Day Nine – Risking My Life for My Work

Posted on December 4, 2011


Nanning is a city full of surprises. Yesterday I learnt Nanning has a car racing club. It’s a bunch of young men with Ferraris who get together in their spare time and drive really really fast. Some readers maybe surprised to hear that there’s a bunch of people with Ferraris in Nanning, a third tier city in one of the poorest provinces in China. Despite the fact that an estimated 468 million people in China live on less that $2 a day, China is home to some 115 billionaires (second only to the USA) and 477,400 millionaires. There are a lot of very rich people in China.

I got called in to a work event on Saturday. The head of Pirelli’s office in Nanning, and member of the racing club, had somehow found out about Angel House and decided he wanted to donate some money and help us champion our cause. This week, Nanning is hosting the 4th Annual China-ASEAN Auto Expo (these millionaires and billionaires are nothing without the hottest set of pricey wheels, after all).  Mr Pirelli man decided to invite Angel House to their exhibit, and asked us to bring some of our kids, who would be sure to have a great day out. Pirelli’s exhibit featured a demo in which I learnt that their tyres  are really good for burning up in ridiculously dangerous car swerving stunts. There may well be an official word for this activity, my apologies for my ignorance.

Note the excellent safety barriers. Can’t see them? That’s because there aren’t any. The piles of tyres make a nice gesture to safety, but when a huge Ferrari swerves out of control and ploughs into the crowd at 180 kms an hour, I found myself wondering how much protection these tyres might provide.