Creativity and Ramblings from the heart of NYC and around the World

Friday, January 20, 2006

To join in the Knitting Olympics, alone or as a team...
and other News from China

I've joined the Knitting Olympics (for those who haven't heard yet, click on over to the Harlot and have a read) and as I sat here in China, without my books or stash at my fingertips, I wondered what to knit that would be a challange? Then it came to me...perhaps, the team sport of making afghans for the Purls of Hope project.

Remember THIS?... the folks here in China pledged 100 squares for blankets for Katrina. I recently received the squares (well more than 100!!) but my emails have bounced when confirming the send to address originally planned...
SO -- PLAN B -- I'll have to put them into blankets myself and send them on down. But where to send them to?

That's where Denise came in - -and none too soon either. She introduced me to Purls of Hope... Viola - squares become blankets and fill a need! YEAH!!!!

Back to the group sport part...I wonder if it would behoove me to set up some group knit-ups and/or arrange to get piles of squares into helpful knitty hands? I mean -- I don't now about you - but the thought of knittining together over 100 squares in 16 days is a bit daunting to ME! All of those stitches to pick up...all of that stash I could use up??? Mmmmmmmmmmmm. (Could also selfishly give way to the breaking of the yarn diet as the medal at the end...)

What do you all think? Hmmm?

Back to what's happening in China...
While yesterday was the VERY TASTY Steamed Fish head of my favorites. (Don't knock it 'till you've tried it!)
fish head

Today was the always welcome CRAB DAY!!!

See! YUM!! FOr the first time, Ho went to the market himself to buy the crabs...and his directions were a little confusing...and he brought back twice the usual amount... so this meant...Round two!!! (Ho, Fanny, Min and Loeman around the table with Mag and A-Sau in the background.)
It has turned colder...feels 55-60F. Not freezing, but I'm glad I have the cardi and scarf on.

The hotel has put out the CNY decorations and the factory's will be finished by tomorrow (I'll take a photo and post it when they get the tree with the peach blossoms installed at the entrance. Talk about abundance."
CNY decorations
A few things I've learned about Chinese New Year:
1. The word for red envelope is similar in sound to the phrase of good luck/good fortune --- thus all of the red envelopes hanging and given out. (Also why you bring money in a red envelope to a wedding.)
2. The word for the mini-tangerine orange is similar to the word good luck/good fortune --- thus mini-tangerine orange trees everywhere.

Lucky symbols for the welcoming and start of the new year!

Workers from the local factories began their journeys homeward to all parts of China this week. It's the one time of year they spend time with their families. Possibly the one time of year when they spend time with their children as often they work far away from home in order to provide for their children while their parents stay home to raise their children. This also means that some sections of China consider people old at 40. At 40 they often are the grandparents. The life expectancy, depending on the region, can be shockingly low. (I would guess largely due to lack of nutrition.)

The factory where I spend most of my time is more like a compound. It's gated with tall walls and a security guard at the front. It's not to keep people IN but rather to keep the unwanted out. It is not unheard of for people to be robbed when walking alone outside the compound. Within the compound walls there is housing, a cafeteria, game room, recreation area etc.
Many of the workers here are from very remote regions of China and are taught one basic skill upon joining the factory. Approximately 5% of the factory employees can read. Public education is not mandatory, it's a privilege. Most workers that arrive haven't had any formal education and can basically cook a basic meal, tend a field and clean their clothing. Any additional skill is a bonus.

Being from a remote area, things that you and I may consider as basic knowledge...they aren't. It's quite common that people are killed by simply walking across the street...of course they walk out onto a highway and in front of fast moving vehicles because they don't know any better. Two nights ago when leaving for the night we noticed a police car as we were getting into the van. They didn't trust parking their car outside the compound with the hooligans at night. Just outside the compound there are train tracks that go to the remote northern regions of China. The Policemen were all standing by the underpass of these tracks.

Apparently there has been an increase in deaths on the tracks as workers from the remote regions think:
a. They can just hop on the fast moving train need to buy a pesky ticket and board at the station.
b. The raised tracks look like a quiet place for a nap out of the way.
c. The raised tracks look like a quiet place for young lovers to go have some privacy away from their factory.

Basically, someone in charge said, "go make sure there isn't anyone on the tracks" and the local men go, stay for a few hours max, and then move along. It was the first time I'd ever seen men there -- and I would imagine I won't see it again. When asked if they had done it they could now say yes...but you don't see them educating the local population at the factories of the dangers. In fact, our van broke down in front of the hotel and it took 3 hours for a new car to arrive to bring Mag back to the factory after our dinner because the police had closed off every road with any train tracks over them (we pass 3 I think between the hotel and factory) to check for people.

It brings me back to the huge need for a basic education here. I just wish folks in the US realized just how privileged they are to have an education available to all for free.
(Do your homework kids!!!)

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Blogger Rossana said...

Thanks for sharing your adventures and insights. I'm enjoying reading about them. And the pictures of the food! YUMMY! I'm getting hungry now! >>drool<<

10:56 AM

Blogger Nessie Noodle said...

WOW- I am fascintated with this post. What are you doing over there??? (I am sure you talk about it in detail somewhere in a previous post)

i am so amazed at "factories" and the lack of knowledge WE have in the US about where our "stuff" comes from. Really amazing...
Tell me more - tell me more.

11:40 AM

Blogger Delia said...

Oh my god, that crab looks so good. Some of your posts make me so hungry!!!

12:05 PM


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