Thursday, December 26, 2013

Those Years in the Urban Village (Song by Xuan Band about Chengzhongcun "villages amidst the city")

《城中村的那些年》 玄乐队
“Those Years in the Urban Village” by Xuan Band

词:刘刚(玄乐队) Words by Liu Gang (Xuan Band)
曲:任浪(玄乐队)  Music by Ren Lang (Xuan Band)

Lyrics can be found here or here (offensive adverts)
Song can be heard on Youku here

Those years in the urban village
The stall where I ate
The street side where I loafed
Those years in the urban village
The baby girl I fell for
And even the single room I slept in
Those years in the urban village
The ‘narrow brand’ I smoked
Discs I bought
Those years in the urban village
The roadside I slept on
The stall I laid out
灿烂的阳光 晒上电线杆
Radiant sunlight tanning me from the lamppost
饭馆的炉子 生火又冒烟
Stove in the restaurant giving heat but also smoke
街上的吆喝 热闹声不断
Sounds from the street are calls of excitement with no end
理发店的音响 嗨曲震破天
Music from the beauty salon ‘hey’ songs break through the air
肉夹馍的伙计 剁肉剁滴欢
The meat sandwich clerk chops slices with a smile
卖蒸馍的蒸笼 遮了半边天
The bamboo steamers full with buns take up half the sky
推车子的老汉 只卖麻辣串
The men pushing carts only sell spicy kabobs
三鲜麻辣两个锅 卖到两三点
Three baskets of mala spice in two pots is sold until 2 or 3 in the morning
小商店的老板 最爱谝闲传
The boss of the little shop loves to tell tall tales
饺子馆的香味 让人口水咽
The delicious odor of the dumpling restaurant makes mouths water
彩票店的顾客 个个神机算
Customers of the lottery shop calculate fortune of everything
算来算去很专业 闹个五百万
The precision of their calculations are enough for five million
麻将馆里人不断 麻将搓滴欢
There are always people in the Mahjong restaurant playing to their hearts’ content
房东么事日闲干 闲谝 扯个淡
The landlord does his work at a leisurely pace, telling tales and making stuff up
收完房费总会说 电费可包欠
After collecting the rent he will always say, electricity can be included in fee
想想挣地这点钱 我失眠了好几晚
Thinking about this little money I earn makes me sleepless for several nights
掐指头一算 毕业好几年
Counting on my fingers, I have already graduated for years
城中村的生活 也慢慢习惯
Life in the urban village, I have slowly become accustomed
一个人的单间 活滴赛神仙
Living in a one-person single room like an immortal
踏踏实实认认真真 啥都自己干
Very steady and very conscientious, doing everything myself
住的房子虽不大 起码有聚点
While the room I live in is quite small, at least it has a assembly point
桌上一台旧电脑 唯一的家产
An old PC resting on the table is my only asset
房顶有个老吊扇 转的真是慢
The turns of an old ceiling fan define slow
扇滴很有节奏感 扇不走孤单
It fans with a true rhythm of a melody, but cannot fan away loneliness
楼下有个两元店 经营总不善
There is a two yuan store downstairs but its business is always poor
喇叭天天喊的惨 没人进去转
Everyday a horn repeats its tragic call but no one goes in to browse
旁边就是服装店 款式赛开元
Beside it a clothing shop, its styles rivalling the Kaiyuan era
隔壁是个手机店 爱疯八百圆
Neighboring it is a mobile phone shop, iFeng for 800 coins
最爱吃的油泼面 八块一大碗
My favorite food of oil-splashed noodles costs 8 bucks for a large bowl
四川人的米线店 妹子真好看
At the Sichuan rice noodle store, there is a girl working who is quite good-looking
村子口的旧书摊 么事就去翻
The used-book counter at the center of the village is where I go when I have time to browse
快餐店的盖浇饭 灯光也温暖
Along with a rice bowl from the fast food restaurant is also their nice lighting
Those years in the urban village
The stalls at which I ate
The roadsides I loafed
Those years in the urban village
The baby girls that I chased
And even the single room I slept
Those years in the urban village
The ‘narrow brand’ that I smoked
The discs that I bought
Those years in the urban village
The roadsides where I slept
The stalls I set out
理发店的小伙子 门口抽着烟
The chap at the beauty parlor is smoking at the entrance
瞅着来往的姑娘 直直的看
Watching the ladies walk back and forth intently
五金店的小姑娘 电视不见关
The young lady at the hardware store never turns off the television
一天到晚看着那 白蛇传
From morning to night watching Legend of the White Snake on it
一眼望去的街道 都是小摊摊
Turning one’s eye to the street, small stalls and blankets with goods are everywhere
凉皮肉夹馍和冰峰 三秦好套餐
Cold noodles, meat sandwiches and Ice Peak drinks, the three making a good meal
鸳鸯锅火锅店 三毛钱一串
Mandarin duck pot and hot pot restaurants have one kebob for 30 cents
扯面拉条臊子面 面汤不要钱

