Things I could have blogged about recently:
- Chinese New Year preparations
- My walk to work
- Chinese meetings
- Gettin' paid! (Finally)
- Chinese Tea
I wrote little blogs about all of these things (yes, even yogurt) in my head, I even took pictures to support some of them. But the actually committing them to paper (or pixels as the case may be) didn't happen. So today you can have a post about Chinese New Year (and maybe some ranting about meetings) and look forward to my witty remarks on yogurt in the future :-P
Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday in the country. In fact, by some standards it is the biggest holiday event in the world. For instance one fifth of the worlds pipulation celebrates and about 200 million Chinese travel long distances for the holiday. For comparison, about less than 100 million people travel more than 50 miles during the Christmas season. The New Years Eve variety show broadcast is the most watched TV program in the world, though everyone will tell you it is not as good as it used to be.
The holiday unofficially starts on January first, which the Chinese people have embraced as another small festival on their extravaganza of parties. From this point on, fireworks are pretty much fair game, with most kicking in around last Friday. From our apartment we have a spectacular view of the nightly show.
A number if small festivals mark the weeks up to Spring Festival. Mostly they seem to involve eating special food and fireworks. Chiba produces about 90% of the worlds fireworks. Decorations go up about 10 days to a week before the New Years Eve. Everything is red and sparkly and the western Christmas music which has been playing since December 20th has been replaced by more traditional Chinese tunes. Chinese New Year has about a million different associations for decorations. Fish (this word sounds like prosperity), red, animated and stuffed chickens (it is the year of the rooster) and lots of Chinese characters are the most apparent.
People are all heading home to family now. The elevator is much less full headed to work, and the subway is crowded with people's suitcases and packages of goodies for family. My employers have sent me home with boxes of milk and apples. And they stocked the break room with tons of candy.
I was a little surprised to find myself getting caught up in the holiday spirit. I mean, it feels like Christmas. People are happy and buying gifts, things are pretty, and people are celebrating hope and new life in the midst of winter.
My school had a very important (9 hr) meeting with the CEO of our company on Sunday. I got to attend because they all wanted to meet the new teacher and I have a fancy college degree. After 4 hours of sharing reports (almost exclusively in untranslated Chinese), we went downstairs for the party that was to follow.
After waiting for 2 hours, our fearless leader was still nowhere to be found. Rumblings of mutiny and of hungry bellies finally convinced the hosts to let us eat. After dinner, I was pulled in to another meeting just for me. I finally got home at 10:20. The thing that gets me is, this seems to be standard meeting protocol on China. Everyone sits around a table, drinking tea and taking turns sharing slideshows. The only opinion that matters belongs to the most senior person in the room. This person says basically the same thing over and over again with varying degrees of emphasis. I don't know if this is corporate America, but it is not me.
Now the holiday will begin in earnest. I have 9 days off to hang out and see what is still open. I'll keep you updated on the rousing parties. Who knows what will happen, but I can tell you, everyone there will be wearing red underwear.