Saturday, September 20, 2008

Celebrity Privileges

Yesterday our airplane landed at the Xian airport, but we were not allowed to exit the airplane for quite a while. The pilot announced that it was because the immigration officials had not arrived yet. I found it rather hard to believe and could not remember ever hearing of such a thing before. But this being China, I guessed anything could happen.

When I looked out the window, I could see several people in uniforms crowding the landing outside the gangway linking the airplane to the terminal. They were craning their necks to stare at something near the door of the airplane. I thought to myself: was it because they had difficulties opening the door to the plane? If so, that would not be good. However, they seemed to be smiling - so it could not have been that bad.

Eventually we were let off, perhaps after 10 minutes. There was an unusual number of airport personnel along the way. That was also odd in itself, and doubly so since they did not seem to be doing anything important other than just standing there.

It was only after I got in the rental car that I found out what happened. All the commotion was because a certain Mr. J. Zhou (Chow), a singer from Hong Kong, was on our plane. We were held back to let him get off first. It was not helped by the fact that there was obviously no shortage of people gathering to gawk at him. Apparently he came to Xian to give a concert.

I have to admit I got a bit annoyed by the whole thing. Why should the whole plane-load of people be inconvenienced because of him? Why couldn’t he get off just like everybody else? Did he pay extra for the privilege?

On another trip this summer, upon arriving at Los Angeles, I think, our whole plane-load of people were held back to allow a sick woman to get off first. She had to squeeze through from the back of the plane to the front, with the help of a stewardess. Later she was seen in a wheelchair. In that case I had absolutely no complaint; just sympathy for the woman. But this Mr. Zhou? Give me a break, please!


Anonymous said...

Have you heard, "men are all equal but some are more equal than the others?" This is true everywhere especially in China and not to mention that people are above the law - there is no shortage of examples. But still I am a bit surprised by this instance - just a singer, right, not an officer / high ranking politican? Ann

StephenC said...

Yeah. I read of it first in Animal Farm (back in the days of JSSE and its aftermath). Except that he said "animals" rather than "men". George Orwell remains one of my favourite writers.