Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu)

There was a dragon boat festival and I couldn’t pass the opportunity to not experience the festivities for the first time. As with a lot of holidays and traditions, there are stories behind them. According to the story, the holiday is to commemorate the scholar Qu Yuan who lived in the State of Chu. Just when the Qin State was planning to take over Chu, Qu Yuan advised on the military forces to protect Chu though his plans were opposed and he was exiled as a result. When the Chu was conquered by Qin, Qu Yuan committed suicide in the Miluo River. His suicide provoked mourners sailing the river to look for him, which the event led to the tradition of dragon boat racing. Nowadays, the dragon boat races consist of competitive teams rowing in dragon boats to the beating drums to reach the finish line.

In addition to racing, there were cultural shows and other activities such as making zongzi and kite flying.

Dragon Boat Racing

Although I didn’t get to participate in the racing myself, it was a cool sight. There were a lot of tents for the racing teams. The drummer drums in order to maintain morale of the whole team. A range of ages participated including a team consisted of only children.

Kite Flying

Historical Chinese Fashion (Hanfu and Qipao)

To be honest, the traditional Chinese fashion labeled from the Han and Tang dynasties according to the announcer were suited for cosplay instead of being fitted for authentic recreation from those time periods. The construction were not historically accurate and the materials for the Han dynasty were cheap. The hanfu labeled from the Tang was gorgeous regardless.

This would be hanfu from the Han dynasty. The bixi (cloth panel attached from the belt) is worn with a semi formal hanfu that is used for cultural events or meetings.

High waisted and chest high skirts became more popular in the Tang dynasty. The hanfu with the parallel collar has a pleated skirt instead of an outer layer at the sides.

Southeast Asian Fashion Show

It was very interesting to see the different cultural clothing from southeast Asia since compared to the east asian nations, it is rare to see some representation for southeast Asian nations.

Dance Performances

Moana joined for the Polynesian dances. Two songs from Moana were performed. Several children even got the opportunity to be on stage and joined the fun.

Vendors

Food was nothing special. There were some interesting activities such as making zongzi, dish traditionally consumed during the holiday, though majority of the activities seems to be aimed for children.

Dotting of the Eye Ceremony

Objective is to give the dragon life and pay homage for the festival.

 

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United Airlines: “If we cannot beat our competitors, we beat our customers”

For the past week, United Airlines has generated negative publicity regarding its treatment of a customer by forcibly removing him from the plane after the man (Dr. David Dao) has boarded due to “overbooking”. While customers have been booted off from their paid seats before as it is a common occurrence, none has resulted in an incident that has the whole world in shock and anger.

It was reported that the plane was at capacity since the only reason the United wanted to remove four passengers to make room for several of their staff. For a lawyer’s perspective, point one makes it clear that the law permitting the plane to allow passengers to deny boarding in event of oversell isn’t applicable as United  should have deny passengers from boarding beforehand instead of kicking people off the plane after they were seated and that the plane was NOT oversold.

The second point makes it clear that United violated a law since the failed to give priority to people with reserved confirmed seats. Even United employees and other carrier employees could be denied seating if they don’t have confirmed seating.

With the third point, the CEO, Oscar Munoz claimed that the Dao was belligerent and that did gave United the right to remove him from the plane. From the video, it would have been an acceptable reason except for the fact that the police initiated the violence and belligerence.

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To rub salt on the wound, the CEO’s initial apology avoided responsibility and ownership of the problem with words apologizing for “re-accomodating” the passenger even though Dao came out with concussion, a broken nose and lost two front teeth. As a result, United’s reputation plummeted even further. If the CEO apologized about the incident with full ownership of the problem and offer corrective actions, then the uproar would have been mitigated. It wasn’t until the consequences of stock dropping $950 million are dire enough to warrant a serious response from the CEO.

Additionally, a lot of dirt was dug up on Dr. Dao on his past concerning drugs and sex with patients to discredit him and justify their treatment of the man. While his past is less than clean and unsavory, his past is irrelevant to the situation at hand. Even if it was known beforehand about his past on the flight, it should still NOT be acceptable to bash his head and dragged him off like a rag doll. Furthermore, even if the doctor has engaged in some dark actions in the past, it doesn’t mean he is still the same man in the present.

