China: Two Scenes

1. The pace of change: I dropped off an armload of clothes at the dry cleaners across the street. Passing by a few days later, I saw the same storefront now completely demolished and being rebuilt by a work crew with jack hammers and mallets. The owners were standing in front, powdered white with dry wall dust, handing out clean clothes to their startled customers.

2. Sitting at Costa coffee in the Grand Gateway mall, I was privy to an interchange between a European businessman, a Chinese businessman, and his Chinese translator. The topic? A new Hello Kitty product to be launched in time for the holidays. Out of respect for the harried businessmen, I won't divulge what the new product is, but I got a good look at it as the infuriated European rapped the pink plastic prototype repeatedly on the table, talking rapidly and in a grave voice about deadlines, shipping, price points, with furrowed brow. I have never heard anyone utter the phrase "little fashion kitty" with more seriousness.