This morning I sat at my desk full of glow, a rare Monday; the sun is shining on the 29th floor, my weekend was a good one, Melbourne and I have turned a corner. Happily obscured from view I swot up on the goings on in the motherland. Dramatic headlines, doom and gloom, the protests, the riots, cuts, no public toilets, libraries and lost funding for domestic violence centres, psychiatric counselling, halfway houses for the homeless, people in need, forgotten. The land I have come from appears to have regressed somewhat, cutting crucial support, the cogs that keep society functioning. Where was the tax on banks, the tax on bonuses, and cuts in senior government? An internal tug of guilt washes over me, those left to struggle on in my absence, aging grandparents, aunties in the public sector - NHS and education, uncle whose job is now on the line, the effects are immediate, delivered from a far like a tomahawk heading to Libya.
I remain empathetic yet cheery as I head to (cinema) Nova for my regular Monday night date for one, a rewardingly comfortable arrangement. Last Train Home is a Chinese documentary centred around the mass migration of 200 million Chinese migrants - in most part of Chinese origin travelling back home to the (usually very) poor countryside in a distant province. I was engaged and humbled by the main plot which charts a family struggling to exist, grandmother raising her grandchildren, whilst the parents send money home. The characters clash under the pressure, with the parents vehemently expressing the life path of education upon there children. The daughter buckles and rebels. The scenes switch between factory, transport and countryside offering a unique, if somewhat bleak gaze into the life of the Chinese working classes. The documentary directed by Lixin Fan was filmed up until 2008 with the inclusion of the Chinese olympics. Comic relief is provided by the youngest member of the family the younger brother, whose witty remarks provide a much needed lightness. A poignant moment occurs on a sleeper train not dissimilar to one I have travelled on during my Chinese adventures. There are about five people cosied up on a bunk and they are discussing the financial practices of foreigners. I cast my mind back to how kind and inquisitive the Chinese were to me during my long train rides alone. The world is no longer a separate place we will are to become increasingly interconnected as global dependency evolves. It is important we see the different sides if not to agree then to understand and appreciate. This documentary certainly bought home questions as to the evolution/exploitation of China, and how far the country has yet to travel.