February 20, 2010

The World's Tallest Building

Now eclipsed by Dubai's Burj Khalifa in height, Shanghai's World Financial Center was at the time of my visit the tallest operational building in the world by roof height excluding spires or antennae. Resembling a giant can opener, the WFC also has the highest occupied floor on Earth and is the tallest building in China. There are three observation decks with different entry prices, as some people prefer only going to the 94th or 97th floors rather than all the way up to the 100th. I was propelled to the topmost floor by a space age elevator complete with sterile white interior and pulsating lights. I coolly observed Shanghai from my vantage point, tiny automobiles whizzing by hundreds of feet below.


"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory." ~ Betty Smith

February 18, 2010

Slim Pickings

The soft sensitive skin with a wonderful complexion; the dark silky hair that flows through the fingers like the Yangtse through the People's Republic; the delicate beauty combined with quiet dignity - these are all characteristics that Chinese girls appreciate about me. I in turn admire their uniformly slim physiques and usage of high heels. Rare is the day that passes where I recollect encountering more than one fat Chinese woman in public. Most are petite, so they often wear shoes that will give them a higher elevation. Unfortunately, most also cannot speak English.

When I inquire as to whether Chinese ARNABeauties possess any English language capabilities, I am frequently met with blank stares, nervous giggles, silence, and/or awestruck expressions. This gives me no clear indication as to whether they can or they cannot. Cunning women also have the option of pretending not to be able to speak any English, since I will be unable to gauge their proficiency until they open their mouths. This, combined with my vacous grasp of the Chinese language, makes communication difficult.


"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." ~ Winston Churchill

February 16, 2010

Damsel Drop Off

When working late in Indian cities, women are often concerned about making their way home safely at night. There is a chance that they will be harassed by men with ill intentions if they are alone. Companies in the booming IT industry did not take this matter lightly. To reduce the chance of any untoward incidents that could potentially occur when darkness strikes, Satyam provided a late night taxi service for all employees.

The taxi would drop ladies off at their doorsteps in case they had to do overtime work. A precautionary measure was also taken so that the taxi driver and a female employee were not the last two people remaining in the vehicle, as he could also pose a threat. A male employee would be dropped off last, even if it meant taking a more roundabout route. This ensured that at no point would a lady be alone with a predatory man - two or more perhaps, but never just one.

On the few occasions when all the other menfolk had already left the office, I would sacrifice my personal hours to ensure the safety of any damsels who had to work late. My warm heart and strong body provided them with a sense of security during the taxi ride. I would gallantly escort them to their doors, and they would give me a shy smile before going inside. Once at home, the lady could call a company switchboard operator to give notice that they were safe and sound.


"True manhood doesn't seek to compromise a woman's purity. True manhood stands up to heroically protect it." ~ Unknown

February 09, 2010

Sneak Peek

Although the Chinese education system relies largely on rote learning, many of the men have still retained a healthy sense of curiosity. In the toilet, they will not shy away from sneaking a peek at their stall neighbour's utensils while taking a leak. Foreigners are of particular interest, as this allows them to broaden their frame of reference. My focus on the task at hand and lack of peripheral vision prevents me from participating in this activity.

On another occasion, I was writing a text message on my mobile phone and a complete stranger came to shoulder surf. The contents of my SMS were written in English, so the man was using it as a chance to study up for the TOEFL examination he planned to take in the near future. He stood directly behind me, his head brushing against my jacket as he tried to read what I was texting. I made my message excruciatingly long, so he eventually lost interest and wandered off.


“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” - Albert Einstein

February 08, 2010

Modern Marvels

I am not the only impressive addition to urban Beijing in recent times, as the city strives to reinvent itself by blending its ancient charm with modern marvels. My office building is located in the heart of the central business district. Right beside it is the third phase of the China World Trade Center. Still under construction, it is the tallest building in Beijing. The monolith stands out awkwardly in a cityscape where skyscrapers are a relatively new addition.

Along with the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube, the National Center for the Performing Arts, and the WTC, the CCTV headquarters completes a quintet of present day architectural triumphs. Nicknamed 'big underpants' by the locals, the oddly shaped building is comprised of two structures which were constructed separately from the ground up and then connected at the top to form a unified structure. The building is an eyesore to some and a breath of fresh air to others. Still unoccupied by office workers, the hulking edifice is boarded up while questions about its future remain unanswered.


“The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.” - Thomas Kempis

February 06, 2010

Formula 1: 2009 China Grand Prix

The Shanghai Formula 1 race is the main spectacle of speed on China's motorsport calendar. On race day it was raining heavily. The opening ceremonies included performances by the Shaolin Monks and a lap around the track with the drivers waving from atop a double decker bus. The crowd cheered as the first roar of the engines was heard. As the rain continued to pour down the cars zipped past, completing a a few warm up laps before the green lights indicated the Grand Prix of China had begun. It was a running start, with the pace car leading the way for the first few laps before moving aside. Sebestian Vettel and Jenson Button battled for the lead throughout the race, with Lewis Hamilton displaying some flair along the way but fading at the end.

On the wet track visibility was low and grip hard to come by. Aquaplaning was the primary activity of the day. we witnessed several spectacular crashes as driver errors unsurprisingly increased with the poor weather. Sebastien Vettel won the the race, but the day belonged to the drenched fans who had valiantly weathered the rainy day to witness the powerful combination of man and machine that is F1.

Race Notes:

My poncho was punctured early on in the race as the spectator seated in front of me could not maintain control of his umbrella. One of the spokes was violently driven through my protective raingear, tearing a swath through the plastic covering. The gash reduced my downforce and I began taking on water, never completely recovering for the remainder of the race. My pit crew could not patch it and no spare ponchos were available after the start of the race due to strict regulations prohibiting the sale of them within the circuit grounds.


"If you spend all of your time racing ahead to the future, you're liable to discover you've left a great present behind." - Tom Wilson

February 04, 2010

Modes of Transport

The diversity of ways to get from one place to another is as astounding as the ARNABeard. On my way from Hong Kong to Beijing, I set a new personal record for most distinct modes of transport used on a contiguous journey from point A to point B.

- cable car from the top of a hill on Lantau Island to a MTR station
- subway to my destination MTR station
- ferry across the harbour from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon on the mainland
- taxi to the Elements bus station
- bus across the China-Hong Kong border to Shenzhen Airport
- airplane from Shenzhen to Beijing

For the pedestrian portions of the odyssey I walked on the road side footpaths, underground walkways, elevated platforms, escalators, travelators, boardwalks, gangplanks, and stairs.


“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”
- Oscar Wilde