14 August 2008

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The book in us

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The book in us (or the need to write a
book). This is certainly a new topic for us. However, what is the status
of the book today, given that most of our information comes to us via
the internet?

Unfortunately, I did not write an essay on this subject; writing a book
is not something I have done. However, I have an email from Laura, who
is in Beijing with the Spanish contingent for the Olympics, describing
her first few days at the Olympic village.

I am a nerd: Here I am, in the Olympic site, with my laptop and writing
to you. I have to compromise- my letters will be in English, I doubt
that I have time and patience enough for three versions . I hope it is
all right.

In front of me, a orchestra plays cha-cha –cha and meringue. I try to
write while my feet dance! :-)

I see those journalist: lenses the size of my waist, several of them
even... Sports uniforms, athletes, judges, big screens, and a warm
tropical rain. But let it


I slept virtually nothing. I enjoyed this night, as all the others (I
seem to have an endless appetite for them, no matter how much I get to
know that I would grow tired of them in the end... I don't think so J).
When I came home, I took care of the packing, the house and the work
that needed to get done before leaving... All at the same time. And
saying goodbye, just as important. The sunrise found me sitting on my
bed, all finished... including me.

No problems with the flights... over than turbulences over Europe. I had
the nicest Chinese neighbour, most eager to chat- that is, nice short
and clear sentences. He saw my special meal, asked unabashed, and
laughed aloud about me being a vegetarian – well, I like that, outright
as it can be J.

Arriving to Beijing... I start meeting people from other offices. Some
alone, some with spouses, sweethearts, children. All tired, a bit shy,
but excited. I am getting the idea that this could be fun.

At the hotel, in my welcome pack, I see a most important thing –
accreditations, plastic accreditations with photos, names, and things...
First hint of what is to come: accreditations, already secure, have to
be activated. Have to go to a place to activate them... that is, for
somebody to put a watermark in it.

On our way there, I start to see people in uniforms... they are all
over. I did not know how I was to react to that, but it works, actually.
You learn to recognise people as being a part of the team, even before
you talk with them. The general picture is colourful and happy.

Monday :

First working day for the training and the spirits are high. I look
myself in the mirror: the uniform is nice, but it certainly changes my
appearance: a sky-blue polo shirt and light pirate pants. Picture this,
because, as you know, I don't have a camera, so I am not going to send a
photo. No J.

There we were, having dinner together. 70 people from 22 countries,
trying to learn each other's names. Hard work. I rather at peoples
accreditation, I have a chance to remember the names if I see them. Very
quickly I see that there are some people I stick with, from the very
beginning. Here, when you meet people, you ask name, and then which
venue you are on: I answered wrong to the second question (first
impressions count L). I thought I would be at the Olympic Sports Centre
Cluster, whatever this might be. But I learn something else: When they
were asking the question the third time, a happy voice says "She is with
me". Ok. This is "Peter" (you say it like this, although it is spelled
"J-o-n-a-t-h-a-n" in the accreditation- English is an interesting
language). Peter takes the lead, it seems that I am going to work at the
Fencing Hall. Good, a sport I can understand, and looks nice. The last
couple of days, I will be doing modern pentathlon and this is going to
be fun. (http://en.beijing2008.cn/sports/modernpentathlon/ ),


I am over my jet lag. And I get to know my venue. I meet my results
manager and a venue manager (Cheng). I get an idea of what I have to do,
and why it is important. The Fencing Hall is impressive. I got lost in
it (a couple of times, in fact), and I meet the grand, tasteful
entrance, the long halls, the field of play ... I am looking forward to
see it live.

We finish early, and we try the Forbidden City, using the Metro, and in
a short ride I meet what it means to be an a crowded Chinese metro. As
Peter said "What is the Chinese for sardine?". A lady was there,
"helping" people in, but also careful not to fill it too much... Peter
placed himself tactfully, behind me. No need to worry, though, the
Chinese are, as far as I have experienced, very respectful with women. I
have no complaint about them, really. They are mostly helpful and
polite, and we reach a good (non verbal) communication.