Not only the news caused outrage in the USA, but also the incident made headlines around the world, especially in China. Many social media Chinese users raged upon hearing the news because they perceived racism factoring in the incident. Many claimed that his race was a factor on how he was treated on the plane due to common perceptions of the stereotype that Asians are meek and won’t fight back. While there is no concrete evidence supporting the racism angle, it is a possibility but is a speculative idea due to difficulty in proving subconscious thoughts and bias. Regardless, United will suffer heavy loss of revenues due to relying on Asian routes since many Chinese will boycott the carrier because of this incident.

The whole United fiasco is a lesson on effects of increasingly global world and access of information that can  impact public relations of a company in a significant way. It could be possible that United would be mentioned in future business textbooks.

Brazilian Carnival

The carnival is a major annual festival that marks the celebration prior to fasting season of Lent. We went to the carnival for the first time. The event was held at nighttime and continued past midnight. It was a huge party with performances, alcohol, dancing, and samba music. The atmosphere was very boisterous and flamboyant but very fun.

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Woman in butterfly costume

Consider the fact that this year’s theme was Mardis Gras and usual tradition of activities, the event was marketed towards adults. Abundance of alcoholic and flamboyantly, colorful dressed (or underdressed compared to average attire in day to day life) supports that notion. Some people expressed their creativity via handmade costumes.The presence of a woman in a brightly lit butterfly costume is a testament to that.

We arrived relatively early to avoid hunting for parking spots. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the beat of the drums until the inception of the parade. Unfortunately, standing on platforms didn’t afford us the best view of the performances but at least height is independent of audio quality.

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After the parade, several dancers performed with fast paced live samba music. I’ve noticed several dancers performed more than one dance at difference times, which was impressive  of how much skill and practice from a person was input into this for a night.

After performances by dancers, music was sung mainly by a single lady who led the stage with her powerful voice and energy. Several guests did had the opportunity to get on stage to dance along with the singer. We all danced to the music, especially those who participated in the Congo lines.

Other than alcohol, there were many options for food except for snacks such as pizza, chips, sandwiches, etc since the main point was to drink and dance just like in a wild party held by college students except the majority of the guests were from the older crowd. Overall, I had a great time despite introverted tendencies.

Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)

For the last week, I’ve celebrated Chinese New Year by going into festivals. I was so excited at what they had to offer since it was my first time. There was great food, live performances, and variety of activities that showcase Chinese culture.

Dim Sum – Chinese version of tapas

There were other dishes I ate in a Dim Sum restaurant but were not pictured due to my camera being full. I also ate shu mai, congee, soup dumplings, and some desert buns.

For the topic of food, it is customary to eat dumplings for Chinese New Year since  they symbolize good fortune as they resemble ingots (ancient Chinese currency).

Gift Shop

Vendors and main stage

The festival have many booths that appeals to both children and adults. Activities appealing to children include face painting, red envelopes while tea tasting, calligraphy, and fortune telling were pretty popular to adults. Surprisingly, the festival was more diverse than I thought with about 30 – 50 % people attending are Asians.

Red envelopes are commonly given to children during Chinese New Year. Red color symbolizes happiness and good fortune. Inside the envelopes would be money. Honesty, if I get free money, it would represent happiness and good fortune regardless whether it was delivered in a red envelope or not.

Traditional Han Chinese clothing (hanfu) and Manchurian clothing (Qipao) 

People were taking pictures with Chinese young adults dressed in traditional garb. Those on the right were wearing hanfu while those on the left were wearing a traditional qi pao. However, the man in the brown robes in the right picture is wearing a hanfu.

Lion dance

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Face Change Opera

Face change opera is a performance originated from Sichuan province. Performers wear brightly colored costumes and move to quick, dramatic music. They also wear vividly colored masks, typically depicting well known characters from the opera, which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand.

Chinese Dance