Chongqing Municipality–a spinoff of Sichuan Province, now its own special administrative zone–is a hilly metropolitan area of 32 million people, most of them housed in skyscrapers. Landing in the plane, it looked like an endless sea of upended cigarette boxes. The cigarette metaphor proved apt since my second lecture was disastrous because I was visibly choking to death. Death was averted, but I lost my voice (and my train of thought) due to the pollution. The air is essentially a solid block. That said, they’re working on it–there are trees planted on the tops of most buildings, for example. My favorite part of Chongqing was the wedding that I attended as an uninvited guest. It was happening at a restaurant where we had lunch, and when I expressed an interest, my guide insisted that we go. The bride was wheeled down the aisle on a white fur crescent moon, which I suspect is not a traditional feature of Chinese weddings. But the couple did kneel at the altar in front of their parents, thanking them quite traditionally and ceremonially for raising them. This is nice–I hope my kids do that at their weddings, but I won’t hold my breath.
P.S. Dogged readers of this blog may wonder why I am the only one posting. The reason is that everyone else has turned against the blog, and the more I bug them about it the more resistant they are to it. I guess I can make them apologize for their stubborn-ness when they kneel in front of me at their weddings.