A good thing: I get my clothes washed and ironed (very nice in this
summer). What I mean with summer? I mean 30 something degrees during the
day, and twenty something at night. A humidity of 80-90 %. I like it
mostly, especially after sunset. I am going out without a jacket here,
believe me J


Fencing and pentathlon: I am going to be busy during the games. Peter
and me make an schedule, so that we can do other things too, such as
sleep once in a while J. Today we visited the venue where we are going
to have the swimming, riding and running for the modern pentathlon.
Perfect venues for the Asian Games, Olympic standards- Yet they have
made a new one of everything. At the last Asian Games, as far as I can
see, they just made the venues huge: Now they are gean tmega grand. The
birds nest, looks bigger and bigger each time I see it J. Around the
venue, I see a couple of hundred security people training karate in open
air... It was a perfect afternoon, light blue sky, warm breeze, and
birds singing. I like it here.


A morning off, seeing the temple of Heaven. A magical moment: at the
shade of some old trees, some Chinese couples were dancing something I
would call Chinese style ballroom dance. Slow, graceful, I wish I dared
ask someone to try it with me. Forgetting Beijing and the Games,
forgetting everything, but the music, the breeze, and those people.

Going to work. At the metro station I get to know that I am not allowed
in. I am accredited many times over, but I can't. The rules have
changed, now I need a little addition to my cards. I know I cannot
discuss with the young lady, so I get my (Chinese) manager at the phone,
and let them do the talking: I can hear that he is dissatisfied with the
idea of me not being able to go to work. But nothing to do, apparently:
they have made a "new policy" a few hours ago. At last, I ask how I was
supposed to go to work. I thought I was ready to hear everything, but
definitely not what he said: he asked me to walk to the venue. A Chinese
person, asking me in earnest to walk well over an hour , even with my
seven league boots... (To the Spanish: el acabose)(To the Danish: saa
staar verden ikke laengere). I was determined to go to work, so I
collected my jaw from the floor and started the looong walking ...
Moments later, somebody touched my back: the young lady had received
instructions : "We have a new policy (apparently few minutes ago): you
may go". I was, then allowed to go to work... But only for this day,
forget tomorrow. The Fencing Hall seem to be very popular, a couple of
presidents are going to visit it, so they are closed . (a cal y canto)
(godt og grundigt). Thank you, sirs, for an extra day off J

I have tickets for the gymnastics, as I had wished. I got those, and a
coffee (at last, a decent coffee). I walk there in the summer afternoon,
my tickets, my coffee, transpiring happily: I am beginning to feel quite
all right J


I hung around with the British: we go to the Forbidden city, and then to
the old Beijing. Yet the best part of the day is the Opening Ceremony,
no doubt of it. Beijing is a party, full of expectations. A bunch of us
find a big screen in a corner of the city. There we sat on the warm
pavement, with some biers and ice to keep them cold. You have seen the
ceremony, no doubt, so no need to tell you about this. It got only
better at see it here, with all those people cheering. Somebody made me
aware that I was sitting in the middle of a warm pool (which had been
our ice just minutes ago). I was transpiring happily, so I did not even
notice J.


Yet some hours off. Today is the day for talking, keeping contact, go
for a run... And the pandas. They are huge, cute, and lovable. They
receive "love care": the excuse is that , if they learn to trust you,
you can take blood samples, smears and the like without anaesthesia . It
is good for the animals well-being... and, I am sure, for their keepers J

I have time still to go to a supermarket and fill up for my Chinese
party: look forward to it J. I bought cookies, dried fruit, some
snacks... It was in the food section of the supermarket, so I am sure it
is eatable ... at least for the Chinese J. Give a try when I come back,
I think it will be worth your while !

And this is it, for now. See you again soon.


See you Sunday, take care




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from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The book in us

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