Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Too much time on my hands.
A major Chinese vacation looms. National Day on October 1 seems to be a combination of our July 4 and Labor Day weekend, but it's also a week long holiday that only begins on Oct. 1 and is known as "Golden Week." It's a time when Chinese go visit their families, take local vacations and celebrate "modern" China's founding.
The paper - which has been packed with pre-holiday stories about domestic tourism and myraid events (mostly in other cities) celebrating Golden Week, including a "Papaya Festival" - will not publish during the week which defies every sense of basic journalism I've ever known. But as foreign devil coworker Jeff says frequently, "TIC" (short for "This is China").
I'm kind of dreading the stretch, though we will be paid for it. I haven't made enough connections yet to guarantee companionship for any of that time and still haven't figured my way around Shenzhen well enough to think of things to do during the day. Maybe I'll just pick a bus at random, ride it and see where I wind up.
Money is a little tight at the moment, too. I do have an invitation to fly to another city, Chengdu, to meet a Chinese e-mail/pen pal I've corresponded with for a few months but the cost and the prospect of trying to navigate through Chinese airports and flights is somewhat daunting. Still, I may make the plunge.
Meanwhile, that Papaya Festival is looking better all the time.
Office politics.
Went to lunch with two co-workers - female section editors - who treated me to a great spread of pork and celery dumplings, a heavy soup/stew of noodles, beef and vegetables - asparagus was the only one I recognized - and some chive stuffed flat bread, barley soup, and green tea.
Turns out they not only have to sell ads, they must also sell subscriptions - 80 in three months. One begged to know if I had any friends here yet who might want to buy one. I told them that with the exception, perhaps, of the Podunk Weekly in someplace like Rat's Breath, Ark., those duties are all handled by separate departments at US papers. (And that I felt damn lucky not to be employed here under those conditions).
On the way back in the elevator up, a man asked them who I was. They told him and then mentioned I'd worked at the Rocky Mountain News.
He immediately broke into a huge grin and switched to fluent English and started rattling off all sorts of info about the Rocky. "It's a tabloid, Colorado's oldest newspaper and now in a JOA (joint operating agreement) with the Denver Post because it lost so much money during a circulation war with the Denver Post. It also has several Pulitzer prizes for photography, right?"
He'd never been to Denver and, as it turns out, he probably never will be. After he got off on a floor below the SZ Daily, my co-workers told me he had once been the editor of a major Chinese language paper here but had made a "very bad political mistake" (unspecified) and has been banished to a dead end admin. job in the publishing group as a result.
"It is too bad," said one. "He is a good man and was a very fine journalist."
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