I may have had two Saturday's but I lost most of Sunday, and a beautiful one it is. I just sat outside and listened to the breeze. Ah!!
I went to bed right on schedule for this time zone and then woke up wide-awake at 2:30, so I continued reading One Man's Bible, which does an excellent job of explaining the historical and psychological implications of Communist China.
I went back to sleep about 6:30 and slept until 1, then was up a bit and napped some more. Now I am awake, but, of course, the day is winding down.
I think the constant noise level of the noise outside and air conditioner inside and the sheer numbers of constantly moving people was more exhausting than I realized. I have never had a jet-lag slump like this and yet I feel very well in this moment. Actually, I haven't had the odd dizzy buzz, just an ability to deeply sleep. Plus, Tiger and Bella are thrilled to sleep right along with me, so this house is a sleepy house today.
Oddly, I noticed my dreams had Chinese sub-titles. I watched no television while I was there, or no movies on the plane, but I could see them flashing on the little private screens around me, and somehow I took into my psyche Chinese characters interpreting my dreams. In Hong Kong, most of the signs are in English and Chinese. I am still seeing Chinese letters and calligraphy in my dreams.
Thomas Friedman was in China for much of the same time we were, and his columns are about his experience. Here is an excerpt from his column today.
“Hey, is it a little warm here in your office, or is it just me?” I found myself repeatedly asking in Beijing. No, it wasn’t just me. In June, China’s State Council dictated that all government agencies, associations, companies and private owners in public buildings had to set air-conditioning temperatures no lower than 26 degrees Celsius, or 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Air-conditioning consumes one-third of the energy demand here in summer.
The government just ordered it from the top down. Sounds effective. But then you pick up the Shanghai Daily and read: “More than half of the city’s public buildings have failed to obey power-saving rules setting air-conditioning at 26 degrees Celsius, according to local energy authorities.” Hmmm — seems to be a little problem with follow-up.
In 2005, China’s leaders mandated a 20 percent improvement in energy productivity and a 10 percent improvement in air quality by 2010. You can see why — or maybe you can’t.
I was at the World Bank office in Beijing, meeting with a green expert, and outside his big bay window all I could see through the brownish-gray haze was the gigantic steel skeleton of the new CCTV skyscraper — spectacular six-million-square-foot headquarters reaching to the heavens — one of 300 new office blocks slated for Beijing’s new Central Business District.
Friedman continues on. It is hard to imagine that brownish-gray haze until you experience it for days, and it is evident how unhealthy it is for lungs and spirit. China is making changes, and yet, it is true the businesses have not gotten the message. I had read to bring a wrap for restaurants and I was glad I did. They are freezing, for no reason that I understand. When one walks on the streets, you go from heat to cold, as the stores leave their doors open to entice you into the air-conditioning. It is true they need to find a balance there. I can't believe it is healthy to move in and out of heat and cold the way one does in Hong Kong.
My understanding of Chinese food is balance, food neither too hot or too cold. Though they may not have yet passed on the government regulations on energy use to the shop-owners and consumers, I think they will soon. The people are adaptable and cooperative and seem to partake in following rules better than we who are trained to flaunt and interpret for ourselves. I am always amazed at the American who sits in the fast lane on the freeway blocking traffic, while the signs clearly state that slower traffic should stay to the right. I don't think you would see that there, and reading about China as it has been under Chairman Mao, I certainly wouldn't want that level of intrusiveness of interference in my life, but there is a balance, and they are reaching for it. I think they are considering the whole as they take themselves from one century to the next. They are learning from us. Perhaps we can learn from them.
I did see recycling containers, though not as many as here, but traveling is a constant lesson in how much plastic one person can use. I am responsible for an appalling use of plastic on this trip, and not the credit card kind, though perhaps that too.
This country has worked on our pollution problems and will continue to do so. China, also, is aware, and they are building rapidly and the haze in their air is an incentive to do something now. The lungs and eyes request clean air.
So, it is time to get clothes washed, and plants cared for and return, rejuvenated. We had pollution in this country and we have worked to correct it and have made huge strides with more to go. The Chinese are learning to do the same.
In One Man's Bible, he .learns to appreciate the country life. We all need clean water, clean air, and serenity at times. I am grateful my ears have a chance to rest and renew.
Happy Sunday to YOU!