Shaanxi noodles, pulled noodles and Qishan noodles – none of them charge for the broth 

Friday, December 20, 2013

GM-modified Corn, Protectionism and Normal China

Today, close to 600 thousand tons of corn from the US was denied entry to China on the basis that it was genetically-modified with MIR 162, a version of corn that does not have a “security certificate” in China. Last month, 60 thousand tons of the same GM corn was denied entry; as early as 2010, Swiss-based Syngenta had been trying to bring MIR 162 corn to China.
Why is China importing corn, or any other agricultural product for that matter? China has been a nation of farmers since before modernity; that it would need to import agricultural products—namely, rice, corn (and feed), cotton, soybeans—is surely news. The USDA reports, since 2008, China has used “price supports” to subsidize farmers, but its massive food inflation has benefitted US, rather than PRC, farmers, since the discrepancy between China domestic and global prices for agricultural products means farmers have been arbitraging all the way to the bank. US farmers may be trying to get MIR 162 corn past PRC customs, but PRC farmers are happy to have it to reduce cost and win market share.

Reproduced from without permission. 
China’s citizens have been subject to an onslaught of food safety scandals: 2008 brought infant milk powder; 2010 re-used cooking oil (地沟油); more recently clenbuterol steroid-lean pork. The idea that government can have any effect on standards and safety of food is in doubt in China.
For the global/Western community, the only comfort in the wake of the GSK (and other big pharma) bribery allegations in China is the idea that China imposes its rule of law haphazardly or only when it benefits China—or the vaguely “encompassing” (not private) interest of China-first enterprises.
For Chinese citizens, it can only be disconcerting that the majority of papayas are GM, and have been for over a decade, despite this only being revealed earlier this month. So GM food is widely spread in China, from insect-resistant rice to cooking oil, from cotton to papaya, yet China’s customs and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) have rejected the import of MIR 162 corn from the US.

GM Food. By Urban Express. Used without permission.
In Chinese, “一朝被蛇咬,十年怕井绳” (if you are bitten once by a snake, you fear ropes for ten years). Infant milk powder, re-used cooking oil and clenbuterol scare the central government and MoA. Strict enforcement of “standards” and “bribery” scares Western corporations. Perhaps this is much ado about nothing?

A Chinese citizen noted to this author: US corporations are buying organic soybeans from Shandong while they sell GM soybeans back to China—how can this not be a Snowden-ian plot? As US agricultural exports to China rise to 7 million tons, accountability for food standards, disclosure to citizens and bureaucratism in “safety certificates” are in flux in thousands of tons of corn.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zhu Kezhen's Diary

'Shanghai Mayor Chen Yi spoke for one hour, explaining the importance of theory to the Communist revolution. He said that the Communists were humble and willing to listen to advice, that criticism should be penetrating, and that the essence of democracy was both that the minority followed the decision by the majority and that the majority should respect the opinions of the minority.

What he said was very reasonable.

Next Feng Ding from the Party Department of Propaganda spoke of Marxism and Leninism as the highest principles of all the theories in the world. He said that subjective opinions of the proletariat were more objective than the objective opinions of the bourgeois.

