Major generalizations follow…
I’m sitting here watching NBC’s coverage of the Olympics and they’re following a group of University of Iowa Olympic volunteers around. The camera crew followed one student who enjoys going off the beaten path and checking out the neighborhoods and side streets of Beijing.
The NBC reporter, in the usual somber voice-over tone, describes these Chinese that live in poverty (her word, not mine). I watched the clip with a decidedly different perspective:
Woh! Are those concrete gutters in that clip? And concrete sidewalks? That’s high living. In fact, I don’t think I saw a sidewalk during my entire trip in India. There must be some sort of cooperation and organization in that Beijing neighborhood beyond anything Indians are capable of.
Where is the open sewage?
Why aren’t people honking at every single man, woman, child, cow, goat, dog and car on the road?
No diseased villagers or rail thin children literally hanging on your legs? I laugh at you Beijing.
Why aren’t cars passing each other in the oncoming lane? Things run so much faster that way I’ve found out. Why wait for the rickshaw in front of you to get over 10 MPH when you can play chicken with a 4,000 LB truck?
You get stared and smiled at Iowa students? Your tourist stares aren’t met with even deeper, more intense stares right back at you making almost every public movement uncomfortable?
Of course, China has parts of it that most certainly rival Indian poverty. But, after seeing what I saw over the last two weeks, I found NBC’s interpretation of poverty in Beijing to be quite laughable.