Technically the title should have been ‘Love In Qinhuandao’ but ‘Love in Beijing‘ is a more marketable name IMHO.
The truth is, although Beijing is 2 hours away(by train) from Qinhuandao,I haven’t been there yet.I don’t think I’ll be able to go there as the ship will be in china only for a few more days before heading towards South America…Hot Tamale Latina Mamasitas! here I come!
Well this should also be titled “Shoreleave Pt 2”,as this can involves yet another surreal experience on a boys day out.
Ok…I’m not a night owl.I prefer the day for my explorations-but once in a while I want to experience the dark side of the moon.
But since I’ve arranged my schedule on a permanent manner to be free during day and work early mornings and late evenings, I’m left with the only option to go out during the day.
‘Teen saab! Will you be going out this afternoon?’
‘Ok…I’m coming with you’
I’ve told him not to call me sir.It irritates me…we are colleagues, equals although in different departments,but he feels he must show me respect.
He foolishly attributes magical qualities to me.He secretly wants to be like me…but thinks he never can…I used to think that way once.
‘Sure! But We go where I go…’
‘Yeah Yeah…No problem saab’
There…he did it again.
Everytime he calls me Sir,he makes me feel old.
He is 6 months older than me.
We go out,to the nearest mall-predictably so.
Right before my eyes the entire world is turning into ‘The Mall-Lands of Generica’.
It is a fast spreading disease-perhaps viral,but I see homogenised malls popping up everywhere- and ubiquitous brand names showing up like an urban plague.
There’s a KFC in Shanhaiguan.There’s a McDonalds in Qinhuandao…Nike,Adidas,Kappa,iPod,Nokia.Coke,Pepsi et al are being stamped into our very consciousnesses and blurring and merging with our realities.
In the city,be it in any country,any continent – malls are taking over.
Giant Evil Malls are taking over the world -and turning humans into consumerist zombies.
‘ Have Money?
Buy happiness! ‘
is what these Giant Evil Malls want us to believe – titillating the human zombies by a barrage of endless streams of empty noise (aka advertisement) into buying stuff that they probably didn’t need by working a job that they probably hate.
GIANT EVIL MALLS ARE TAKING OVER THE WORLD ! (Oh! and if you are still interested – they are turning humans into consumerist zombies)
I see the charm of the city being diminished – there is not much fun when you see seven malls in a row and realize at the sixth one that last five weren’t really that different from the one that you are in-and you just wasted a lot of effort repeating a pointless activity.
As a seafarer, I see that ther modern breed of seafarers only goes to malls of every city-and all they have are generic memories and advertising slogans and jingles to take back home.Wasted memories.
Go to most malls and you already know that there is a food court- with all the major fat foods brands (fast food -Anagram-fat foods), a megamall,a few apparel stores,a few cosmetic stores-perhaps a multiplex,the parking lot,the aseptic washrooms…a few features will be changed-but the basic premise of the provided experience is the same in every place.
We go to some forgettable mall -there are twelve more in that block alone -the recirculated stale air conditioned air,the desperate looks of the salespeople,the general hum and din of the crowds- they all greet us in.
He has to buy some gifts for his nephews and nieces…I have time to kill.
In the end we both buy stuff that we don’t need -a toy remote contrl helicopter he claims is for his 2 year old nephew (I don’t believe you.At 2 years he’ll be using the RC as a pacifier), and I buy a soft teddy dog ,which I tell him is for my girlfriend.
Which one?… he asks.
I haven’t decided yet… I say.
He thinks I have three girlfriends-and that I’m a ladykiller,a real life casanova,don juan etc etc…
My inventive stories have certainly worked on him.
I cant admit it that I bought it because in a brief moment of temporary insanity, it looked like Moti when it was a puppy -just as soft- that would be simply too weird to admit.
Now I have to gift it to somebody -preferably mom (tell her it looks like Moti and hope for the best)
After the mall I’m promised a tour of the dark side of the moon.I’ve been waiting for this.
He is a vampire- a creature of the night and knows all the places that go thump in the night.He promises to take me there…
We go to KTV – a popular chain of chinese karaoke bars -and sit down with a couple of buds.
That’s budweisers to you bub.
I can somehow tolerate beer – two bottles at most.
I know its not manly to admit it -but I never learned how to drink.
Two bottles -and I feel woozy…and I stop.
For the most of the time -I don’t drink at all.
So there we are -somehow once again in a familiar situation -on the dark side of the moon and deja vu strikes-Hey ! Now I know why I don’t do this…It’s because I don’t like it.Doh!
But I’m there with the buds…the manager directs us to our sofa…right in front of a bunch of teenagers.
What are these kids doing here?… I wonder
Oh well, at least they aren’t drinking…they are all hooked to something more addictive -texting each other.
I don’t pay them much attention- a boy and three girls-chattering away intermittently to each other and on their cell phones.
Soon the guy drags a girl behind us and announces in a very loud shrilly voice ‘This girl…this girl very beautiful…my girlfriend …I kiss’
The announcement is in english-clearly for us.We are forced spectators.She fights him off as he tries to kiss her.
The girl melts in embarrassment.The boy is clearly delighted.In the concrete jungle, he has staked his claim on his chosen mate.
He is the alpha male.He rules the jungle for now.
I ignore him.
In the jungle, the quiet jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.
The lion does not bother too much about the lowly gnat.
She sits there embarrassed and squirming,looking at me from the corner of her eye.
The other girl starts staring at me…the cute one.
She says Hi.
I go back to staring at my cell phone.
She continues to stare.
She must know…I don’t go after young girls…like her…too young…the conversations are terrible at best.
Older ones are smart enough to engage me in a proper conversation.
She says Hi again.
Hi! how are you ?
I love you very much…she says.
Not missing a beat, I reply ‘I love you too!’
Clearly their gang is amused.They start laughing.
My colleague’s jaw drops a mile.
His bud nearly slips from his hands.
He has witnessed something amazing.
Random chicks are chatting up with me…just like that…without any effort from my side.
So it must be true…three girlfriends and all that spiel.
If he only knew.
Clearly the guy sitting next to the girl seems agiatated.
He has something to say.
I love You…he says to my colleague!
And my colleague is left sputtering…I’m not gay you bastard! He says.
They all laugh again.
She says bye bye…
And I wave at her, and continue to ignore her.
Man ! I love shoreleave.