What he said was really hard to understand.'

Zhu Kezhen
9 June 1949

(Edited slightly from an article by Zuoyue Wang, translated by him, on Saving China through Science)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 30

Episode begins with Haiping warning Haizao about having the baby she is pregnant with from Secretary Song. Haizao is optimistic that Song will help her and her child. Haiping says that only pessimists survive, and that she can only rely on herself.

Later in bed, Haiping and Su Chun are discussing Haizao. Haiping blames the city. "This broken city! This broken city! (这破城市!)" she exclaims, it is such that she cannot even take care of her own sister. Su Chun exhorts her not to blame the city, since every life goal and every place one lives is chosen by one's self. There are many people like Haizao, who care only about their short-term gains.

Haiping and Su Chun discuss the fact that they will get the keys to their apartment the next day. Haiping wants to have the apartment appraised both for size and quality. Su Chun says they have bought an apartment off the plan (in advance, 期房) so it is just like making a wager. They will only know about the quality after they live there for a year or two. And their usage rights are only for 70 years, not 80, and by that time the apartment will be worn out.

Haiping and Su Chun run into Grandma Li's son, daughter-in-law and grandson. It turns out that the apartment given to them because of the death of Grandma Li is two floors under Haiping and Su Chun's apartment. They will be neighbors again. Haiping complains that they cannot get away from life of the shikumen.

Secretary Song buys much expensive furniture, imported Italian furniture, for Haizao and her stomach is noticeably large.

The next scene is of Haiping and Su Chun at a cheap market for finishing supplies. They buy some discarded tiles, a kitchen, and building supplies. Haiping is seen lugging heavy supplies up the six flights to their apartment. They put in the floor, a rug, and a table and are putting finishing touches on things.

A man comes to the door of Haiping and Su Chun's new apartment. He says that the apartment they live in, along with many others in the xiaoqu, is 2.7 meters less area than in the contract, meaning they paid 20,000 yuan extra (or didn't get what they paid for). They are asking for all the residents to sign a petition in order for them to weiquan "uphold their rights". The man also has a petition to change the property management since it is an "open system", meaning that the garbage collectors are not employed, and only come when they want. Haiping signs both petitions.

Secretary Song's wife is waiting when he arrived home late. She is angry and he says they can divorce. She cries. Song says he knows that Secretary Sun is investigating him, and he will either become a dragon (master) or will spent the rest of his life in jail. His wife is concerned.

Haiping says: "Gold houses and silver houses are nothing compared to one's own dog-house (金窝银窝都不如自己的狗窝). Today is the most at ease I have ever been in my life."

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 29

The scene from end of last episode repeats, with the roof the house falling on Grandma Li and the construction workers and cronies fleeing.

Grandma Li's son and daughter-in-law frantically pull bricks off the pile, also unearthing construction hard hats. One of the hard hats has a water bottle inside with the worker’s name painted on it.

Secretary Song receives a call, and the person tells him to look at the newspaper. On the front page, the first story is about a demolition where a 77-year-old woman was killed by a collapsed building. Song is furious. He calls Boss Chen to his office. He curses and yells at Chen. He tells Chen to die. Song tells him to give one of Chen's two remaining apartments to the Li family, and solve all their economic needs. The other apartment should be given to the police, and if the man who organized the actual demolition is arrested, Chen should take care of his family. Chen says that he thinks there might be a problem, because the police "eat vegetarian" (吃素) [are immune to bribery?].

Song goes to Haizao's apartment very late. She awakens and comes to ask him what is the matter. He says nothing. She says she is pregnant. She wants to get an abortion. Song tells her to have the baby. They argue.

Song arranges for a nanny (保姆) to take care of Haizao. He also takes her shopping and buys the dinning room table that his wife had looked at, but was too grudging to buy.

Secretary Sun (Song's superior) arrives back from Beijing to hear the new news.

