Chengdu, Rugby, The Internet, and Colonialism
I love to travel. Therefore, (comma) this is a love story.
I’m currently living in Chengdu, China. I’m traveling and working here for two months. I’ve made it through one of those months. Chengdu, as a city, operates as though it might be the child begotten by Seoul raping Accra.
My living situation, too, is quite nice. This child, my home, was born when a Super 8 Motel was raped by the dodgy hostel I visited in Algeciras, a hostel so grimey I considered my shitting the bed to be a favor.
My Chengdu home had water-damage prior to my moving in. While I was assured that my room’s water damage had been repaired, no mention was made regarding the adjoining room, the hallway, the bathroom, or the kitchenette. I didn’t know about these rooms or the state of their water-damage repair because the superintendent didn’t tell me. Because they were still damaged.
Now each day a new drywall expert comes in to my apartment unannounced. This happens at a different time each day. While making themselves at home, these experts stare critically at walls. Often the experts touch the walls, rub up and down to better conceptualize the swelling they are already looking at. They wait patiently to see if the walls’ baby will kick.
During walks from bedroom walls to bathroom walls and on to hallway walls, these experts invariably chain-smoke. Kung Fu Panda special edition cigarettes. For want of an ashtray, they drop cuddly black-and-white ashes on the floor, then put butts in the toilet. Sometimes they rub more grout on the wall to try to cover up the swelling and discoloration. To circulate the smoke and to let mosquitoes in, they always leave the screen-less windows open. I rarely open the door to my bedroom.
To mix things up, sometimes the super will text to let me know that one of her “friends” will be spending unknown numbers of days in the other bedroom. Minutes later, friends will arrive, offer no greeting and take the hallway/bedroom/bathroom-monopolizing baton from the experts. If I need to use the toilet and mine is being bogarted, I can use a public toilet. In China, chimpanzees are apparently taken to public bathrooms and allowed to throw feces about, as though the bathroom were the cage at the zoo. The chimp feces policy was apparently the government’s response to a public health reform push.
As an ascetic, I push my body to the limit as often as possible. Severe self-discipline and whatnot. Non-attachment. I thus rape myself as often as I can. Non-attachment to personal welfare. From eating Hot Pot, the Sichuan specialty where you cook meat for yourself in gallons of grease flavored by hundreds of Sichuan peppers of both the spicy and numbing variety, and consequently having terrible stomach cramps and diarrhea, to binge drinking and consequently having terrible stomach cramps and diarrhea, to eating a Big Mac and a Spicy Chicken sandwich as a snack on the way home from nights of binge drinking and consequently having, to playing rugby and consequently not being able to walk the next day, to. This is how some of it might look sometimes.
In China, Snow beer is the highest selling beer brand. That means: “As of 2008, it is the best selling beer brand in the world, with annual sales of 61 million hectoliters, despite largely being sold only in China.” According to the Wikipedia article on the subject.
In a brilliant advertising move, the beers’ label features same-size lettering apparently meant to be read with ones head tilted at a 90-degree angle. Where is the brilliance? Well, in using same-size lettering in conjunction with an ambiguous M/W character, the word appears to read Mons as readily as it reads Snow. “…the mons, is the adipose tissue lying above the pubic bone of adult females…. In human females this mound is made of fat and is supposed to be larger. It provides protection of the pubic bone during intercourse.” Wikipedia.
The violence experienced at the interface between my perception and the reality around me necessitates a buffer. I need a fatty tissue to absorb the violence constantly threatening me, to allow the bashing brutality to dissipate. I must maintain my sanity in the face of a world constantly threatening my understanding with contradictions, a world constantly exposing holes in my social theories. I need MonSnoW. I need it to remind me that in a world that fails to adhere to my preconceptions, I can be just as FUCKING INSANE as the world. So, with MonSnoW and my resultant ability to come to terms with schisms, I am able to continue operating in a world relentlessly doing violence to my psyche. A world that rapes me. It is my fatty layer, made to ward off the violence of life. Life as reproduction and intercourse and violence and propagation and proliferation and a choice to keep lifing. And sometimes I overdo on the MonSnoW to the point that it is just another agent of violence on me and my digestive system. It is contradictory too.
