Wyona and I were too tired to read our emails a couple of days ago. But we agreed we could listen if they were read to us as a bedtime story for us. Greg agreed to read. We listened. That worked. Last night, just as we were going to sleep we begged for more stories. With no book in hand, he free-lanced and asked if we knew what three ingredients make China so successful today.
Was it the opium balls, I guessed, since I had gone to the lecture on how the opium wars had nearly destroyed China. Greg, who had also been at that lecture, said he wasn’t thinking along that line, but he had three other things to share.
The Chinese dictator in the 1980’s who opened up the way for there to be a Chinese business class – that was one important event. Having a single party system in China, that helps to get a lot done. There is no opposition getting in the way of progress.
The third item making China successful is an inexhaustible supply of labour. Without hardly a pause between Greg’s last word in that sentence, and the beginning of the next sentence, Wyona seemed to be interrupting him. She was not for she said, would you believe Greg is already asleep.
No kidding, I said, waiting for Greg to pipe up. A long silence. You have got to be kidding!
“Yes,” said Wyona. “ I could tell he was dosing off when his words became slower and more carefully articulated. He is way under right now. Our laughing is not going to wake him up. I hope you can remember what he said for it is over now.”
I didn’t care if Greg goes to sleep in the middle of the bedtime stories. I learned three important things about China from him– more than I can remember from the volumes I was reading before I left on this trip.
Greg is a fantastic travelling companion. He can gives deeper, more academic lectures than the ones we hear on the boat. All he has to hear is a question asked and see an interested listener.
Greg? Why am I seeing so many shipping containers and no factories. This is going on for miles and miles. Maybe 20 minutes now.
Greg? Why are there so many road fly overs and round abouts and no vehicles using them -- no private vehicles on them, and no semi’s?
Greg? How did you know the exact spot on the street where the incident with the tank took place just before Tiananmen Square?
Greg? How do you know which line on the subway we should be taking? And how did you spot the entrance to the underground.
Greg? Why are the police stopping all of those kids at the bottom of the escalator and demanding to look at their passports?
Greg has an answer for everything. For the last question, he reminded me that Chinese people are not free to travel in their own country, as we are. They have documents that tell them where they can go and where they cannot go.