Friday, January 23, 2009


Some Chinese are beginning their new year optimistically. Chen revisits Shanghai after some years in the U.S.


Chen: By Monday all the problems of the Year of the RAT will be gone and we can start the Year of the BULL firmly excited.

 Tzu: Firmly excited?

 Chen: Things are going well and I am looking up. You know, at Pudong Airport, the immigration desk has four buttons; and when your passport is stamped you are asked to press one of the following: (1) Greatly satisfied with immigration service, (2) Satisfied, (3) So-so, and (4) Disappointed.

 Tzu: You pressed (1), because you like to encourage employees, right?

 Chen: I pressed (1), because it was very nice service, polite, smiling, no waiting.

 Tzu: Better than America, eh?

 Chen: Then I took the Maglev train into town. I asked how long it would take and the ticket seller said 80 minutes and I thought well that's not much faster than the bus, but better try this new train.

 Tzu: It’s not 80 minutes, it’s 8 minutes.

 Chen: I know, I guessed when I saw the speed: 301 kilometers per hour. Great train. 8 minutes from airport to downtown Metro link. Wow. China’s going places.



Chinese restaurants often have round tables for at least a dozen people. The chatter resembles firecrackers, the food is often red, and the tone is often cheerful. It’s as if negativity must be brushed under the rug. Could Chinese cheer and confidence augment Obama’s “We can do it” in the new year?


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