Hooray, Hooray, It’s a holi holiday – if you were a gawking teenager in the 70s, you would have probably tapped your feet in rhythm to Boney M. If you are a toddler, teenager, 20,30,40,50 something or a laorenjia (old old man), in China, you would instead be singing Oh My God; it’s a holiday and run for cover !
This week is “National Holiday” in China. Oct 1 is the National Day in China – some 61 years ago Mao Zedong declared the People’s Republic as formed. Never mind that China was “founded” long long ago in the mists of time – Chinese history begins with whenever the current ruling dynasty started – that’s the way it has been for all those centuries.
This is not a post on Chinese history. Instead it is a rant against the crazy Chinese concept of National Holidays. This whole week , a full seven days, is a holiday. All offices are shut. Banks are shut. You cannot transfer money from one bank to another. You can do nothing, especially if it involves the government. And since everything in China involves the government – virtually every company of note is government owned – it basically means you can do nothing.
Correction. You can actually do a lot. Go out that is. Some 1.2 billion Chinese do exactly that. Roads are clogged. You can’t get a ticket on a train or a bus or a plane. In every shopping mall, you can only stand on one foot ; there’s no space for the other foot – the only place you can put that is in your mouth ! This is also the time of the year when China is blessed with fairly decent weather. All the more reason why everybody is out. If Indians think they know all about crowds, they haven’t seen China – only Churchgate station at 8.52 AM can even come close to the National Holiday chaos here.
Heroic stories are reported of how police, volunteers, whoever have made huge sacrifices to be at duty and control the crowds. There will be the inevitable snippet of some idiot, who defied laws of physics to be wherever he had to be at during the holiday. And the tragic epic of another who couldn’t be where he had to be.
To compound matters, the Chinese now have at least three National Holidays. Spring festival, which comes in Feb, May Day week and now this first week of October. The madness is repeated for a week each time. Just a few years ago, the holiday would just be a day or two. But the trend recently has been to make people work on preceding and succeeding weekends and then give a full 7 days off.
This all looks a bit too much like the French in August. There are a million things that are great and glorious about France but holidays is not one of them. Why did the Chinese have to ape the French in this holiday madness.
So here’s a message to my Chinese friends. You guys actually work very hard. For all that hard work, you certainly deserve a holiday. Or two, Or even three. But please, oh please, not all of you at the same time !