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Lesson19

                   Is it Good to Live in a Large Modern City?

                                         Text

                    I Hate to Live in a Large Modern City

    "Avoid the rush-hour" must be the slogan of large cities the world over. If it is, it's a slogan no one takes the least notice of. Twice a day, with predictable regularity, the pot boils over. Wherever you look it's people, people, people. The trains which leave or arrive every few minutes are packed: an endless procession of human sardine tins. The streets are so crowded, there is hardly room to move on the pavements. The queues for buses reach staggering proportions. It takes ages for a bus to get to you because the traffic on the roads has virtually come to a standstill.

Even when a bus does at last arrive, it's so f ull, it can ' t take any more passengers. This whole crazy system of commuting stretches man's resources to the utmost. The smallest unforeseen event can bring about conditions of utter chaos. A powercut, for instance, an exceptionally heavy snowfall or a minor derailment must always make city-dwellers realize how precarious the balance is. The extraordinary thing is not that people put up with these conditions, but that they actually choose them in preference to anything else.


   Large modern cities are xoo big to control.They impose their own living conditions on the people who inhabit them CIty-dwellers are obliged by their environment to adopt a wholly unnatural way of life. They Iose touch witla the land and rhythm of nature. It is possible to live such an airconditioned existence in a large city that you are barely conscious of the seasons. A few flowers in a public park (if you have the time to visit it) may remind you that it is spring or summer. A few leaves clinging to the pavement may remind you that it is autumn. Beyond that, what is going on in nature seems totally irrelevant. All the simple, good things of life like sunshine and fresh air are at a premium. Tall buildings hlot out the sun. Traffic fumes pollute the atmosphere. Even the distinction between day and night is lost. The flow of traffic goes on unceasingly and the noise never stops.


    The funny thing about it all is that you pay dearly for the "privilege" of living in a city. The demand for accommodation is so great that it is often impossible for ordinary people to buy a house of their own. Exorbitant rents must be paid for tiny flats which even country hens would disdain to live in. Accommodation apart, the cost of living is very high. Just about everything you buy is likely to be more expensive than it would be in the country.


    In addition. to all this, city-dwellers live under constant threat. The crime rate in most cities is very high. Houses are burgled with alarming frequency. Cities breed crime and violence and are full of places you would be afraid to visit at night. If you think about it, they are not really fit to live in at all. Can anyone really doubt that the country is what man was born for and where he truly belongs?


II. Read
    Read the following passages. Underline the important viewpoints while reading.

                                  1. Tokyo

    I don't live in Tokyo. I don't even know whether I would like to live there. I love it and hate it-it is one of those places that you can love and hate at the same time.
    The first "fact" about Tokyo, for me, is that there are too many people. I don't mean the fact that more than twelve million people live there. A number like 12,000,000 doesn't mean anything to me.


   In Tokyo there are always too many people in the places where I want to be. That is the important fact for me. Of course there are too many cars. The Japanese drive very fast when they can, but in Tokyo they often spend a long time in traffic jams. Tokyo is not different from London, Paris and New York in.that. It is different .when-one wants to. walk.
    At certain times of the day there are a lot of people on foot in London's Oxford Street or near the big shops and stores in other great cities. But the streets near the Ginza in Tokyo always have a lot of people on foot, and sometimes it is really difficult to walk. People are very polite; there are just too many of them.


    The worst time to be in the street is at 11.30 at night. That is when the night-clubs are closing and everybody wants to go home. There are 35, 000 night-clubs in Tokyo, and you do not often see one that is empty. Between ll and 12 everybcdy is looking for a taxi. Usually the taxis are shared by four or five people who live in the same part of the city.


    During the day, people use the trains. Perhaps the first thing you notice in Tokyo is the number of trains. Most people travel to and from work by train, and there is a station at almost every street corner. Tokyo people buy six mi1lion train tickets every day. One station--Shinjuku-has two million passengers each day. At most stations, trains arrive every two or three minutes, but at certain hours there do not seem eo he enough trains. At 8 o,clock in the morning you can see students pushing passeng.ers into the trains. Usually the trains are nearly full when they arrive at the station, so the students have to push very hard. Sometimes the pushers are also pushed in by mistake, and they have to get out at the next station. Some people who are pushed into the train lose their shoes. They, too, get out at the next station, and go back to look for them.