Secretary Song and Boss Chen are in Song's office. Chen says that he will decorate the apartment for Grandma Li's family, and everything will be okay. Song says: "a life for an apartment". Song tells him to decorate the apartment in a durable way, not a luxurious way. He also tells Chen to give them 20,000 yuan, and not 200,000 because otherwise they will think the money comes so easily that they can rely on Chen for the rest of their lives. He also tells Chen that he will be taking the apartment that Haizao is living in.

Secretary Sun upbraids the investigator. He wants proof, proof of an official's misbehavior, proof the loan from Bank President Xie, proof of the demolition and death of a person. "Let the proof speak." He says that their investigation must continue, despite resistance from people in city police. Beijing is also investigating.

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 28

Secretary Song's wife and daughter are upset because he is never home for meals, and sometimes doesn't come home at night. He comes home late again and his wife tells him to sleep in the den. He grabs her, pushes her down on the bed, and rapes her (apparently). The next day Song calls his wife to say he is not coming home that night.

Boss Chen and his cronies are thinking about a plan to frighten Grandma Li. Chen says putting a dead cat or some feces in her house, but his cronies say that is too low for him, a big CEO. Instead, the cronies say they will use the "thatched boat to catch arrows" [use someone else's offensive to gain the offensive, from Three Kingdoms one of four classics of Chinese literature, I think].

The investigator comes to see the head official, Secretary Sun. The investigator says: "We have learned of a new development. Bank President Xie has borrowed 300 million from the bank and given it to Chen Sifu (Boss Chen)’s company. We have also learned some things about Dajiang Property. Besides the shikumen project that is related to Song Siming (Secretary Song) [i.e. the demolition involving Grandma Li], they found out that all the funding for Chen's company to list in Hong Kong comes from the bank, a Hong Kong businessman, and Tianda Property (the real estate company owned by Song’s other friend)." Secretary Sun tells the investigator to increase their surveillance of activities and not let out any word of the investigation. The next day Sun will go to Beijing to tell his boss in person.

Song has Boss Chen buy a Ferrari and redo his image to look like a CEO.

Song tells Chen to hurry up and complete the demolition. Chen meets with his cronies. They tell him the "grass boat/catch arrows" plan is to first distract Grandma Li's son and daughter-in-law with a first demolition team, then knock a hole in the wall with a second team. Once it rains, none of them will be able to live anymore. Boss Chen says this is a good plan. Then he says: "You idiots! This is not 'using the thatched roof to borrow arrows', it is called 'doing one thing under the cover of another' (暗度陈仓). You never studied!"

4 construction workers go one way, and the rest go the other way. The first group start to knock on the walls, and Grandma Li's son and daughter-and-law come out protesting.

The workers and Boss Chen's cronies pull Grandma's Li son and daughter-in-law away from the building. There is an argument with much pushing and shoving. Meanwhile, two construction workers scale the house and start to cave in the roof. Grandma Li awakes and screams "Help!" but no one can hear.

Grandma Li gets out of bed and crawls for help. It is unclear if she is crawling to get out or crawling to get under the demolition (so that it will intentionally fall on her). The roof falls on top of Grandma Li. Her son rushed inside.

The workers say that even though they knocked in the side where Grandma Li was not staying, she intentionally crawled under the roof so it would fall on her. They run off.

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 27

The last scene from the previous episode repeats again. Secretary Song tells Boss Chen to pay off Grandma Li or solve the problem in order to be involved with the entrance of a Hong Kong businessman into Jiangzhou real estate. Boss Chen leaves.

Secretary Song calls Haizao and says they should eat together with Haiping and Su Chun in the apartment Haizao is living in. Song wants to be a part of the family. Song arrives and they start eating. Haiping and Su Chun are both awkward. Eventually, Su Chun confesses that he wants to quit his job and go into business for himself: opening an online bookstore for children's books. Song promises to introduce a classmate of his who is in the publishing business. Song leaves. Haiping is furious that Su Chun wants to quit and didn't tell her before.

Song tells one of his real estate friends that he needs to find a road out, and he will use Boss Chen's company as a shell for listing in Hong Kong. Without any [political] background, Boss Chen's company will not draw any attention. His friend asks him to explain but Song demurs, saying they will discuss it at dinner.

