Friday, July 29, 2005

Finally in the Capital

Stayed up watching a syndicated episode of Monk and Vesuvius: Deadly Fury. The true way into a woman's heart isn't through food, drink or expensive jewellery, but volcanoes ... deadly ones.

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Flubber boy (last mentioned here) sent me off at the Guangzhou airport this morning before I arrived in Beijing. I was given a -- get this -- Miss Protocole Piaget wristwatch as a parting gift. Although it looks like something for a ladies' charity luncheon or a serious night of tycoon-hunting, I've already grown practically attached to it. (I can hardly be accused of sentimentality.)

In Macao, some 16-year-old Londoner wanted to -- against all socio-relational norms -- conquer me, his aunt's daughter. The bad news: I regret investing any time entertaining, however platonically, this playboy rugrat. The good news: I played this fool like a violin. (Just try to waste my time again, fuckers.) I think I'm ready to bring my newfound powers to Montreal ...

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There seems to be a strange technicality with Internetism in mainland China. As I've mentioned before, Blogger is censored here: not the site itself, but the personal webpage on which posts are published. Thus, I can write entries, but unable to see the finished product. Bummer, I know. I mean, Atom & His Totally Tumbleweed-tastic tonic sound seems so, like, great ... *cough* (Sorry Stevie, but I think I'll stick to Electric Six for my synthesizer fix. Making love to my iPod isn't just a job; it's a duty).

In recent news, I visited a sweatshop. Okay, melodramatic, but it was a factory that made designer Italian bust-boosters and children were seen on the premises (if only because their parents do not have the resources to keep them anywhere else). The owner is one of my mom's oldest friends, which I'll call Polkadotted Pucci. To think, a multi-millionairess who never passed her middle school entrance exam. You know those "Designed in Italy. Made in China" labels? She makes the rounds. An ersatz Europhile, she had set aside four bags of panties and bras for me to choose from. I picked at the piles as she smiled encouragingly:

"Go on, go on. Take as much as you want. These won't be sold in Europe until October."

Eyeing the tantalizing loot, I thought, Hell, it might not be Agent Provocateur, but it wasn't the Mary-Kate&Ashley line either. I carefully examined each garment and thinking it adequate, I stuffed them into a plastic bag. Only later did I discover that while each bra is made for about 0.20RMB, it's sold for more than 70-80euros after the middle man interferes (this price inflation is due to, but not limited to, slick ad campaigns, model salaries, and unadulterated greed). My mom suggested I take a tour of the place to see how people in the "real world" lived. My initial arrogance gave way to genuine surprise: a thousand people sat in front of sewing machines under the unflattering glare of fluorenscent lights. It's one thing condemning non-Western working conditions, it's altogether a different experience being there as an unknowing participant -- in any form. Polkadotted Pucci apparently provides free basic health care, food and housing for her minion of ne'er-do-wells, but she assures me this isn't common. Doing business with Europeans has taught her that financial desperation and aggressive competition causes more setbacks in the long-run. "Some [companies] will agree to the demands of buyers for a profit of as little as 20 cents [an item.] The Chinese are always, always, always willing to work for less," she said, exasperated.

Polkadotted Pucci, herself, does not consider anything less than two dollars. Of course, nothing is as it may seem. Who knows what she has hiding in her files -- monthly wages are 30-40RMB. Watching a field of uneducated citizens doing what they've been destined to do by their merciless government, I was more than embarrassed holding a bag full of underwear still hot from the needle because I know I have the ability to leave this reality at will. It was like seeing how cows were processed as they made their way through Bovine College. It's quite a leap between watching The Corporation with your stoner friends and really feeling the angst and damnation of public pawns; this I can't stress enough.

In the end, I did accept my generous gift, but since then, I haven't practiced lazy thinking (like assuming brand names equate to quality) as much as I have done in the past, before this surreal shock.

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