Friday, September 28, 2007


I guess i shouldn't be surprised that there's a difference between the first and third world. But everyday i see stuff that makes me question the infrastructure that everything here is built on.

People build stuff. Then a week passes. Then they rip it up, to build in all the stuff that was omitted the first time. Oops! Seriously, this happens all the time around here. They pave the road in front of the school. Then the sic crews of workers to rip out all the manhole covers and then repave the whole street. They build walls, paint them, then send in a crew with sledgehammers to bust down the wall, then send in another crew to build it up again, and then other people to paint it all pretty-like.

One part of the equation is that the labour and materials are so cheap pbly no one gives much of a crap about the costs. The other thing is that around here knowledge is power and information is valuable. If Ling has info that Liu doesn't then Ling can justify his employment. Information is not shared, and communication is often scant. This plays into the school bureaucracy daily, much to the disgruntlement of the foreign teacher squadron (FTS, for short).

But make no mistake about it, mistakes and all, shit gets done around here. There's no avoiding it when you can afford a small army to do your dirty work. For example, the speed of the final touches of construction on the school were def impressive. They had tons of workers on the job, swarming the building from 7am to 10pm or later. The school cafeteria has as many as THIRTY kitchen staff. And there's pbly 30+ custodial staff in a space which would only employ 2 in Canada.

Of course things get done, but not well. For example, the stairwell is apparently noone's cleaning jurisdiction hence it has fruit peels on the floor, mud smears on the wall, etc. And then you come out of the stairwell to see a woman scraping dust out the corners of the windowsill with a toothpick sized chisel, or people dusting nonexistent dust. Also, our school which was so impressively hurled into shiny existence, started falling apart in the first week of class. Like doors were literally falling off their hinges. Railings mysteriously falling off or disappearing. And you'd think that someone would get more cheap labour to fix it. But they don't.

And the tile patio has been tiled, cleaned, retiled, cleaned, taken apart, and retiled, and cleaned, and retiled... it's fucking weird. Not like the workers care. They're just taking orders from someone who took orders from someone etc. Hell, you gotta make your 35 cents however you can. Times are tight, mofo!

If this is the state of things, it could be fun to check out the state of BJ a year or 2 after the Olympics. (If you thought construction was going full force in Vancouver, you were mistaken).

No comments: