Friday, November 04, 2011

The weekly haiku

Choked in autumn smog,
The sunless city shivers,
Damp cold in its bones.

It all comes together: some of the dampest air we get all year, accelerated construction efforts on behind-schedule new subway lines throwing earth and demolition dust into that damp air, the biannual spasm of building maintenance adding to that pollution (probably throwing in some asbestos for good measure), the power stations going into overdrive to answer the increased demand for heating, domestic coal stoves being fired up (supposedly outlawed, but still commonplace in the hutongs), and the superstitious burning of fake paper money (and clothes) so that the departed ancestors will be able to wrap up well during the imminent winter.

Mid-October is pretty regularly the shittiest time of the year to be in Beijing. This year, these drab, joyless, throat-rasping, soul-crushing days of unbreathable air and sunless sky are dragging on and on.

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