Just for laughs: Gags in China

Sometimes I am stuck inside of a huge, grey, dismal world, but then, all I have to do is step out of my apartment and discover the wonders around me. I am lucky enough to be in the right place for observing a multitude of things that can make one giggle out of the blue and bring a long-lasting smile on one’s face. Here are the things that turned my mood around in the past in China:

  • A middle-aged man carrying a Winnie the Pooh textile design suitcase in the metro.

 

  • A conversation with a 5-year-old during English class that went like this:
  • -Do you have cat?
  • -Yes, I do.
  • -What’s its name?
  • -Cat.

 

  • Women matching summer shoes with cotton socks.

 

  • -Hey, let’s have a nap!
  • Where?
  • Does it matter?                                                                                                                              
  • Old men wearing socks that look like lace or a type of laced transparent women’s stockings.

 

  • People heading out for a walk, for shopping or for other daily tasks in their pajamas.

 

  • Welcome to the new world of the latest fashion trends embraced by the old generation.
  • Migrant workers carrying heavy loads in raffia or nylon sacks in subways, buses and trains.

 

  • Some people bring their own foldable camping stools to sit down on when it is too crowded in the subway or trains.

 

  • People eating sunflower seeds pretty much everywhere: from airplanes and trains to restaurants, while waiting in the queue to get a dinner table.

 

  • People buying and wearing t-shirts, blouses, jackets and bags with messed-up messages in English.                                                                                                                     
  • Small bubble tea shops that have more than 12 employees on the same shift and can barely accommodate all of them.

 

  • Chinese restaurants that don’t provide tissues at tables or together with your ordered food.

 

  • People cleaning their plates, soup bowls, cups and glasses with hot tea before proceeding to serve themselves from the common dishes.

 

  • When at the beach, try the popular facekini!
  • Old Chinese people saying hello to me and smiling out of nowhere.

 

  • Kids shouting to their moms or grandmas, whenever they see me ‘laowai’ (foreigner), as if I were some sort of exotic monkey.

 

  • People occupying two seats in the subway and not bothering to move when other commuters are standing.

 

  • Young boys and toddlers getting a ‘bowl style’ haircut as if it would be the most fashionable thing ever.                                                                                                                
  • Other popular haircuts for kids!

 

  • People stocking up on rice and oil in the supermarket as if preparing for the end of the world.

 

  • Some people carrying enough crap on their e-bikes or simply on their backs to furnish an entire apartment.                                                                                                      
  • Street cleaners still using the old style twig broom.

 

  • Cleaners in subways and in some small Chinese restaurants mopping the floor while people are still walking by, ending up with a wet, dirty, slippery mess.

 

  • Toddlers, show us your butts! Trousers or overalls for kids that have butt holes to make peeing and pooping faster and easier, anywhere, at any time!                                        dsc04737.jpg
  • No space is too public to stop you from doing urgent tasks , such as toenail clipping or having a haircut.
  • The new use for the extra baby stroller in the house: walking the dogs or carrying grocery bags.

Holdorf-dogshow-012

  • Dogs in China be like: Bitch, I am more fashionable than you with my new trendy hair color!                                                                                                                                        
  • Chilling out, talking or waiting in the most natural position of all: squatting.                         
  • Talking about road and baby safety!

gettyimages-487258554_wide-2dbe000629dc698aefa9a209a86ec4d655b5cec8-s800-c85

  • The kingdom of fake stuff!

The skill of procrastination


deckchair

This morning, I saw a job ad.

Like all the other job ads,

Like yesterday’s job notification,

Received by email.

Sinking in a bathtub of:

Skills, capabilities, abilities

And the sort

Hard and soft

– What can you do for us?

Personality, emotions

Creativity, uniqueness

Useless.

Praise yourself?

Advertise your skills?

Package your persona, neatly!

Desirable skills:

Teamwork, communication, organization

Leadership, problem-solving

Meeting deadlines, flexibility

Describing aliens

Peeping into neighbors’ houses.

Ups, I got carried away!

 

Don’t have them? Next!

Mass-production, conveyor-belt

Possible job seeker no. 249.

And while I adore the sound

Of abstract sounding donkey-dust skills

I, myself, am the queen of procrastination.

Here’s to my leadership skills of:

Peeling oranges, cutting potatoes

Collecting postcards, gazing at the stars

Spreading butter on toast, window shopping!

I had a dream last night:

Every newspaper’s headline was:

“The coolest job of the 21st century

Requires…..tadam!

The skill of procrastination!

Welcome to my kingdom!

 

The fantastic life of the absurd

 

 

Imagine an all-encompassing society

A ridiculous one, for that matter

So absurd, so out of this world

Even ludicrous stories would stop

And stare!

The most preposterous happenings

Would choke

And swallow nervously.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Fluffy, flying mini pigs

In airplanes, and cars, and subways

Ruling countries, being leaders.

