Xu Rongxing was pulled out by Russian rescuers from the rubble of a building after more than five days on May 17. The retired Dujiangyan tourism bureau worker was weak and exhausted for sure, but she didn't talk about that.
Instead, the 61-year-old exclaimed: "Gosh, what a violent quake! Did it knock me out of my country?"
People of Sichuan province are known for their puckish, lively and humorous demeanor. But the fact that they have maintained it at the height of a tragedy like the earthquake speaks volumes of their character.
Their exemplary humor is now the talk of the Internet. Stories reflecting people's courage and optimism in the quake-hit areas are being posted and quickly spread over the Net.
Take Xue Xiao for instance. The teenage boy should have been crying after being pulled out of his collapsed school building, for he knew he could lose his right hand. Or, he could have asked for so many things. But what did he do? He asked for an iced cola.
Many of the stories of courage and humor coming out of quake, however, don't have a name or a face to them.
When the quake struck, one netizen was riding a bicycle on Chengdu's famed Tianfu Square, on which stands a giant Chairman Mao statue. "All of a sudden, I saw Chairman Mao waving at me. I was so scared that I nearly ran into a car. Only then did I realize it was an earthquake," he said.
Another man, rescued from debris after more than two days, asked a reporter whether his laptop had access to the Net. "Sure," the reporter said.
"Okay, help me check if my stocks have risen," the survivor said without even blinking an eyelid.
The quake has earned many names for Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu, incidentally one of the best cities to live in before the May 12 natural disaster.
Some people now call it a city that refuses to sleep without clothes on. Others say it's a city whose restrooms have bottled water and chocolates, and where people race through their bath and toilet. Still others say it's a place where every family keeps beer bottles upside down (to warn against aftershocks).
Not many people will have the sense of humor to give their own city such names, would they?
(China Daily June 4, 2008)