Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Way We Live Now

Well, no, this is not the way we live now. Presumably the photo shows an ordinary Chinese person cleaning up after dinner in a very small amount of space. The humble arrangement contrasts starkly with the opulent display of the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. (Note the small figure of Mao set before the screen. Click twice on picture for larger version.) Still, there is that color TV. I was in Berlin in 1990, at the time of the currency union between East and West Germany, when the East German DM was put on equal par with the West German DM. All the East Berliners who had saved money for so many years found themselves with some real purchasing power overnight. Among their first purchases were television sets manufactured in the West. Vacation trips to Italy were also popular.

I could not help thinking that the Chinese person (is it a man or a woman? I'm not sure) washing up would give a lot to work as a busboy at one of the Chinese restaurants in Manhattan. He might have to live in a single room with five other busboys, but they would at least have running water.

No comments: