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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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Flurries and Typhoons    

By Garreth Humphris
2146 Views | 1 Comments | 8/11/2011 2:47:08 AM

As you are aware from my last postings, the weather here has been quite hot and humid - a daily rain sprinkling followed by cracking heat that evaporates the puddles and leaves the air heavy and close...and just to make things more uncomfortable, I've been wading around in a local swamp with my camera trying to get that definitive “Chinese water lily” photograph.

And there is a bit of an urgency for this now - the last patch of swamp near my house has been taken over by a building company and it would appear (according to the glitzy advertising) to become transformed into a series of gaudy mock-Romanesque villa units with verdant hills and manicured lawns.

When I first moved into the area, the whole place was farmland; waist-deep fields of lilies, harvested for their soft fleshy seeds and their crunchy flower heads as food - the roots making an interesting chilled summer snack - a cross between sweet potato and Clag. Fed by a large, shallow freshwater lake, the whole area was an idyllic sanctuary just a few kilometres from the city. The evenings used to echo with the peals of legions of frogs - now it is the one or two feeble croaks of the old inhabitants - the ones too poor to move out once the land has been acquired by someone else. The last damsel-fly took a hit last year, caught in a blast of “Baygon”, by my over-zealous neighbors who enjoy the cool lakeside air and the wonderful lakeside views but want to annihilate anything else associated with lakeside living. Just like the old farm-folk of a few years ago, even nature has had to make way for “progress”.

The local construction workers from their multi-storey perches have been screeching in laughter down to me as I slosh around in knee-deep mud, they can't believe a huge guy would want to do such a thing.

The older people, who work as gardeners in the area hail me in the mornings, a secret understanding of what I am trying to do - and usher me to blooms just emerging and delicate fronds spied from the bank. Leather faces beaming under broad straw hats, happy to be helping such a strange foreigner, keeping keen eyes on my shoes and socks stashed under the trees lest some wayward soul decides they can use size 14 walking boots for something! One old man tells me that this is his old farmland - pointing out a small bridge in the distance, “from here to the bridge”. I ask him how he feels about it now it is a park and soon a skyscraper villa - “no matter”, he says, “as long as I can walk around it tending the grass, it is still mine”. He saunters off to his pushcart - "hey, here’s a new flower, did you see that?”. I wave and push my way in through the stalks and leaves.

I went out this morning to find the whole area flattened - not by workers or front-end loaders but by the wind of last night's passing typhoon tail. All the flowerstalks were crushed, their delicate heads crestfallen in the mud. The heavy leaves ripped, folded and tattered.

Maybe nature had had the last say over this last patch of swamp - maybe new flowers will appear before the last draining.

With so many changes in China so rapidly, I wonder if anyone will miss the little things?

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#2011-08-12 01:18:29 by thedragonb1 @thedragonb1

My goodness.. so bloody depressing. :(

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