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chinese foxtrot in 2nd class lounge

sunny 18 °C
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Sunday 7th April
The Yangtze widens

The Yangtze widens

A glorious sunny day. The river is very wide now. The banks are indistinct and there is big ship traffic as well as small junks. Noodles for breakfast.
The young couple in the bunk next to mine have a hyperactive over intelligent and moody three-year-old. The father also has a very loud voice. The mother wants me to teach her to disco dance.
I am much gawped at all day. Unlike Indonesia you have to initiate the smile and then have the satisfaction of seeing their faces crack wide and flash their teeth. It’s quite innocent gawping of surprise, and if you catch their eye they snap out of it and look away. You are sure of to catch them having a second look though. I look a right mess now with a scruffy five-day beard.
Chinese slapstick video in the canteen and dance party in the reading room. As I can neither foxtrot nor samba, and since I would stop the party with my presence, I content myself with peaking through the curtains. It’s mostly men dancing. Stiff and proud. A little round 40 year-old woman, who worked as a railings painter, was standing aside. I asked to why she didn’t join in. 'When I was young it was the Cultural Revolution, and I don’t know how to dance.' She explained. I was the first foreigner she had ever spoken to. Her English was good enough to have a conversation with, and learnt from the BBC World Service. The number of people who try to start a conversation with great enthusiasm, and then peter out in the middle of a horribly mispronounced second sentence. We both end up staring out at the ships wake in silence, remembering the past.

Posted by 1985 trip 16:00 Archived in China

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