day 36: western imperialism

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I was riding the train from the most western city in China, Kashgar, to the hottest point – temperature wise – in China: Turpan. It´s a 17-hour train ride. I bought the train ticket very late so I could only get a ticket for the cheapest category, which means 17 hours of sitting in a chair. When night falls in and the sand dunes outside disappear in the night, old people and children will go down on the floor and sleep a while there. Snacks like chicken legs or fermented eggs will be shared. Once in a while some mean guy from the train company will pass through the aisles and tell the kids to get up and the others to sit straight. When he´s gone, everybody will go back to the floor and be comfortable again.

I sat down next to a Chinese girl with glasses. On her white T-Shirt was written “Love you so much” next to a red lip stick. When I sat down, she looked at me, waited, laughed and then asked me in english where I was from. We talked a little, but her english was very limited and my chinese non existing. So we started listening to music on our phones. She put her ear plugs in my ear and asked me if I knew that song. It was Lilly Allen “Hard Out There”. I love that song, it´s great. Zheng Wei Jie, the Chinese girl, was happy. She even had a Karaoke app for the song and we could sing along together. The lyrics go like that: “I suppose I should tell you what this bitch is thinking. You’ll find me in the studio and not in the kitchen. I won’t be bragging ’bout my cars or talking ’bout my chains. Don’t need to shake my ass for you ’cause I’ve got a brain.” We laughed and the we sang the chorus together: “It´s hard, it´s hard, it´s hard out there for a bitch.”

Then I let her listen to some music on my phone. Right away she liked “Cold War” from Janelle Monae. When we listened to Colin Hay´s “Waiting for my real life to begin” she was looking for words. She touched her heart and then she told me: “I am moved”. We went on to listen to Shakira´s “Hips don´t lie”. She liked it. I played a Reggae song to her and told her about Bob Marley. She wrote the name down in her phone. We ended the session with one of my all time favorite cheesy songs: “Love you always forever” by Donna Lewis.

By the way, I don´t think that Zheng Wei Jie understood the words of Lilly Allen´s song about bitches…

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About Michaela Krimmer

35, anthropologist, Austrian, female

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