    Although they are usually crowded, Japanese trains are very good. They always leave and arrive on time. On a I.ondon train you would see everybody reading a newspaper. In Tokyo trains everybody in a seat seems to be asleep. Some Japanese make a irain journey of two hours to go to work, so they do their sleeping on the train. But if a train journey lasis only five minutes, and if they have a seat, thcy will also go to sleep. They always wake when they arrive at their station.


    The last time I went to Tokyo, I went there from Osaka in great comfort. The blue-and-white trains which run evcrv?half-hour between the two cities are not only very fast but very comfortable. There are no pushers; only those who have reserved seats can travel on the train. It was not possible to run more trains on the old lines, so the Japanese built a special linc for the new fast trains. It is a very good line indeed. You can eat and drink without difficulty at 220 kilometres an hour-you know the speed because there is a speedometer inside the carriage.


    In Tokyo, I stood outside the station for five minutes. Three fireengines-the
very latest kind with every moclern fitting -raced past on the way to one of the many fires that Tokyo has every day. The peopie who passed on foot included some of the loveliest girls in the world in the latest European dresses or the finest Japanese kimonos. Businessmen passed in big new cars, and. among them, in a small Honda, there was a geisha in the clothes and hair arrangement of hundreds of years ago. Tokyo has so many surprises that none of them can really surprise me now. Instead, I am surprised at myself: I must go there next week on business, and I know that I shall hate the city and its twelve million people. But I feel like a man who is returning to his long-lost love.


                   2. What Kind of City Should Beijing Be?

    The C. P. C. Central Committee Secretariat has proposed that Beijing
should become:
    (1) a model in public security, social order and moral standards for the whole country and one of the best in the world;
    (2) a first-rate modern city with a fine environment, high standards of cleanliness and good sanitation;
    (3) the nation's most developed city in culture, science and technology, with the highest educational standard in the country; and
    (4) a city with a thriving economy, providing its residents wit.h stability
in life and all kinds of conveniences.


                        3. Duo Duo Bar, Where Many Meet

    A small coffee shop on Xidan Street, barely wider than a hallway, has become a haunt for many young people in downtown Beijing.
    The Duo Duo Coffee Bar has a charm of its own. Its red walls adorned with reed and bamboo hats and a spider web hanging from its dark ceiling remind one of the sunsets, perhaps at lakeside in a light drizzle. This is the atmosphere in which people sip a cup of coffee, tea or wine while chatting with their friends.
    Duo Duo (Chinese for many) is owned by two yotrng men, Zhang Keyu, a technician, and Lu Wei, an artist.


    "We started this coffee bar not only for making money," said Zhang, 27, in a soft voice. "We want to offer our young friends a place for social contact. If what we earn is enough for paying the tax, we are satisfied.
    "Before opening this bar, we often heId weekend parties at home in which we chatted, sang and danced. Then an idea occurred ta us to open a coffee shop so that we could know more people and more about the society.
    "Without wasting any time, Lu Wei and I took out all our savings to refurnish this room. Our friends did what they could to help us. Lu Wei did the decoration himseif, using a lot of reed, which is what his name means. Within a month, this mini-coffee room opened its door to the public."


    The atmosphere appealed mostly to young people. A university graduate, for instance, needed a place to hold a farewll party. The young owners offered the bar to him free of charge and suspended their business for the night. The young man invited 20 friends. And the party was a great success.
    "Making friends is more important than making money," Zhang observed. Being a full-time technician, Zhang has to work in his company by day and work in his coffee bar by night. He hires no employees. His friends volunteer to serve in this shop.
    A fashion designer whose nickname is also Duo Duo came in one day. "I'm glad my name is the same as this lovely bar's. I wish I had as many friends as it has,?she said.


    Pierre was a French student on a study tour in Beijing. He enjoyed himself in the bar so much that he could not heip dancing like Charlie Chaplain and blowing on the suona, a Chinese wind instrument.
    "Business has been good since the bar opened last year, but there were minor troubles when two or three rascals said they could not pay for their drinks. All we could do was ask them to write down their names on our credit list. Sometimes a rude fellow would drop in and talk too loudly. But the quiet atmosphere here would soon make him feel out of place and he would leave. I wish I could write a novel about society based on what I've seen and heard in this bar," Zhang said.
    It was already midnight. Xidan Street was asleep and empty. But the lights in Duo Duo still beckoned lonely walkers. Inside the room,customers were still chatting or humming.

