This is going to be a not-very-China-especially-considering-its-title post because like an ass I've let too much time elapse between the trip and my writing it and my famous Shenoy memory has more or less wriggled out of the "burden of remembrance", as I remember reading somewhere.
Why am I writing this post, then, one might ask in a fit of petulance. Well, that's because I said I would in 'China-Part I' making it a fait accompli, which is a phrase I've been using practically since childhood.
I remember reading it somewhere and for a substantial part of my life I believed that 'fait accompli' was French for 'if luck is on your side'. In my MBA student days, I would waste no opportunity to include it in one of my assignments, and my teachers were often browbeaten into submission by sentences like "the ROI of the project is likely to be 17.3%, fait accompli".
The concerned teacher, knowing that, like 'paradigm', 'vis-a-vis' and the General Theory of Relativity, only three humans know the meaning of 'fait accompli', would dish out an 'A', apprehensive that I might be at his throat otherwise.
It was many years later that I was suitably pulled up, by the missus of all people. "Naren!" she exclaimed "What on earth do you mean "India will win, fait accompli". I told her I used 'fait accompli' in the sense of "Inshah Allah", whereupon she laughed for five minutes, then despaired for another five because she had evidently married a complete moron, and then told me the bitter truth. Fait accompli does not mean "God-willing". Fait accompli means fait accompli.
I hope this clarifies the situation for you, fait accompli.
Moving on to China, we spent most of our time in a furniture mall, describing the humongousness of which is beyond the abilities of a Bombay-wallah brought up on 2BHK. I am reasonably certain that they conducted hang-gliding lessons in that mall on Sundays and national holidays. I don't speak much Chinese (their thank you is "she she yeah" to which, and here I think they pulled my leg, the reply is "Beyonce". So you go "she she yeah" and the Chinese person says "Beyonce". Honest). As I was saying, I wasn't able to enrol for the hang-gliding lessons, but I am reasonably sure they are conducted there.
The place sells every concievable kind of furniture. I didn't even know there were that many kinds. There is classical, neo-classical, colonial, modern, contemporary, futuristic and Zaphod Beeblebrox (for want of a better name. I think they call it 'designer').
The missus had a field day and began shopping on a point-and-shoot basis. Like all good human drama, I will leave my agony to the readers imagination and tell her only that after three days of lunchless shopathons, I felt like a lost traveler in the Gobi Desert seeing mirages of beds and mattresses only to find they were furniture shops.
Eventually, we got back to Guangzhou city (the aforementioned furniture place was another burg called Shunde, a couple of hours drive out of Guangzhou, where we had shifted base camp when the shopping was happening).
In Guangzhou we, surprise, surprise, shopped again. This time for the famous fake stuff.
To tell you the truth, I couldn't bring myself to believe that the stuff was really fake, so well is it crafted. I thought of the guys selling them as fine, altruistic gentlemen, upholding the true spirit of socialism, insistent on everyone, including obvious losers like me, wearing a priceless Rolex on his or her wrist.
The missus refused to let me even look at them. "I've been told they are hopeless" she told me, and added ominously "and I do not wear fakes", which I knew well because I had, in the early days of our marriage bought her a fake Omega watch which got me a big wet kiss and continued to yield much love and affection till some spoilsport friend of hers told her it was fake. I got it nice and proper at that time.
Coming back to the res we found that almost everything is Guangzhou is fake. Every manufactured thing, that is. But there is a lot of lovely food and tea available and we spent the rest of the day pottering about the place, eating quaint meals at quaint places, perhaps sometimes comprising of quaint animal species but we never got to find out because we mercifully spoke no Chinese beyond Beyonce.
I loved the people. The ordinary people. They are genuinely polite and have the innate humility that only a couple of generations of brutal totalitarian rule can bring. There is prosperity in China, true, but that is only for the few million early birds who lucked out in Deng's time and started something. The rest of the country is comprised of confirmed slaves for all time. A revolution waiting to happen, if you ask me. And I hope it does, in our life time at least. Those people deserve better.