Saturday, August 9, 2008

Opening Ceremony

First, an online high-five to Lauren for knowing that I wrote the word guanxi (loosely translated "connections") in my last post.

My attempt to see the opening ceremony instead of watch it on tv can be summarized by one picture:

Can you see any fireworks? Neither could we. And it's not just because of the smog (recently relabeled "fog" by the Chinese Olympic Committee).

I stood on a bridge--that was the view for non-ticket holders who aren't NBC--with several hundred Chinese people as the auspicious time of 8:08 August 8, 2008 drew near. Then it passed. We on the bridge still didn't see anything coming from the Bird's Nest, located in the picture in between the skyscrapers on the right and the building with video of fireworks in the center. From what I'd heard, the huge firework display would happen near the beginning of the opening ceremony.

Then we saw one firework go off. Then a burst of fireworks. And then nothing. "Wouldn't it be funny if that was it?" I joked to the American couple standing on the bridge next to me. Apparently, I wasn't joking. About half an hour later, when nothing came next, all the Chinese on the bridge decided to go home.

I had come to the spot itself because I knew that right next to the Bird's Nest was the building with a video screen several stories tall. "Excellent," I thought. "I'll watch the fireworks over my head and the show on the screen." Only the screen, several stories tall, didn't broadcasting anything but previously recorded fireworks. So we were left standing on a bridge, alone, a quarter mile away from the action watching for fireworks that didn't seem to be coming.

Not only that, but I was separated from my friends. I had tutoring in the afternoon, so they went ahead of me. It turns out they arrived early enough that the protective barrier was put up with them inside. I didn't know this, though, and spent an hour or so trying to ride the right bus to get closer to them. I ended up on the bridge far away with two very nice Americans, but they weren't my friends. And there was no fireworks/ceremony-watching, regardless.

How do you say "disappointment" in Chinese?

The low came when we jumped ship and tried to go to the Olympic party we had tickets to. All my friends were going and I was to meet up with them, since Emma had my ticket. But taxis were scarce and I didn't really know where I was going. Then I passed a group of Chinese on the bridge crowded around a girl's phone watching the show.

"This'll make a great blog entry," I thought to myself bitterly.

Just then, Emma calls to say I should hurry to the club because they have the opening ceremony in high-def on huge screens.

I've let myself describe the full extent of my frustration because the second half of my night made up for it. This video gives you a good idea:

If your body wasn't pounding with the background music, the speakers on your computer aren't giving you the full effect. I didn't imagine I would watch every country in the world stream into the Olympic stadium to a throbbing techno beat, but loud, slightly drunken cheers for each person's country removed any doubt of patriotism.

And with weightlifting tickets for tomorrow, I fully agree in saying let the games begin!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Thanks for the high-five about guanxi... that was a complete and total guess on my part (I don't read Chinese) simply because I knew the context you meant about 'connections'. I've been to China twice in 2007 and it's easy to tell that one can either be smoothed through anything, or denied anything, especially regarding a visa :)