Mr. Joke Returns to China
Our traveler returns to China this summer for a month of teaching, lecturing and learning at industry and university sites in Shanghai, Nanjing and Chongqing. Last summer, during his Fulbright to Beijing, he was once introduced to a formal conference as “Mr. Joke,” a moniker that has stuck. Following is the record of Mr. Joke’s reprise.
The China Red Tent
Every night in old “CQ” the people take to the streets. Even in this Seattle-Portland-like drizzle, they will not be deterred. Sidewalk cafes sprout like mushrooms, sheltered from the rain by bright red canopies. A single diner, her umbrella hanging from the rafters and chopsticks in hand, takes her repast, silhouetted by a bare lightbulb.
The Bridge Over the River Jia Ling
Looming out of the fog like the skeleton of some prehistoric dinosaur, the bridge soars out over water and thin air — the cantilevered construction project daring gravity and mass with its frozen leap of concrete and steel — dwarfing tiny figures of workers, while distant apartment towers on the far shore appear hauntingly through the mist.