Zhengzhou has been under heavy attack for several days, apparently to chase out accumulated devils. These aren’t minor explosions, though I have been dodging small boys for a couple of weeks. The streets are cleared of the usual surging crowds and most shops were shuttered yesterday. Every rooftop and courtyard is smoking with cordite. The favourite seems to be a thing that is a metre long and about 2.5 cm in diameter. This ejects explosive devices at ten second intervals, and they travel for about 100 metres before shattering with a mighty boom. Basically, it is a mortar. Heaven knows what the casualty figures are. All the foreign devils except me have certainly been chased out of town.
China is the most religious country I’ve ever visited. The religion is called luck, and it’s control is at the bottom of major decisions. One of my students has just sent me this account of an important domestic god:
Chinese new year begins from today (23rd of the lunar month). Today is one of the important festivals , which is called “ji4 zao4″ . It said that the kitchen god will return to heaven tomorrow after spending a whole year in this world. He will tell what he has saw to the moster of the gods. But he says bad words mostly. We always eat a kind of special sugar stick covered with seasame seed because we believe it can stick the kichen god’s mouth.Thus he can’t speak bad words and we will live a good life next year. People in some other areas may put some hay and beans in the yard. They are for the kitchen god’s horse.They believe that if the horse is full, it will run faster, so the god of the kichen will be pleased. Thus he won’t speak bad words either.