Friday, 18 July 2008

It's raining, it's pouring...

... the Old man is... yeah well it's really raining here again this morning. This is serious heavy rain (and I come from Vancouver, so I know whereof I speak). And the thunder and lightning is setting off car alarms again. It's really cool to live somewhere where storms are accompanied by huge rolling thunder crashes and the tremendous, powerful cracks of lightning bolts.

With the exception of the tropics, I have never been anywhere where it rains so much during the Summer. For a month or more now, we have been saying we should follow everybody else and buy umbrellas to hide away in a pocket or a bag. But it always feels like we're about to leave and the rain has to stop... sometime. It doesn't seem like it's going to.

On the bright side, it does seem to help keep the ground and the air clean. I wonder how much of it is caused by meteorologists seeding the clouds (they also apparently have technology in place to reduce the chance of rain for the opening ceremonies if necessary). The western media is acting like they've only just been made aware of the air quality problem in Beijing and its potential impact on the Olympic games. All construction in the city is slated to stop this Sunday so we'll see if that makes any difference. Sadly, as a result, streams of migrant workers are packing their few possessions and returning to their home provinces for the duration of the games. I say "as a result" but of course it is equally as a result of the desire to maintain "security" and a "clean" city for the games.

On a related note, I heard a news story on the World at Six on CBC saying that spectators would be searched for banners, flags, and noisemakers and that they would be confiscated. "No flags?", thought I, "That's kind of lame." After allowing this misconception to carry on for the length of the story, they added the extra detail that only flags smaller than 1m by 2m would be allowed. Who the heck needs a flag bigger than that?! Imagine you are sitting behind the guy with a flag bigger than that! Sheesh... Apparently umbrellas will be allowed, which seems like it may be a good thing.

It feels like the anticipation in the city has, if anything, declined over the past few weeks. I really felt like it has been growing since I arrived (maybe it was just my anticipation) but, as the last details get sorted out, I just don't feel any excitement. Oh, sure, there are a few more banners, the signs for the Olympic traffic lanes are going up, and workers are setting up venues around the city with big televisions for people to watch the events. People even lined up for hours at the bank to receive newly-printed 10 RMB notes with the Olympic stadium on them. But I just don't sense the excitement. I'm guessing it will turn on by decree.

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