At dinner Song tells a story: "Once there was a place called America. There was an old man with three sons. The oldest and the second oldest were both working in the city. The youngest son and the man relied on each other to survive in the countryside. One day a man came and said, 'can I take your son into the city to work.' The old man said, 'No, absolutely not. Get out of here.' 'If I find a spouse for your son in the city, can I take him there?' The old man said still said, 'No, get out of here.' The man asked again, 'If the spouse I find for your daughter, your future daughter-in-law, is a daughter of Rockefeller, would that work?' The old man thought for a minute. In the end, the idea of his son being the son-in-law of Rockefeller moved him. He agreed. A few days later the man went to the magnate and oil king Rockefeller and said, 'I have a spouse for your daughter, will that work?' Rockefeller said, 'No, get out.' Then the man said, 'if the son-in-law I find for you is the vice-president of the World Bank, would that work?' Rockefeller agreed. Another few days later, the man went to the president of the World Bank and told him to appoint a vice-president. The president of the bank laughed, 'I already have so many vice-presidents, I cannot appoint another one, especially immediately.' The man said, 'If the vice-president is the son-in-law of Rockefeller, will that work?' The president agreed. So this young man immediately became the son-in-law of Rockefeller and the vice-president of the World Bank. This story tells us that the abilities of the young man are not important; what is crucial is how you gather the strings and build the bridge [work as a go between] and operate things. If he [Boss Chen] just shows up at the appropriate time. We will be the brothers and the father, and can ask him for whatever we want. We already have our Rockefeller who will build the bridge with strings. What we lack is a World Bank."

One of the friends at the table says: "Ok, my bank can do it. How much is needed?" Song holds up three fingers. "30 million, alright". "Add a zero," says Song. "Ah!?" Song says he is not alone in this project, and there is no risk. We need an asset form filled out with 300 million. Then, when the company lists, 300 million will become 3.5 billion. The bank's money will be returned." "Okay".

Boss Chen tells his works to frighten Grandma Li to get her out, as all the other households have left, and she is the last dingzi hu/

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 26

The scene from end of last episode repeats, with Su Chun going into his new office.

The general manager of the factory apologizes to him and says that they may need Su Chun to invite Mayor Zhang out for some events in the future. One of Su Chun's colleagues tells him that he heard Su Chun is the Mayor's wife's sister. Su Chun suspects that Haizao's lover, Secretary Song, is behind this, not Mark.

Haizao is bored. No one has time to eat with her and she has nothing to do: Song is working, Haiping is teaching Chinese, and Su Chun is being taken out to karaoke and banquets by his colleagues.

Song's wife and her friend have a long conversation about marriage, mistresses, and life. Song's wife knows he is back with Haizao.

Haizao starts to practice yoga.

Su Chun's colleagues ask him for a favor over dinner. They also give him a gold Buddha statue. They continue to drink and dine with him. He gets drunk and they take him to a massage parlor. When he awakes he runs out of the room.

Secretary Song calls Haizao and tells her to go look at apartments. If she likes them, he tells her to call him.

Haizao does not like the apartment because it is too far from her work and from Secretary Song.

Boss Chen comes to visit Song. Chen complains again about Grandma Li and her stubbornness in not leaving. He has done everything he could, knocked down all the surrounding buildings and even their roof, polluted water runs through the area, there are cockroaches, mice, and bugs. Song suggests that he give a little extra money to them. Chen says that he is in the business of making money, not losing it. A dozen square meter house demolished in exchange for an over 100 square meter apartment. Song says he must solve the problem, no matter what. There is a Hong Kong businessman who wants to enter Jiangzhou real estate, and it will involve Chen's company if he can finish the job.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 25

The end of last episode is repeated after the restaurant name, South Beauty, is shown again.

Secretary Song's friend tells him that the real case involves a factory in Fujian Province that manufactures the same product as the one in Jiangzhou. They are asking for help from Song in order to join the two factories together so that they both profit, in which case the Su Chun issue would be meaningless. Song promises to look into the issue.

