18 August 2009

The Glory of Concrete

City bureaucrats who visit our area are scandalized. "There isn't enough concrete! These underprivileged country folks need more concrete!"

Any government inspector, untethered in Wang Tong, feels an almost primeval urge to "improve", the way that normal human beings feel the need for food or sex. It would be unthinkable, a confession of impotence, to return to their desk without at least one directive to concrete this slope, straighten that babbling brook, put guard rails where no guarding has been necessary since the earth's crust cooled.

So here they are, applying new concrete to the slope beneath house #1. The house sits on a ridge overlooking the entrance to the village, with a commanding view of the surroundings and sea, and has been vacant for, I believe, nearly twenty years. The locals say it's haunted. It still has an owner, and that owner was commanded by government to reinforce the slope.

It's fortunate that it's a private job, since they'll try to get away with the minimum work necessary. On government-owned hillsides, the bureaucrats get to decide what to do, and they always decide to carry out such projects to epic, Pharaonic proportions, laying on tens of tons of concrete where, for millennia, the roots of trees and shrubs held the earth in place with administrative edict only from God himself.

When the project is finished, maybe in two or three weeks, the civil servant will do the responsible thing and inspect his alteration of the earth and call it good, then return to the level of the angels on the 36th floor of some grey steel tower, lean back in his chair and shrug modestly at his own glory.

1 comment:

  1. I guess the owners of the concrete factories are actually really the ones who run this country - oh sorry SAR