 

                            4. Night Life Thrives

    in northern China people are asieep by midnight, but in Guangzhou most of the city's residents are still awake at that hour, living it up.
    Television and radio blast and blare away until two in the morning. Cinemas are multi-purpose. Besides showing films, they present video shows, dances and they have a bar.
    "I love the rich and coloarful night life in this southern city," a young Beijinger said when he came to Guangzhou for a business trip. "Sometimes when I come to the city, ,I visit the night bazaars.there."


    "I usually go shopping in the evening because I work during tbe day," a middle-aged woman said. "Furthermore, after supper,I like visiting the night bazaars. It's a.knid of entertainment."
    As most people in Guangzhou don't go to bed until far into the night, they usually eat a midnight snack. After shopping or leaving a concert, people often get a snack on the way home.
    "I would like to spend 5 yuan ( $1.35) to sit down and relax and eat something in the evening," Xiao Zheng, a taxi driver said. "Meanwhile, I might .spend another five yuan to have my car washed, ?he added.


    In Guangzhou, there are car washing services near some of the big bazaars which are popular with the drivers.
    A lot of Guangzhou residenis take a second job at night to earn extra money.
    College teachers have part-time jobs lecturing at night schools. Engineers
sometimes work on a project for another corporation. College students act as tutors.
    Problems also exist in the South China city.
    Prostitution is a bigger problem in Guangzhou than elsewhere in the country. And smuggling has increased recently.



                         5. Problem for Beijingers

    Improving public toilets has long been a .erious problem in Beijing, as well as the rest of China.
    There is a wry saying among Chinese people, "Follow the smell if vou want to find a toilet."
    "About 80 per cent of Beijing's public toilets fit the saying," admitted Xue Baoyi, an official from Beiiing Sanita tion Bureau in 1989.
    But at the we:tern gate of the chinese History Museum near Tian'anmen. Square, there is an unusual "luxury" toilet of ahout 300 square metrea, in wltich there are rockeries, fountains, fresh flowers, a sofa and piped music. The standard of cleanliness is extremely high.


    But visitors have to pay 0.3 yuan. Some say the clean toilet is worth the price, but others complain that they can not afford it.
    In Beijing there are now 40 such toilets at tourist sites.
    On the opposite side of the museum, by the southern gate of Zhongshan Park, is situated another fairly clean pay toilet. Since last March, Liu Zhaomin, a retired sanitation worker from the West City District Cleaning Team, and his wife have contracted to keep the facility clean, and the once dirty and foul-smelling toilet has become one of the cleanest in Beijing.


    The old couple charge 0.03 yuan per person, but disabled people and students are admitted free. Outside the toilet they also provide water and help people take care of their belongings-all for free.
    Their service not only earns the old couple about 800 yuan monthly, but it also saves the government money. The toilet fees pay for maintenance
    There are no public toitets in some areas of the city. About 200 WCs in downtown area have to have soil carried away manually, mostly by old workers who are near retirement, and it is now very difficult to recruit young people to do this job. Because of a shortage of manpower, tools and disinfectant, it's very hard to keep those public toilets clean.


    "WC service in Beijing has four key problems," said Xue. "There are no places and money for building public toilets. And most of them are in a very poor condition, and are badly managed."
    Xue also said that the users should take care of public toilets. Many newly-
painted walls in WCs are already dirty.

 

                         6. The Countryside in Spring

    We need never feel dull in the country. No matter how often we walk down the same road, over the same fields, or through the same woodland paths, there is always something new, somthing fresh to see.It may be a little plant that has come up since last we visited the place: a hedge that was just a lot of brown sticks may now be covered with flowers. We may find a bird's nest deep in a bush, and, if we are careful not to frighten the birds, as the days pass, see first the little eggs, and then the baby birds.


    We never know what we may see, or find, when we start out for a country walk. But we must learn to use our eyes, keep them wide open, or we shall pass by many a pretty or interesting plant, or miss the sight of some little wild animal, who sees us well enough, and will keep perfectly still and quiet so that we should not notice him, until we are quite out of sight. The wild children of the woods and fields are easily frightened, and if we want to get to know them, we must do as they do, and learn to be quiet and keep very still when watching them at work or play. All the year round, from the first warm breath of Spring till the last icy wind of Winter, we shall always find something to please and interest
us in the country.