Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's cold at winter solstice time!
But perhaps colder in the hearts of humankind

In Guangzhou right now, it's 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That's also known as not quite four and a half degrees Celsius. The high today was 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 Celsius) and the low tonight is 33 degrees Fahrenheit (.5555556 Celsius).

These are not temperatures at which it is reasonable not to have a heat source in your house.

And yet, oh, Guangzhou, that is how you have chosen to live, with no heaters, no central air, no vents, no radiators, no ondol floors (god, how China makes a person miss Korea!), no, nothing. Block after block in this city, this city of 12+million, this third-largest in China, this booming, fast developing, "modern," crowded, international (!), high-rise-filled, mad-for-big-business city, you will find apartment buildings crammed together, rising from the dirty streets in endless rows and patches like whitegray tile 20-floor stalagmites, and perched next to nine out of ten windows you'll see dirty mounted air conditioners because oh-my-god-whine-whine-whine-it's-so-hot-here in the summer, but inside we freeze.

I hate this mentality. I hate it with a feverish (feverish! I wish! would that I could feel so hot!) disgust because it's so pathetic. I do not understand why people, when faced with a choice of doing something that makes things better or makes things worse, choose to make things worse.  Why do you rapidly industrialize and build cities that you cannot properly heat? It's not even cannot. It's more like choose not to. The people of fucking southern China and its weird-ass habits drive me up a wall. "Ha ha ha," they laugh, "we don't like spicy food. Ha ha ha, we can't travel to Hunan province with all those fiery dishes. Ha ha ha, we eat frogs and snails and puppy dogs and anything that moves. Ha ha ha, we are the local people, and aren't we so cleverly Cantonese and quirky. We don't like hot air. We like fresh breezes."  AS IF, Guangdong. As if any breeze in this province retains a modicum of freshness. You're pathetic.

No, willful coldness INSIDE buildings is not as bad as eating cats and keeping every cat, dog, rabbit, etc. in sight in a cage. Because of the ways I have personally with my own eyes seen cats restrained, and because I know that some of these mother fuckers I have walked by/seen spit in front of me/been jostled by in the subway support the nasty, shady, sub-legal, violent-fringe cat-and-dog-meat industry, I will never call this bullshit not-having-heat-in-apartments the worst thing about Guangzhou/Guangdong. But willful coldness INSIDE one's home is a valid reason to be annoyed. And annoyed I am.

I am also cold.

In one of my offices, everyone bundles in jackets and hats except for the two people who have brought in space heaters to place next to their chairs.

My other offices are not frigid, because the international company that owns my institute has managed to do one thing right, apparently, although they're incapable of putting a decent bathroom in every location.

I have been wearing sweatshirts, socks, hats, and the like at home for the last week and only been warm when under the covers. Forget showering on days I don't go to the gym! I pick up my cell phone and it's cold to the touch. And no, I'm not running out to buy a space heater because we are leaving this godforsaken place in less than four weeks, and we'll have two out-of-town trips in the meantime (to Macau for Christmas day and Shanghai for New Year's), where I hope I'll enjoy a reprieve.

Stupid. So, so stupid.

I really wish I could save the cats on my way out of this place.

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