Friday, September 16, 2011

H&M: Hennes & Mao?

Recently when my friend Meike was in town we decided to go see Chairman Mao in his mausoleum. Mao Zedong is of course China's former fearless leader, the founding father of the People's Republic, and the person who led China during the fifties and sixties. Much to the surprise of many foreigners in China, Mao here is still very much revered by most Chinese.

Ironically, when we found out the mausoleum was closed for the day, we walked into the shopping street just behind it and I quickly found myself flashing my credit card at H&M. I thought it was kind of funny, to have these two things--a communist revolutionary and an international clothing store--so close to each other and so close to Tiananmen Square. If Mao had a grave, I am sure he would turn over.

Later the same week, we did go back to see Mao, when he was able to welcome us. While I can't share any pictures, I can attest to the fact that he is still there.

Chairman Mao's final resting place. The line to enter the mausoleum is incredibly long, but you are whisked through pretty quickly. Inside you can put down a flower (30 kuai, no bargaining), but there's no time to cry or dwell on the past. Before you know it, you are on your way out and walking towards H&M.

This is just such an incredibly common view on Beijing, but it never ceases to amuse me.


Defying communism.

In het nederlands: Twee weekjes terug was een Nederlandse vriendin uit Kameroen op bezoek en we gingen naar het mausoleum van Voorzitter Mao Zedong. Hij is nu al zo'n 35 jaar dood, maar je kan hem toch nog steeds bewonderen. Al denken wij misschien, "onkruid vergaat niet", de Voorzitter is in China nog steeds bijzonder geliefd en van heinde en verre komt men hem begroeten. De eerste keer dat we naar het mausoleum gingen was het dicht en kwamen we bij een winkel van Hennes & Mauritz uit, waar ik maar een lekkere oranje (alweer zeg je?) trui heb gekocht. Het communisme (Mao) en kapitalisme (H&M) ligt hier niet erg ver uit elkaar.

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