May 2, down Queensway at Admiralty, Hong Kong. A once in a lifetime experience, folks.
I was nowhere near planning to go. Near the end of work my colleague decided, out of the blue, that I had to go with her to see it. Had no idea where the torch already was by the end of work, but after some frantic decision-making and a lot of lucky help from a student, we figured the best place was to wait for it at Admiralty. Ran, got into the MTR, crossed the sea, got a great spot at Queensway, waited, waited, waited, and after some false alarms, an empty belly, and a panicky bladder, finally saw what’s been printed in newspapers all over the world. The Olympics have come to China.
If you’ve lived in Beijing, toasted a million times with your friends all over the world to the 2008 Olympics, watched the Bird’s Nest stadium being built, seen how the city had thrown itself into this whole affair…you can easily bet where I stand in the Beijing vs Indignant Developed World in the Suburbs (IDWS) question. No contest, man. No contest.
I suppose the wonderfully enlightened IDWS finds immense civilization in gatecrashing and wants to educate the rest of us in its arts. If it’s not Tibet or Khartoum (whaaat? It’s not about Tibet after all?! Maaan, I’m confused!), they’d find another reason to make sure it’s their faces on the cameras. (Perhaps the monstrous pollution in China, since the IDWS is finally rich enough to let go of fossil fuels themselves and to build a nice little soapbox upon which to preach to the rest of us.) Dear Western world, you’ve really outdone yourself this time. As if it weren’t enough that barely a century ago you were forcing Asia to capitalism with your opium, bayonets, and cannons, and now you accuse us of learning so well from you. We can never please you, can we? Ah, one of your poets says it best: “The villainy you teach me I will execute; and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.”
(I’d advise Ms. Farrow to take the first flight out of Hong Kong before she gets run over by a minibus.)
Really, a situation in which a country is paid so much scrutiny, attention, and overwhelming criticism from the rest of the world can only mean one thing: that country is on its way to a boatload of power. Otherwise no one would care an atom for it. It’s funny, the only thing the torch-snatching has achieved so far is build up a felt, potent patriotism within the Chinese that was previously only force-fed by government. What this whole kerfuffle has done is justify those tacky propaganda programs I watched in Beijing. A backfire for a few certain somebodies? I think so.