The executive from the ship-building factory makes a call and demands that the case against Su Chun be dropped immediately.

One Month Later

Su Chun receives a notice that the case against him has been dropped. Then a top executive from the factory comes to tell him that they have joined with the Fujian factory, and to thank Su Chun. He is dumbfounded.

Young Bei takes Haizao's mobile phone to find Su Chun's number and sees a text message from Secretary Song. He is angry, tells Haizao he wants to break up, and strangles her. After releasing her, he leaves.

He returns the next day to get his things and move out.

Haizao goes to Secretary Song's office and waits by his car. When he leaves work, he sees her crying. They drive off.

Secretary Song tells Haizao that he helped Su Chun with his case. Haizao says she accepts her fate and will return to Song's side.

Song tells Haizao to live in the apartment he lent to Haiping and Su Chun. He says that soon they can go look for housing and buy one.

The next morning outside the apartment complex, two people in a car write down in a notebook the department of Song.

At Grandma Li's house, she is still lying in bed. Her daughter-in-law tries to get her to move around. Grandma Li says she wants to die. The daughter-in-law says she can't die because it would be worth anything. Grandma Li says: "Oh, so my life is only worth a hukou".

The head of investigative unit goes to the leader, named Secretary Sun. Sun says to keep waiting to see what their overall scheme is before they act.

Su Chun is congratulated by his colleagues at work. He gets a new office.

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 24

Haiping goes to the police station. They ask her about the blueprints that Su Chun drew, and whether he gave her money. She says nothing. The police say they are giving Su Chun an opportunity for a light sentence, and that her lack of cooperation will hurt him. She remains silent. The police leave the room.

A group walks into the Jiangzhou City Planning Showroom. Secretary Song is among them. He calls Mark (the foreigner Haiping is teaching) to ask about something, and Mark tells him about Haiping and Su Chun.

After Haiping leaves, the police talk about the case. Su Chun has confessed, but they lack other evidence. In particular, they can't find the 50,000 yuan that Su Chun took since it was not deposited in the bank.

Song asks his friend to look into the case -- "to see how deep the water is, so I will know from where to engage the issue". 24 million yuan is the claimed loss, but they only gave Su Chun 5,000 yuan a month in wages. The annual income of the entire output of the company is only 35 million. The company is a ship-building factory. Song’s friend tell him that if he is unfriendly with the man, he can help Su Chun get a light sentence; if he is friendly with the man, he will have to use his guanxi to get the company to withdraw its case. Since no indictment has been made, this will end the case and the involvement of the police.

Haiping goes to her lawyer but he says that the case has been taken over by one of the best lawyers in the city. Haiping is puzzled and calls Haizao. Haizao knows nothing about it.

Mark claims that he helped Haiping. She is very happy.

Su Chun is released from jail. He is at home waiting from Haiping, who is walking home with Mark. Haiping is ecstatic to see Su Chun when she arrives home.

As Secretary Song and the lawyer are leaving, someone is taking photos from the second floor.

Song meets with the right hand man of the ship building factory boss. He asks to have the case ended. The man agrees, but says there will be questions from above and the law may still move forward without them. He then leaves.

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 23

Haiping waits in the office. She meets the manager and asks if something happened to Su Chun. He says yes, and that Su Chun is suspected of selling company secrets.

Su Chun has been arrested and is in jail. Haiping goes to the police station. The officer says they are interrogating Su Chun and that Haiping should get a lawyer.

Haiping calls Haizao, who is back at her company. They search the newspaper and online for a lawyer. Haizao calls Young Bei, whose friend knows a lawyer that has experience with economic cases.

Grandma Li's son says he can't live any longer in the house. He wants to take the few hundred thousand yuan and live out his life. Grandma Li admonishes him, and says that in the 1980s, someone with 10,000 yuan was well-off. But now it is nothing. The son’s wife agrees: "We must get an apartment -- they keep their value".

The lawyer tells Haiping that the case involves over 10 million yuan so there is a possibility of more than 3 years in jail. She goes to try and raise 100,000 yuan for bail money. She calls Haizao; Haizao has the money.

