China Diary

Day 157: Everyone says “Zaoshang Hao”

It’s very quiet right now. She is sleeping next to me, only her silent, deep breaths fill the air. Outside, the waves wash smoothly to the beach as the sun creeps slowly just below the horizon. The last four shooting days here in China are here, and funnily, the melancholia of leaving is starting to get me.

Since August, when I came over to China, I have been missing home so much, but at the same time, I’ve created – slowly, but surely – a bond with all the people in the film crew, ones who have been around me every day since we started to shoot, some even longer. And now, as the time grows near for me to depart here, and most likely never to see many of these people again, I’m starting to realize how much they’ve meant to me.

Every morning, walking to the set I greet everyone I meet before I reach the monitors. Of course, first person is David, who always waddles from the car with a happy smile on his face to hand me the callsheet and give me the Chinese good morning – zaoshang hao. Then, as I sit in the car, my driver whom I call mr. OK (because it’s the only thing he can say in English – Mika’s driver is called mr. Go, because that’s the only thing he can say in English – if they’d form a band together, it’d be called Ok Go!) who is the happiest, best driver I’ve ever met. He greets me with another zaoshang hao and usually adds the word which sounds like guomer – meaning ‘bro’.

At the studios, I greet as many crew members whose names I mostly don’t know, but am aware they work at either grip or camera department. They usually find it funny when a Westerner tries to say something in Chinese, and answer with their best knowledge of English. There’s usually Jonathan walking past, then Ma Kun from the casting with her big round glasses, and then I arrive to the monitors, where our DITs prepare the image.

Then, walking over to the set I see Mika somewhere working with Hao the gaffer on the lights – that’s a “hyvää huomenta” for him, and a zaoshang hao to Hao, and finally Lei with his white mask over his face comes around from somewhere, happy and joyful as always, greeting me with both “good morning” and “zaoshang hao” – and then, we’re ready to start the day’s work. Well, not before David hands me the big metal canister full of freshly brewed coffee, that is.

The morning greetings ritual is one of the things I will miss in the production. Of course, it’s going to be a huge change to suddenly not live off the callsheet anymore, to go back home and having to go to the convenience store, to wash my own clothes, to figure out my own travel, schedule, money, everything. But that’s all OK, since I’m back around my family. But meeting so many happy faces every morning, you don’t get that in Finland. Suddenly, the bubble I’ve been living in will be blown away, and I’m exposed to the normal world again, and that’s slightly scary, to be honest.



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