Monday, 28 September 2009

Friday, 3 July 2009

Censorship in China

Due to the censorship in China this blog has been moved to:

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Is Chinese difficult?

The spoken language is not difficult. The only hard stone in Chinese are the ideograms (called 汉字 hàn zì)。This is the only obstacle in this language that does not have conjugation of verbs and declinations of adjectives. That's why the majiority of expatriates in Shanghai can speak Chinese but cannot write or recognise more than 10 ideograms. Even language schools in Shanghai offer the teaching of the Hanzi in separate courses, as if the Chinese language could be so easily split in phonetical and grafical representation. 

The learning of the ideograms requires time. To be able to read a newspaper you need to learn 3000 ideograms. An additional problem of the ideograms is that you have to continuosly train the writing as you may risk to forget them after a while. My Chinese teacher, a 50 years old lady, does not remember how to write the colours (黄色,蓝色,红色)as she hardly write these hanzi in her everyday life.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Destruction works continuing: Preparing Shanghai for Expo 2010

The third phrase in my Business Chinese text book is Shanghai has changed considerably (上海的变化真大啊!shàng hǎi de biàn huà zhēn dà ā), said from the CEO of an international company coming to Shanghai for a business trip (出差 chū chāi). Well, I have been living in shàng hǎi half a year now and I can prove that this city is undergoing incredible changes, from day to day. 

Since years now the city is a building site, with hundreds of buildings still in construction (apart the immense Expo Site). Entire districts, made of old houses, have disappeared, are disappearing or are going to disappear. The government is in a hurry to destroy a carry away what could upset the 70 millions tourist that the city is expecting for 2010. 

Well, from one point of view the destruction of the old unhealthy houses could be a very good thing if they would be replaced with new and safely build compounds. But to me it seems that the government is replacing the houses with office buildings or just with compound that can give a home to 1/3 of the original people. I am just wondering what is happening with the people that were once living in these places...

This city is very polluted. The water is contaminated, rats are infesting the city, everywhere is  dirty and smelly. I have read a report in the China Daily today, that in the majiority of the city offices there are rats, and I do not even want to think what the poor people in the slums see in their rooms... In the television a couple of days ago Chinese were happy to show the electric system they have installed all around a "model unit" to electrify the rats that are sometimes big as cats. 
But let's think further, we have to stand up (起来 qǐlái, as the Chinese hymne encouragingly sings), we have to build the tallest building on earth in the muds of Pudong (one day one of the exit in Pudong has to be shut down as there were muds coming out of the metro line). And everything goes under the motto of Better City Better Life and the Expo Mascot, the Haibao (which means treasures of the sea) represents a clean ocean drop, which should stand for life.

How are they going to manage the 70 million tourists if you have now some problems to get a metro, a bus or a taxi in the rush hours?

And I am still waking up in the middle of the night due to the noise of the trucks that are carrying half of the city outside the city.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Chinese calligraphy: Figure iceskating on 4 fingers

Equipped with brush, paper, ink and a lot of motivation I had yesterday my first Chinese calligraphy lesson. As any other Chinese (traditional) activity or art expression, this has always seemed to me an easy and relaxing activity. Well, after the first trial I have to admit that writing hanzi (the Chinese name for ideograms) with the brush is everything but easy and that after the first 60 minutes I was mentally exhausted.

In calligrahpy every stroke has to be executed with defined movements, with a defined startin and an ending point for each single stroke that has to be found in one of the 4 parts of the stroke square. Mind, hand, brush and paper must become a unit during the execution of every stroke.

All this remembered me the learning of the hedges of the blades in figure ice skating. As in figure ice skating also in calligraphy the slowliness and the stability of the movement expresses the performer's skills. It took me years to learn the basic lines and movements of the blades on the ice. I suppose that calligraphy will require the same time and dedication. Let's see how far I am able to go. 

***In the picture my name: 米凯拉 (Micaela) 

Monday, 4 May 2009

Shanghai Textile University & Raffles Design Center

The best Chinese university for textile engineering studies and fashion marketing is the Dong Hua Da Xue, in Shanghai.

On the campus you also have the Raffles Design Insitute,  apparently a well-known Asian fashion design college that operates in collaboration with the Dong Hua University.  
  • If you log in into the website an operator will give you immediate assistance. Unfortunately you will get answers to your questions only if you are interested in studying at the college. The communication will be shut down if you say you would like to attend a seminar, which of course I find very rude. Also the staff is very rude if you are not interested in the becoming a student.
The Raffles Design Institute is a very nice building, with a modern design. I couldn't take any picture as since the time I put foot in the building I have been unofficially escorted and didn't get a chance to speak with any student. It seemed to me that I was not welcome in institute, mainly because I said that I was not interested in the college 3-years-program (which is far beyond my budget, 230.000 RMB, which is 26.000 Euro).

The staff teaching at the college is international. I was happy to see that even an Italian has found his path into the institute, which is surely a nice and creative place to work and study.

I would recommend a visit to the university and to the Raffles Design College to everybody who is interested in fashion design and fashion marketing. Also the adiacent textile museum is interesting as it explains the method of clothes production and has a good collection of Chinese clothes from the different dynasties (Shanghai Museum of Textile and Costume). Free admission.


Thursday, 30 April 2009

Cartoon fair

The CICAF, the China International Cartoon and Animation Festival will be held in Hangzhou every spring. I couldn't manage to visit it this year but this is on the wishes-list for next year.