The police call and ask Haiping to come to the station for questioning.

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 22

*Apologies for not posting but my access has been limited*

Secretary Song's wife proposes divorce. He rejects her offer. She sobs.

Haizao says to Young Bei that they should break up. They both cry.

The scene changes to Song's wife crying. Song, like Young Bei, asks for forgiveness.

Secretary Song and Boss Chen go to visit Grandma Li. Song introduces himself as the developer of the property. Grandma Li sizes him up and says he is not a developer, but a government official. He smells not of money but of power.

Haiping gets another job teaching a foreign student after her Japanese student scores very highly on a test. She happily tells Su Chun.

Haizao and Young Bei are still together and happy.

Secretary Song is at dinner with two others (they are eating at South Beauty 俏江南, a relatively expensive restaurant in Shanghai). The larger one asks the other if the price of real estate in Jiangzhou (Shanghai) will still increase. "It will". "I am silly for asking. This land was bought by you, and the housing was built by one. Half of the city belongs to you. Of course you hope prices increase". Song says he is poor and never cares if prices increase or not. The large man replies that buying property is way to stave off inflation.

Song: "That will be difficult (to stave off inflation by buying property). The price of real estate is the result of governmental factors. Look at Jiangzhou (Shanghai). Every day hot money is flowing into the city. Then look at the area of Xujiawan (an obvious reference to Xujiahui area of Shanghai): how many new banks appear there every day, and how much stored in them is from outside? And this is only what you can see. There is more that you cannot see. If one day all this money leaves, ha! Look at Tokyo and Seoul. It's been over a decade and they haven't recovered. If at that time you apartment is still valuable and worth a lot, there will be no ordinary people who can afford it. No one will take it off your hands. And you will have to pay property tax and other assorted taxes. Perhaps in the end your asset will become a burden (资产变成负担)."

Will there be a property tax? There must be, to police you heartless rich people.

The other man says he has three parcels of land that he is sitting on. If he develops them early and sells them, he will miss out on profits. Song says that making some profit is better than losing money. They drink.

Haizao goes to her company to quit her job. Boss Chen tells her to wait and talk with him, then he calls Secretary Song. Song is in an important meeting, but he leaves. He meets Haizao as she is walking out of the company, takes her things, and leads her away to talk. She cries.

A triple screen appears: in the bottom left, Haizao and Song are together; above that, Young Bei skips happily into work; and to the right is Song's wife and daughter walking along the street. As Haizao gets into the car with Song, the other two screens fade out and the remaining one enlarges. Song drives off.

Haizao and Song have coffee. He gets a call and must leave. As he is leaving, his photo is taken.

[Funny note: when Haizao is sitting at the coffee table, she gets a text message. She opens her phone and it is branded "Coogle" -- with a C instead of a G. A clear instance of shanzhai (see my earlier post from last year).]

That night, Su Chun does not return home. Haiping is very nervous and goes to his workplace but does not find him.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 21

A new house -- a large, multi-family one, similar to the one from the longtang -- appears and Haiping and Su Chun are living there now. Haiping is trying to find a job but is unsuccessful. Su Chun suggests that instead of studying for three years Haiping should open an online store and sell things from her home.

In a club, Boss Chen and Secretary Song are sitting and drinking wine. Song tells Chen to continue paying Haizao her salary, even though she doesn't come to work, until she quits.

Haiping calls Secretary Song and asks to meet him. He agrees.

Interesting moment in a coffee shop: Song's wife and her friend are out to enjoy themselves a little. Song's wife asks for a drink menu but is told that there isn't one, and that they must order from the counter. The friend says: "For once we go out for some pizazz and we suddenly we are like peasants entering the city" [i.e. they don't know how to behave or the procedures for things]. Song's wife is spending money and treating herself because of Song's affair. Her friend tells her to divorce, but Song's wife says that is not a possibility, since she is over 40, not beautiful, and divorced so no one will want her. They rush off the pick up their children for extra classes.

Haiping returns the visa card and house key to Secretary Song. He leaves.

