Quiet streets, fireworks and sleepless nights

We are into the 5th day of the Spring Festival. The weather has been surprisingly warm which has made Spring seem a little closer. The streets near where we live are generally void of traffic – we had about 20 taxis to choose from when we went out to dinner the other night – usually we struggle to find one.

However, the fireworks are NOT quiet – there are intermittent explosions throughout the day, and then a few more spectacular displays in the evenings, reaching a crescendo at about midnight, then carrying on for a few more hours until around 2.30 in the morning, only to start again at about 5.30!

They are fun to watch, but after a while the noise tends to drown out the favourable impressions – our Western ears are clearly not in tune with these celebratory sounds! In our apartment complex, the fireworks have been “confined” to an area outside the main entrance – which our apartment overlooks. We also benefit from the display as set off by the complex directly across the Suzhou Creek and sundry other neighbourhood exhibitions. Everything echoes between the tall buildings, making it sound as if World War III has broken out right outside our windows!

Last night the fireworks were particularly exuberant – traditionally Day 5 (today) re-emphasises the need to welcome the god of wealth, and for some or other reason, it is very partial to lots of incredibly loud mortars and rockets and firecrackers. As a result, we are feeling somewhat sleep-deprived and feel entitled to additional days of holiday AFTER the Spring Festival is over!

There is a Chinese saying 入乡随俗- rúxiāngsuísú – the equivalent of ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do” – but what I would like to know is – do the Romans ever sleep? Or does this explain why the streets are so empty during the day….


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February 2011
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