. It’s on just about anything.
“Somebody has sprayed onto the Eiffel Tower!” And in other news today: The world is still turning.

It’s a nasty thing. And no posh new age term like “street art” can hide the fact that most of it is not only ugly, which would be arguable, but it’s more often than not plain illegal and damages somebody else’s property or life quality.

We have become acquainted to everyday life’s painted mumblings and so it’s almost a disturbing sight to stand in front of long walls without the usual drippings of wackiness.
And in Beijing the walls are as clean as the first day. Or so I thought.

It took me another while, just as long as the first one, to discover things aren’t as un-sprayed upon as I thought. Only, around here you’d have to look out for something different.

They are small, usually black or red, and they contain long numbers. They are on walls, on the floor and on side curbs. What people put there is not a helpless outburst of hello-world-I-am-here-please-notice-my-existence-please-please, it is rather a sense of making business. We’re in China after all.

Need a new ID card? A Hukou (registration) or some other official form of identification? Let a brother help you out. ‘Lost’ your driver’s license? Sob no further. Whatever it is you are having trouble with getting the official way-the spraying powers can provide you. Certainly though, you won’t be given a receipt or find a customer service department on the other end of that phone number. But you probably guessed that by now.

Interestingly, most of the phone numbers are painted over. There’s obviously a substantial number of people responsible for crossing them out. Funny enough though, they really only paint over the numbers. You’d think they should cover it all (why take away the number and keep people be interested in the luring offer of a shiny new driver’s license?) and sometimes they do that, but often they don’t bother. And sometimes the paint is so thin that the number below easily shines through. But hey – we covered it, so don’t tell us we didn’t do our job!

So in a strange poetic way the city is filled with thousands of proposals to change the person you are.

Once in a while you also see people riding a bike and dropping little papers onto the sidewalk. With the most innocent facial expression in the world they look the other way, but the trail of cards behind them unmistakably originate from their pockets. It’s another layer of shady offers, much more temporary in existence, but no less illegal.

Luckily all my papers and documents are in order at the moment, so I have no need for any such services. However, I’m still waiting for an offer for more leisure time and tranquility. That would certainly be a remarkably valuable offer.

Around wrong way

Friday, June 18th, 2010

What was Confiucius called with first name? Joe? Brad? Mortimer or Bruce? Or maybe his first name WAS “Confucius” and none of us knows about his rear? In this case, his mom might have yelled “Fuci, dinner is ready!” when it was time to stop playing around with DIY philosophy kit.

While it sounds like silly fun, it carries some heavy stuff behind the laughter lines: The difficulty of name distribution beyond the nick name axis. Somehow everyone has already picked up on it somewhere that there was something the Chinese did differently. Was it the direction in which they are writing? Are they doing it from right to left? No, hold on, that was the Japanese. Bullocks, they are doing it from top to bottom. Yepp, but THEN they’re going from right to left, just like the Arabs do. Only those aren’t Asians, at least not the majority. But this takes us too far off the subject.

The only thing that, according to our sense of order, the Chinese do from right to left is their naming. Hu Jintao, Wen Jiaobao and even Mister Li – they all carry their last name up front (certainly, we now need to ask the deeply philosophical question whether or not we can actually still call the last name just that. But let’s not twist our last two brain cells over this).

So, comrade chairman is not happily greeted with “Hey Hu” when he takes his bicycle around the pond for a spin. Rather he’ll be thrown a more polite “Yoohoo, Mister Hu”. By the way: “Hu” also means beard or mustache, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he keeps a stiff upper lip.

So, the Chinese are turning their names around and start in reversed order. And they’re actually doing this with lots of things. Mister Johnson introduces himself this way: Hello, I am George Johnson, I’m working as an engineer at Intel in Santa Clara, California.

His business partner, Mister Zhang on the other hand does it like this: Hello, I am Zhang Yu, I work in China, Beijing at Honhai as head of inspection.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that all Chinese are coming on from behind. It’s more likely the much different perception of the importance of the individual that makes them do this. Being a little nasty we could say that in the West everybody thinks of themselves as the greatest thing on the face of this planet. In the East people believe they are merely a tiny wheel somewhere in the back of the much larger gear of society. The basic difference of one’s own identity can easily be displayed by asking the simple question “what’s your name”. You will hear “George” from the left and “Zhang” from the right.

Unfortunately though, as interesting as this information might be, it’s just as useless. At least it makes for some additional confusion. The reason is that some Chinese and Westeners are enlightened enough to try and come towards the other. This creates a large mingle-mangle of all sorts of combinations on name cards and documents:

Firstname Lastname
Firstname LASTNAME
Lastname Firstname
LASTNAME Firstename
Lastname, Firstname
and even Firstname, Lastname

The problem is that the names of the opposing culture are more often than not anything but self-explanatory. Is it Wang Bing or Bing Wang? Eventually you will have to ask. And once more you feel like the stupid tourist from next door.

However, asking also doesn’t necessarily get you very far. The reason lies within the previously mentioned circumstance that a “last name” in this sense is non-existant in the Chinese culture.

“Is Wang your first or last name?” usually would result in a puzzled face on the opposite side. Sticking to the truth he would reply: “Wang is … my name”.
Oh,really? We knew that already, John Doe, but which one of your names is it? This question makes his reflective cortex burn up and all you can expect to come out from him will be a cloud of smoke. He won’t understand why you’re asking for only a part of his name.
Certainly he does know the difference between the family name and the given name. In China though, people will either call one another by nickname, a construct of a title and last name or the full name. The latter certainly by putting the last name – or what you want to call it – first.

And who knows – maybe this is the root of the old saying “the last will be the first”.

(Deutsch) Eine Stelle mehr

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

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(Deutsch) Niemand hat die Absicht…

Monday, November 9th, 2009

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(Deutsch) Ein Markt macht sich bereit

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

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(Deutsch) Platonisches zum Jubiläum

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

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(Deutsch) Nummer 4 lebt oder Der Haken an der Sache

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

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(Deutsch) T-Time

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

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(Deutsch) 80:68, ein Exkurs

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

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(Deutsch) Peking ist ein gefährliches Pflaster!

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

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(Deutsch) …isch

Monday, August 17th, 2009

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(Deutsch) Wer macht hier eigentlich die Timings?

Monday, August 17th, 2009

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(Deutsch) Das Fehlen von fünf Ls

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

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(Deutsch) Glücksbehausung

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

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