Because it’s the year of the pig, after all!

Fair and smart pigs would commit

To a society of the animals

For the animals.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

You, offenders and criminals!

Obey the chain of command!

Walk on a leash,

Do house chores

Help the poor

Live a life of silence

Submit to your master!

You, helpless house pets!

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Art, colors and cubism

Are the new currency.

We trade in oil paintings

Sketches and charcoal pencils.

Cash, banks?

All gone!

We trade in beauty, and imagination!

We all get to share!

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Fat, slim, white, Black

Short, tall, fit, or not

It’s all the same.

No rules, no stereotypes

No ethnicities, no beauty standards.

A meal’s nutritional value

Got into a fight

With the good looks of models and actors.

They both lost.

They vanished.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Bookshops and libraries

Sprinkle and twinkle

In their new roles

As therapists and psychologists.

-For an anxiety and stress-free life

Please, step inside a book, or two

Become a character

Deconstruct your body, your mind

Run in the wild

Of stories and poems

Come back, anew!

 

 

 

 

Stories and histories

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. These antiques live down at Mu Lan Warehouse, a two hours away trip by metro and bus from the center of Shanghai. Spiced up by layers of dust and erosion, by dirt and hundreds of engraved fingerprints, they routinely inhabit an old, covert secondhand store in a space forgotten by the fast pace of the big city’s hustle and bustle. The spirit of these objects’ previous owners live on through them. The lives, stories and trajectories of their owners are deep inside the core of the antiques. At the same time, these broken down, malfunctioning and in a way ‘dead’ items tell a story of their own existence. They have a life of their own and possess an acting energy, a life force to call it so, that exercises an influence on owners. Of course, the owners had an agency of their own that guided the trajectories of the objects.

In a material culture world, these articles are more than lifeless things, they are actors that impose their will on people and spaces. What might their stories and histories be?

Their beauty and uniqueness lies in the dust that covers them, in their cracks, in the faded paint, in the fingerprints that touched them. Antiques have soul or a multiplicity of souls that can touch your inner self, your life, your space, your house. They come with a vibe that bounces back and forth between past, present and future. Antiques kick ass in comparison to new, mass-produced, hollow items.

I don’t want to make a case about how sustainable it would be if we were to adopt these antiques and give them a new home, instead of buying new articles all the time, whose production requires the use of too many resources!

But let’s imagine the stories of the antiques  in the pictures!

Female silhouette frame:

The deceased Mr. Weng Zhou purchased the object at a flea market during a business trip to Beijing on the 12th of September 1955. He hid it in a secret compartment of his brown leather suitcase and never revealed it to anyone. When he got back home to Guangzhou, in the middle of the night, he locked it up  in the drawer of his desk. He was fascinated by the female silhouette, attracted by its shapes and by its apparent nudity. He imagined its nudity, he played with it. Every midnight he would slip out of his matrimonial bed and go to his desk, take out the female silhouette, gaze at it for hours on end and get lost in imaginary scenes of passion and perversion. His wife was a shy lady that never wanted to experience anything new in bed and had a totally conservative notion of what their sex life should be. The female silhouette incited Mr. Zhou’s and his midnight fantasies made up for his wife’s lack of imagination. When Mr. Zhou died, his children inherited his possessions and decided to get rid of the ‘useless’ decorative objects. They frowned when they found the female silhoutte and threw it in a bin never to talk about it again. The female silhoutte was meant to burn with a pile of rubbish in an incinerator outside of Guangzhou. However, the antique collector, nicknamed Tintin (yes, like the Belgian comic book character) rescued it during one of his collection journeys and brought it back to his Shanghai store.

 

Broken typewriter:

My name’s Jack the Ripper. I killed a few, but I also gave birth to a few…books, satires, novels, poems, letters, newspaper articles, love notes, etc. My keys moved with the speed of light from morning ’til dawn, at very  odd moments. I slept very little, if at all. I never took a rest and I almost never had time to replace my ink. My life was long and painful, whereas my friends, the poor paper sheets, were regularly doomed, destined to die as soon as they were picked up by my master’s fingers. During my entire lifetime, I gave birth to 3 novels, 4 love letters, 12 break-up letters, 3 satires, 55 poems, one nonfiction book and a bunch of newspaper articles. Should I be content? I killed, ripped, cut the throat and abdomens of other 113 letters, 12 novels, 5 books, 89 poems, 27 love notes and 43 newspaper article. I am surely an innate murderer. Despite, my life was nothing but miserable. I fretted the writing pace of my master, he struck me down various times, he tossed me in the middle of the room, he threatened to burn me and terrorized me with abandonment. He poured whiskey on me, he smashed glasses of wine on my keys, he took out the letters he hated,  he punished me for his writer’s block and every second day he would pathetically apologize to me. He liked to call me “The industrial-strength machine” since I was highly resistant to his constant abuses. I felt more like ‘Jack the ripper’, guilty and full of shame. Of course I wasn’t psychotic, but one day I couldn’t take my master’s temper anymore and I broke down for good. He put me out angrily in the middle of the road, hoping that a car would run me over and smash me into little pieces, However, his will was not to be. It so happened that Tintin saw me when he was crossing Wuding Lu, picked me up and took me to his antique store with the taxi. I get peace, company and a lot of affection from visitors in the store. Look, I was even given  a voice by a visitor and now hundreds of people will get to see me and know my story. Boy, I am happy!

