Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Back from Beijing... it's way too hot there this time of year. Just like Tokyo, only worse, because of the air pollution. But I'm not complaining, we saw some great things. The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Bird's Nest in Olympic Park, the Great Wall in Mutianyu... But most astonishing, I have to say, was the acrobatic show, the National Troupe performing all kinds of crazy insane gymnastics and death-defying tricks, on a stage with various props, over an hour and a half. You wouldn't believe what these kids could do. And by "kids" I mean children, as in young enough to be in elementary school. Middle school maybe. Some tiny bendy girls were thrown through the air, landing onto someone's shoulders without breaking pose; human chains would break apart and reform, almost in constant motion. The bicyclists were something else too-- balancing on the handlebars, on their heads, then crowding onto a single bike, first 3, then 6, then 12. I wish I could speak Chinese so I could talk to them, ask them to dinner and grill them about their lives. How many hours a day do you train? I would ask. Do you live with your family, you mom and dad? Or do you live in a dorm with the other athletes? Do you go to school? Are you treated well? How did you end up in this life? Do you choose your specialty -- plate spinner, yoyo thrower, vertical pole climber, slack wire artist, umbrella juggler, contortionist -- or does it choose you?