I called Katka straight after my class finished yesterday. We talked for five minutes until my credit rang out, an unsatisfying, disposable conversation that left me feeling both sad and relieved when it ended mid-sentence. There are so many things you can't express on the phone, no matter how hard you try. She felt so very far away. The only thing to do was to buy enough beer on the way home to get drunk on and spend the next few hours listening to loud music.
Later, just for a laugh, I turned on CCTV9 - China's Newspeak language answer to CNN or BBC World. The latest in their nightly reports extolling the new Qinghai to Tibet railway was a half hour panegyric to the environmental sensitivity of the construction workers. Since the railway opened on July 1st - when the "eyes of the world were all on Golmud" - 400,000 tourists have swamped Tibet. There's currently a three day queue for train tickets and a week-long wait to visit the Potala Palace (probably a bit longer if you're the Dalai Lama). Near one of the stations, a Tibetan businessman proudly showed off his gigantic new plasma screen TV and microwave. His wife stared blankly at the remote control and cooked butter tea on a stove heated by horse dung.
In other news, I learned the name of the company chosen as the official wine supplier to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the location of both the Milk Capital of China and the Kite Capital of the World. I'm still waiting to find out why elderly Chinese men think it's acceptable to walk around the streets in just underpants and flip-flops on balmy summer evenings, though. Maybe tomorrow.