Friday, October 02, 2009

National Day Parade

I'm not one for drinking games, but if I were, and the phrase for drinking yesterday was, "Socialism with Chinese characteristics", all the people at our house would have been tanked. We got our cable installed just so that we could watch the National Day Parade on TV. I had forgotten the awesomeness which is Chinese television. The commercials alone are fascinating - usually about 5 seconds long, often repeated within 20 seconds of their previous showing, and generally involving embarrassing situations for those in the commercial.

But yesterday wasn't about commercials - it was all about the Chinese, and their ability to coordinate events with large numbers of people at a level of precision that is awe-inspiring. The parade kicked off with President Hu sticking out of the top of a black car, looking not unlike a Ken doll when similarly stuck in the Barbie convertible, being driven along a long line of troops and military equipment. This is called the "review of the troops", a.k.a. "check out our massive military strength." Periodically he would call out "tong zher men xin ku la!" (Comrades you are so hard working!) and they would respond, "Wei renmen fu wu!" (for the people!). Heart warming. While he was reviewing, and while the troops subsequently marched past the main square with perfectly coordinated moves, there were 80,000 children in the square holding up colored signs that were changed into 41 different pictures. The pictures included different phrases in characters, and the Chinese flag. Don't worry, these poor children had stands on which to put their signs.

After the troops marched past, there was a line of floats - one for every official minority group in the country. Many were surrounded by people making patterns with things they were carrying - flags, sashes, flowers, large colorful rings, and my personal favorite - giant colored puff balls like something from a Dr. Suess book. And all of it accompanied by a 2,000 piece band.

The sheer amount of organization required to pull off an event like this is staggering. Everyone was in step (how do you drive giant rocket bearing tanks down a street exactly in a line?), everyone was happy, the skies were blue. That in itself was a feat - the previous day visibility was about 50 yards. These people are experts at cloud seeding.

And all throughout, as we listened to the English commentary, we were reminded that this is a country which is "socialist, with Chinese characteristics." Apparently that includes pulling off major parades for 60th anniversaries. Well done, China, well done.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We're considering a 3 year move to Singapore with our three boys (5,9,and 12--he's an Ethan too) and I came across your blog looking for info on the web. Thanks for all the info you have here about what everyday life is like in Asia.