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The China Adventures Of Arielle Gabriel

May 2006: Miscellaneous Thoughts

The air here in HK is really the pits, and it cannot be blamed on the factories of South China, or even all the cars.  I just think, quite frankly, it is the fact that street density here is ten times what it is in New York City.
While sitting on a large boat with two open sides of windows whipping ocean air over me, I almost gagged from the perfumes, hair styling mousse, and deodorants of the couple behind me.
Even in an elevator now, with ten or twelve people around me, I notice how the small space fills up in the summer heat with all those chemical-scented body smells. Of course, now and then, there is the horrible whiff of someone who uses no grooming aids at all.
Because I am becoming more smell sensitive, I begin to pick out certain chemicals, a creepy lemon lime smell that is in a lot of cosmetic products; it just smells like a science laboratory to me.
I can even pick up mildew and mold now, which enters onto our clothes even when they are on the clotheslines - it is not dirt, it is not a body smell, it is little particles of mold and mildew and it connects with fibre scents, and body scents.
Having suffered a mildew plague overrunning my Deluxe Hong Kong Studio Apartment on Cheung Chau - that's said most sarcastically - I am glad we are having a few typhoons presently, as the colder weather hopefully slows down the fungi growths.
Though I question the bird fly panic, there could be many other problems hovering here, due to the crowding which will never abate, as the city is perennially popular.
A thought on the mosre hopeful side.
I was happy to read aboout the Han Chinese cultural movement activated by young people in Beijing, and agreed with their artistic desire to wear beautiful and classic robes of the Chinese peoples.
I also agreed heartily with the spokesman, from a Chinese military family, that the cheongsam is not really very Chinese.
Sorry, but I see pictures of this on old Hong Kong posters from the Twenties and Thirties - I tend to think Restaurant Hostess.
This dress so mass reproduced in polyester and viscose and rayon, and favoured for decades by restaurant hostesses and nightclub girls, is a skin tight garment, closing to the side, and often slit to the thigh or even to the line of the underpants of the female who wears it.
It can be further cheapened with plastic or paper flowers stuck with bobby pins into the side of the woman's head.
It is fun, and it has a touristy look, showing up in cigarette and movie posters.
Yet in paintings of China the dress worn by most Chinese is the classic loose robes favoured by the Han Chinese revivalist movement. They wear their silk and embroidered robes now in certain areas of Beijing, acting though as they had never stopped, and correctly assert that if various ethnic groups all over China are doing this, why not them?
Of course, the argument on behalf of the cheong-sam that it makes the Chinese woman who wears it, look very attractive is nonsense.  Anyone who looks good in a skin tight dress with short cap sleeves would look good in a potato sack, or any other form of garment.
The sari as a national costume flatters a far greater variety of womanly figure shapes, and my own preference is for the true traditional clothes of China.
Thanks to all the regular readers, between 6000 - 10,000 a month.  Joe is helping with the editing and lots of computer info, though he is busy studying Business Accounting for his computer software company.
Arielle, frazzled, in Hong Kong.
May 17, 2006.

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Hong Kong * Mui Wo * Peng Chau Island
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