Fireworks everywhere

We get a flat tire on the highway and we stop to patch it up, when PEW PEW BOOOM, someone is shooting from behind the trees! First instinct – let’s hide; second instinct – let’s explore.

Is it a shooting range? No, it’s a funeral procession. People with gloomy faces and white ribbons wrapped around their arms are carrying wreaths, and the ones leading the procession carry an ornate box. Some boys are walking ahead and are lighting up, one by one, boxes with rockets that spring to the sky.

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I find it thuggish to fire crackers at a funeral, but the Chinese people have been using fireworks for thousands of years to mark any public event, be it a sad or a happy one. And there are lots of them, so you can almost always find someone who’s piercing the sky.

This is how I wake up in the morning. I open my eyes in an unfamiliar room; the windows are shaking from the explosions that sound like automatic rifle blasts or aerial strikes; I jump straight up on my feet, ready to run for cover. Someone is getting married. Again.