Young Bei says he and Haizao should get married. Haizao tells Haiping, who says she shouldn't get married just to make up for mistakes in the past.

The investigation team discovers that the apartment Haiping and Su Chun were living in, and the villa where Song and Haizao had trysts, are owned by the same person: Boss Chen. The team says Chen has no background, so there is suspicion about him. They plan to investigate all the projects of his company.

Boss Chen calls Song and says the dingzi hu are more difficult to move than Mount Tai. Chen goes to Song's office. Song has looked into the background of Grandma Li: her grandfather owned the street that they are demolishing but then his relatives moved in from the countryside and didn't return the housing after [1949] Liberation. Song says he will go meet her.

Haizao tells Young Bei they should wait to get married and he is infuriated, chasing her into the bathroom. Then he apologizes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 20

Haiping is arguing with Su Chun about her argument with her Japanese students mother. Su Chun says, "You are really someone who likes to eat salty turnips and worries about blandness (咸吃萝卜 淡操心) [salty and bland are antonyms, so the phrase is binary contradiction between "salty people" and "bland people"; it means someone who sticks their noses into things that don't concern them and that they don’t really understand]." Su Chun says they have enough money for the end of the year, but when it comes time to pay back their loan, it will be tough (悬).

Young Bei forgives Haizao and agrees to get back together with her. While he is speaking, the doll that Secretary Song gave Haizao is in the background.

Haizao asks Haiping to return a platinum Visa card to Secretary Song. Haizao is afraid to meet him, so Haiping says that Haizao's feelings for Song are still strong.

Haiping tells her mother to take Ran Ran and go back home since she will have to move out (the apartment was given to her to use by Song's friend). Haizao also wants to move.

Haiping stands in front of Hanyu Property (a intermediary real estate company). She looks at papers and through the window at properties posted. She looks melancholy.

Young Bei is cold to Haizao. She remembers their good times together and is sad.

Ran Ran tells Haiping that she doesn't want to separate from her.

One Month Later

Young Bei and Haizao are moving into a new apartment. Later, after losing a computer game, Young Bei smashes his mouse. Haizao asks him what is wrong. He stares at her then grabs her, throwing her on the bed, then chasing her down the hall and strangling her. He screams in anguish.

Haizai is in bed, with her clothes tossed on the floor. She looks hurt, physically and emotionally. Her neck is bruised and she attempts to hide it by applying cream.

Narrator: "Now, the one who is depressed is Haizao."

Wo Ju (Woju) – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 19

Secretary Song picks up Haizao and is followed by a Taxi. He drags her up the stairs of his villa with her fighting him. Haizao screams for Song to release her. He says, "You have a lover, you want to get married. Playing a game (逢场作戏), I will do it to you in spite." Song rips off her clothes. Haizao sobs, "Why did she [Song's wife] have to talk to me that way?" Song holds her and says he is wrong and will always protect her.

Song and Haizao get into the car to leave. It is raining. Song turns on the headlights and Young Bei is standing in front of the car. The internal car lights are on as Haizao stares at Young Bei. Young Bei is crying; he runs off. Haizao tries to follow him but Song stops her.

Young Bei flashes back to all his happy moments with Haizao. He screams in agony.

Song takes Haizao to look for Young Bei. They go to Haiping's apartment and bang on the door, waking Haiping and Su Chun. Song drops Haizao off and says anything should be left for the next day.

Haizao tells Haiping, who talks to Su Chun. Both Haiping and Su Chun ask, "Did he [Young Bei] block the bed? (给堵床上了)" [appears to mean "find them in bed", netizens (in China) find this phrasing quite interesting.] Su Chun convinces Haiping not to call all Young Bei's friends and colleagues since this would let them all know that Young Bei had been disgraced, and he would have no face -- and perhaps really commit suicide.

At dawn, Young Bei is seen sitting by the banks of the Yangzi (Huangpu), staring at Lujiazui. A song about betrayal is heard. He returns home and sees Haizao. He faints.

Young Bei is sick. Haizao buys him medicine and stays with him. He says, "I am fine". Haizao packs her bags.