Can you imagine the stories of the other objects in the pictures?

Thoughts of wisdom

 

I love people’s diversity and their inner resources of wisdom. Hence, a few years ago I decided to collect the thoughts and ideas of my friends, of acquaintances and travellers I came into contact with. Unfortunately, I got caught up with other things and I stopped doing it. However, I promised myself I will collect fragments of wisdom again. Here’s what I got so far: 

 

” A poetic vision comes from observing a creative landscape, then act upon it. The key is to realize what the action will be, or will do to you and others. “  By Julien Pearly from France

 

” A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes!” Adam Barnett citing Gandhi from Edinburgh

 

“I wish I was                                                                                                                                  

Where I was                                                                                                                                          

When I was wishing                                                                                                                            

To be here. ”                                                                                                                                          

By Cristina Grigore from Pitesti

 

“Words I spill on paper,                                                                                                                        

Ideas trapped in blue ink.                                                                                                                    

My thoughts are fireflies in flight;                                                                                                      

They lose their light when                                                                                                                  

With clumsy hands                                                                                                                              

I catch them.”                                                                                                                                          

By Ana from Brazil

 

“If you give a warm enough rope to hang itself it’ll turn around and bite the hand that feeds it.”  By Ivan Rochford from Ireland 

 

“O ramurica pe o stea –                                                                                                                    

 uite, a incoltit luna!                                                                                                                              

Cine scutura mugurii                                                                                                                          

lucitori noaptea pe cer?                                                                                                                    

A intunecat un gnom noaptea!                                                                                                         

Si ce a facut gnomitza?”                

By Elena Daniela Smoke from Pitesti

 

“A smile and a pleasant turn of phrase.                                                                                          

Take pleasure in the mine of life. Happiness is a choice” Anonymous

 

“If we are attached to smaller joy, then it is impossible to attain bigger joy.” By Tashi from Tibet

 

“Words are not enough to describe reality” By Lawrence Pedregosa from the Philippines 

 

“No smart quotes from me, my mind, thoughts, ideas change with every encounter.”      By Ahmed Ismail from Egypt

 

“El medio es la actitud.” By Carlos Brown from Canary Islands 

 

“It’s safer to believe in religion than not to believe. If at the end of time it’s proven that there is no religion , I guess we have nothing to lose.” By Immanuel from Nigeria

 

 “Life short                                                                                                                                              

suffering tall                                                                                                                                          

 plenty of water                                                                                                                                      

 no fish                                                                                                                                                    

no fish at all.

“By Kokothett from Myanmar 

 

“In summer the trees are full                                                                                                              

In winter they are bare                                                                                                                      

No leaf falls in the wrong place.”                                                                                                    

By Stan from Ireland            

 

“It’s interesting to see how a combination of different perspectives can enrich or change someone’s outlook on life.” By Jeroen from Leuven

 

“Knowledge opens several doors, but you close the one you want to open. That will make the difference in your life. Which one is the right door? Nobody knows. Just make sure the way to happiness doesn’t become harder.” By David from Czeck Republic 

 

“Confused? At loss at what to do? Don’t worry, you’re only human. Happiness is a state of mind.” By Florian Piron from Belgium

 

“All the small things matter!” By Julio Rodriguez from Ecuador 

 

“Travel to unknown places will be nourishment for your soul. It’s about learning to leave friends behind , but gain so many new friends on the way.” By Lukas from Lausanne

 

“Every action should bring you more freedom!” By Sebastien from Lausanne

 

that_s_all_folks__by_surrimugge-d6rfav1

For now!

 

 

 

 

At the Movies

 

Chamomile is my cup of tea

Old notes, the purple lilies of the field

The dusty, rigid, oak tree chairs

The spirit of the past, dim lights

And oldies music set the scene.

The sounds of life, a child’s energy

Blonde heads and quiet dreams

All captured in the room

In the entirety of its sea

Across the stage of hopes and screens

There is a writer

Creation and impression,

Spontaneous intention.

Last winter’s cold day, the coming of spring

There is a stranger caught in my string.

Timid glances and loud laughs

Our nervous moves on Milli Vanilli are delirious

Chamomile is my cup of tea!

His is syrup from the pine tree.

Have you ever been at the movies?