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4 The county not on a map
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Build it and They'll Come

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The Bird's Nest stadium on January 1st 2008

The "Bird's Nest" and "Water Cube" were certainly attracting a good crowd.  Dozens of cars were parked on the hard shoulder of the three lane highway, and perhaps fifty people were taking photographs of the stadia and of each other standing in front of them.  One woman looked as if she had just come from a nightclub: her bare midriff looking decidedly out of place as she bravely smiled at her friend as he encouraged her to say "qiezi" [aubergine], which results in a similar expression to "cheese".

 

  A group of young men, who were from the west of Beijing, were asked why they had come here when it was so cold and windy:  “It’s the first day of the New Year,” said one.  “Our Year!” shouted another...


  “We wanted to see the Bird’s Nest on this special day!”


  Despite the busy road, and despite the dangerously high chill factor, everyone there was revelling in a kind of party spirit.  But what do the people building the Bird's Nest think about it?  Do they share the same enthusiasm as the excited onlookers?

 

  Today may be a national holiday, but it’s a day like any other for the thousands of workers building the structure.  The foreman of one of the gangs of workers, Mr Zhu (the name of a famous poet, he says) was in a jolly mood.  


  “Hello,” he said, “have you come to look at what we’ve built.”  


  I congratulated him on his workmanship and asked him some more questions:         

 

  “We’re all from Baoding in Hebei province.  There are sixty of us here; the oldest is Mr Zheng over there, he’s 48; and this is ‘Wang', he’s only 22. 


  “We’ve been working on this for a year and will finish in May.”


  I asked him what he planned to do after that:


  “Go home for a rest!” he said laughing.


  “We don’t know what we will do next, but I’m sure something will come up. It always does.”


  “What about the Olympics,” I asked, “Will you be able to come back and watch it?”


  “My boss will give me 6 tickets to dish out to my best workers.  So, yes, I and they will come back for a day or two.”


  “Who do you think will win the most gold medals?” was perhaps a silly question, but I asked it anyway.


  “China, of course!”


  At this he led his team in a chorus of “Zhongguo dui, jia you!”  ["Come on, China!"]    

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