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Floating in Beijing

Topical humor washes up on Weibo in the wake of the capital's freak rainstorm

07·23·2012

The torrential downpour in Beijing on Saturday, July 21 – reportedly the most severe in 61 years – transformed the capital and its suburbs into a world of rivers and lakes. Flooding, landslides and downed power lines killed at least 37 people.

Swarms of netizens on Weibo have once again called into question Beijing’s woefully inefficient drainage system, but this being Weibo, plenty have also taken the time to offer sarcastic commentary on the disastrous storms. Below, we help to process some of this pithy analysis.

世界上最浪漫的事,就是和心爱的人来北京看海,在地铁口看瀑布。
Shìjièshang zuì làngmàn de shì, jiùshì hé xīn’ài de rén lái Běijīng kàn hǎi, zài dìtiěkǒu kàn pùbù.
The most romantic thing in the world is to see the sea with your beloved in Beijing and to see the waterfall at the subway exit.

北京地铁站今晚都有一个共同的名字:积水潭。
Běijīng dìtiězhàn jīnwǎn dōu yǒu yígè gòngtóng de míngzi: Jīshuǐtán.
Beijing subway stations have a common name tonight: Jishuitan.
积水潭, literally meaning “accumulated water pool,” is the name of a station on Line 2. 

有车族们,知道为什么私家车要交“车船税”了吗?
Yǒuchēzúmen, zhīdào wèishénme sījiāchē yào jiāo “chēchuánshuì” le ma?
Car owners, now you know why private cars are charged a “vehicle and vessel tax.”

南水北调还是很有效果的。
Nánshuǐběidiào hái shì hěn yǒu xiàoguǒ de.
The project of diverting water from the south to the north (to solve northern China’s water resource shortage) has turned out to be effective.

今晚身在北京的人们都是北漂一族。
Jīnwǎn shēn zài Běijīng de rénmen dōu shì běipiāoyìzú.
Tonight, everyone in Beijing belongs to the “floating in Beijing” category.
北漂, beipiao, or “Beijing vagabond,” normally refers to the group of people who migrate to Beijing to seek a living. They do not have a Beijing hukou (permanent residency) or their own apartments, and they usually are not affluent.

在北京有钱有车有房都不算什么,关键你得有船。
Zài Běijīng yǒu qián yǒu chē yǒu fáng dōu búsuàn shénme, guānjiàn nǐ děi yǒu chuán.
It doesn’t matter that you have money, an apartment or a car in Beijing. The key is to have a boat.

谁说北京不是海滨城市?
Shéi shuō Běijīng búshì hǎibīn chéngshì?
Who dares to say that Beijing is not a coastal city?

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