Our time in China has nearly come to an end. We have spent the last month savoring the ‘last ofs’: the last meetings with friends (at least for the foreseeable future) that we’ve met over the past 2 years – including multiple play-dates for the kids , the last bowl of local wontons, a last visit here and there.
My sinophile friend Mel from Santa Barbara sent me an article, and having lived in Shanghai over the last two years I can totally relate to it’s description of China: “China is filled with too many contradictions. Whenever I walk down a Beijing (…Shanghai) alley, my mind flutters between thinking this country is about to regain its place atop world powers because of sheer scale—1.4 billion people, tens of millions more farmers about to move into cities—and believing the nation’s inequality, choking pollution and diplomatic insecurity might doom its rise” – Scott Cendrowski Fortune magazine April 2015. Only time will tell.
I’ve had a think about the things that I won’t miss when I leave Shanghai: people pushing versus queuing, constant construction and renovation (and the associated noises and smells), spitting in the street, smoking in public places, food scares, molasses-slow internet and blocked internet sites (and restricted freedom), firecrackers, being on constant alert whilst walking along the footpath or crossing the road (to avoid being run over by scooters, cars and bicycles), the noise of car horns blaring, having restaurant dishes served all at different times with the rice very often last (or forgotten completely…but not forgotten on the bill), living in a megacity with mega money-worship and mega consumerism and the embracing of many western things – perhaps without a great deal reflection or respect for traditions, and of course……. the big one……. pollution.
…..and as for the things that I think that I will miss…there are quite a few: relative safety from petty theft, the vast array of available green vegetables (albeit covered with pesticides), walking to and from school with kids, walking to work……actually walking most places!, regular Asian vacations, cheap haircuts and shoe repair, our driver Ben, working as a speech therapist in English with other therapists from around the world, children’s birthday parties where all the kids naturally sing happy birthday in 3 languages, people walking around the street in their pajamas, living relatively close to Australia with only a 2-hour time difference,
….the many food dishes especially the street food such as Liang pi – translucent noodles made from wheat (or rice) starch remaining from producing gluten – served in a sesame, chilli oil sauce. The wontons, Cold cucumber in garlic and vinegar and any chinese aubergine dish (they are all good). Thanks to my cooking classes I’ll be able to replicate a few of these elsewhere but might have a hard time finding some ingredients.
But the aspect that I will miss the most by far is the ease of meeting people…people from all the corners of the world. Quite often dynamic, creative, open-minded people.
When I started this blog it was “My intention to observe and be mindful of the the challenging moments that present themselves rather than be swept away by them.”
China has actually taught me to ‘let it go’ – (In a previous post ‘TIC’ -January 2014- I briefly described some of the challenging moments). There have been many occasions where I have experienced something or heard of something happening here that in many places in the world would be considered unacceptable to say the least, but which here they are explained with the phrase ‘This is China’ (TIC). For example, an original product suddenly finds it has at least one Chinese competitor on the market with an eerily similar name*; or your landlord decides to break your rental contract and threatens to cut-off your utilities if you don’t move (our personal experience), and I’m not going to elaborate about the ‘quality’ of home repair or the chronic delays in domestic airline travel.
Rather than get (too) overwhelmed, frustrated or irritated you just learn to go with the flow- TIC.
I’m sure there will be some potentially perplexing incidences in France and it is for this reason that I intend to keep writing on this blog….I’ll keep you posted.
I also have a new intention…. and that is to remember that “The past is not the future” – 7 years ago I found living in France quite difficult for a number of reasons….but that was then and this is NOW. I suspect that living in France as a parent might be a different experience.
‘Shanghighs‘: We have found a house in France and so have subsequently been able to stop looking for houses and really start the moving process: enroll the kids into a school, change addresses etc….
‘Shanglows‘: My mum (in Australia) has been in hospital for two weeks with kidney problems: the feeling of worry, sense of helplessness and all the other emotions that are associated with that have been pretty wearing. Thank goodness dad has been a real trooper. I look forward to seeing my family and friends in 2 weeks time (on a 3 week trip before going to France).
‘Shangunusuals‘:It’s not really unusual for this time of year, but it’s been raining solidly for the past 5 days.
* I wrote a little about fake products in a previous post Dec 2013 ‘Fakes, Focus and Flies’