Saturday, March 15, 2008

Forbidden Commercialism?

I'm in Starbucks at the moment, which is always slightly surreal to leave. I took the bus in to work this morning, which was actually kind of exciting (mostly that I got on the right bus and it took me where I wanted to go!)

So, the same night as the French juggler and Spring Cakes, I had the opportunity to look at some old pictures of Kemin's (my friend who is directing OLIVER) grandmother. She and her husband met at school, he a conductor and she a violinist. The husband went to Russia to study at the Tchaikovsky Academy and is now, sadly, deceased. but she did some Peking Opera (the pictures were amazing) and both she and her husband had been put in prison during the Cultural Revolution because of their music. It was pretty profound, looking at their young, hopeful faces, holding on to their violin and cello as though the future would be so bright. How could they know what they would have to go through? Very humbling.

So, I was already in a thoughtful mood when I went to the Forbidden City yesterday, even after passing a 5 story McDonalds. But back to the Palace... It was so crazy to think of who had walked over the ancient stones on the bridge to the, then impenetrable fortress. Imagine my shock then that is was not only overcome with tourists (I was prepared for that), but all the grotesque trappings of a tourist "destination". Cheap souvenirs, cameras, baseball caps...I mean really, Baseball caps???? And every 5 seconds someone was coming up trying to get us to go on a rickshaw ride in some Hutong. Sigh. where was the reverence? But I guess I understand it too, it's economy. sigh. It was impressive though, and a little eerie to be in Tiananmen Square. There were guards everywhere, shouting for people to, "move along"...of course they were shouting in Chinese :) So, we got back on the subway, and holy cow, the crush of people was worthy of Tokyo. there were "handlers" outside the subway doors to push people in before the doors closed. But finally I made it back to my bus back home to snuggle on the couch and read my new book (man, i love the bookworm- it's also a lending library!). Well, tomorrow is my singing gig and then Sunday is the Dodgers vs. Padres game. life is back to...um, normal...

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