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The curious case of Beijing belly button

Source: China Daily  [2009-04-13 16:34:35]
This year's stop-start approach to China's heart-warming spring reminds me of a former bi-polar girlfriend who was as crazy as the recent fickle weather.

One day she was 30 degrees and ridiculously happy, and a few days later she was almost snowing sending chills down my spine. A week later her sunshine would burst out from behind dark clouds and temperatures would soar again.

I've been desperately waiting for the Middle Kingdom's weather to make up its mind and turn on the heat, and finally, at long last, I can positively guarantee, an end to the bitter cold.

One of the certain signs of seasonal change is beginning to bud before us.

The glorious bare bellies of Beijing are beginning to bloom and millions of belly buttons have come out of hibernation.

Summer forces T-shirts to rise all over China to expose some of the best bellies in the world.

They wobble and jiggle, in all shapes and sizes and I especially like the big, fat Buddha-style bellies, bouncing around, defiant and proud.

Unlike the fashion parades seen on many beachside cities, the Chinese summertime T-shirt show does not require full removal of the garment.

Only the shirtfronts are rolled up, and it's all about cooling the belly button, and chilling right out.

This is my third bare-belly season in China and each year I always raise my shirt to salute the belly boys of Beijing.

I've been in training over winter to get my belly in shape.

While some of my younger pals have been busy in the gym, crunching those abs, and buffing up for the ladies, I've been huffing down hot pots like there was no tomorrow.

The capital's 542,937 restaurants has made it easy for me. This town's tasty food has nurtured many a beautiful Beijing belly and mine is ready to come of age.

If you are new to China and have not experienced the stifling summer heat, then you soon will, and I bet you'll become a bare-belly believer like me.

I'm not a big fan of navel gazing. I'm a man of action rather than contemplation, but our belly buttons, according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), are a very important point on the body and are worthy of more attention.

The belly button is called the spirit tower gate and the heart and kidney energy cross at this strategic point.

TCM experts believe if your energy is strong and has good flow the belly button will stay in good shape, which is round and deep.

If your energy flow is weak and your belly button's shape becomes shallow and changes, it indicates a few health problems.

After checking out the state of your own belly button, you'll soon have the chance to witness many, many more.

My Chinese teacher says exposing the belly button is a cool way to cool down in summer and I have discovered the bare-belly cooling technique works best when I'm strolling down the busy streets.

The whole system functions the same way car radiator cools down the motor.

A wonderful breeze permeates my senses and my body temperature drops to ensure a more pleasant state of mind.

The bare-belly button belief system has its critics, who say exposing the torso in public is a barbaric practice and should be banned.

My colleague is upset when her husband harmlessly lifts his shirt in summer. She scolds him.

But like any good husband, he patiently wears her criticism, and when the coast is clear, rolls up his T-shirt and sets his belly free.


By Patrick Whiteley

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