Rugby players tend to be a drinking lot. Wikipedia says that’s true too: “Those considered to be heavily involved with the rugby union lifestyle—including heavy drinking and striped jumpers—sometimes identify as ‘rugger buggers’.” And while those involved in the ex-patriot slash Chinese national informal amateur rugby league are not rugby union players, and while many may not have ever seen a rugby union match, and thus cannot be said to be “involved” much less “heavily involved,” they do get involved in “heavy drinking.” While MONS is only 3.3% beer, the 53% baijiu more than makes up the difference on the “heavy” front, and all the calories in all the 3.3 beer can lead to a different kind of “heavy.”
In order to tolerate total abuse by others on the pitch, one should prepare the night before. The night before thus calls for proper intoxicants (enjoyed at the pub sponsoring the following days matches). For some sadistic people who would put themselves in such situations there may be a pull to start the night with one of China’s illicit delicacies.
China is a land of mass production. If something can be made in an improperly ventilated, dark factory, then there are millions of hands to get to work on the production of that something. That said, China is not famous for their quality production of foodstuffs. Rather, they tend to generate publicity on the Large Scale Salmonella in Pet Food front.
So while the Middle East has it’s Opium and Heroin, thanks to the right climate for the poppy and a bit of a green thumb, it is perfectly logical that the chemically concocted, factory produced friend in euphoria, Ketamine, would be coming out of the country with pollution and a bit of a production-line thumb: “there have been reports of industrial-scale illicit ketamine manufacture in China” (Wikipedia).
Thus, some Rugby playing, mostly foreign, middle class types can casually ruck around their current pitch with a discerning eye (they wouldn’t want to walk away from a ketamine deal with a baby bottle full of MSG) and procure the perfect pick-me-up for a night of debaucherous inebriation before a weekend of debaucherous bodily abuse.
Drunken tragic 10AM alarms, back to friday night’s pub, onto the bus to sweat off the alcohol with 100+ other players for thirty minutes, to the pitch, broken collar bones, pulled groins, broken ribs, sweat, heat, summer in southern China, sunburns, matches on matches, burning, and back on the bus. TEQUILA! “Jesus can’t play rugby ’cause he’s got holes in his hands JESUS CAN’T PLAY RUGBY ’CAUSE HE’S GOT HOLES IN HIS HANDS JESUS SAVES JESUS SAVES JESUS SAY-AY-AYVES jesus can’t play rugby ’cause he’s only got twelve friends…” off the bus, into the shower, back to the pub, off to the restaurant, interrupting Chinese diners with song: “Stand uuuuup…if you hate the French…Stand up…if you hate the French…” and as the foreign celebrities debase themselves before their Chinese waiters turned viewers they seem to be taking a sort of pride in debasement of self standing up on chairs as ‘fines’ for good play or poor are issued and whilst on chairs holding two glasses of beer to chants of “Seiko Seiko, Hashimoto Seiko” after a Japanese speed skater and standing there, shirts pulled over the tops of heads rounding out speed skating symbolism and one by one encouraged to speed skate fists pumping hip to mouth to the rhythm of the chants and downing beers with as few or as many ‘pumps’ around the track as is necessary, back to pub, boat races, dance competitions, beeeeeeeeeeeeers, sleep at seven AM, wake at noon, on the bus to Big Love Music Festival. Waking up at 2PM and it’s time to prep but I have no materials; opening my computer, knowing I must teach a lesson on early American history, I wikipedia: “US History” to refresh my memory, take some notes, and walk to teach class armed with the WikiTruth. In all my endeavors. Wikipedia violently takes control of the internet as the internet takes control of the world. The rape of historical fact. The internet. Travel. A love story.
Mons Beer, n.d. photograph, viewed 19 July 2014, <http://kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com/en/133Kaleidoscope9898.html>.