Every day living in Shenzhen it is inevitable I gain a new insight, reflection, or question into Chinese culture or myself. Enjoy these excerpts from my notebook:
o Friday, November 9, 8:52pm – For the first time, I chose to use chopsticks tonight over a fork when eating some leftovers at home. I’m becoming more Chinese by the day.
A MEAL FROM A LOCAL RESTAURANT. ONCE I DROPPED A DUMPLING WITH MY CHOPSTICKS AND A WAITER SUMMARILY BROUGHT ME A FORK. GIVE ME A BREAK, BUDDY!
o Thursday, November 7, 2:30pm – I have learned that what us Americans imagine as large cities are considered mere “towns” here. I asked a colleague today for suggestions about weekend trips to experience a quainter atmosphere. She suggested Suzhou, a “town full of beautiful ancient canals.” Suzhou’s urban population is four million; its metropolitan population ten million.
o Wednesday, November 6, 12:11pm – It’s looking like Obama has won. Nearly every Chinese person I spoke with hoped Barack Obama would be re-elected. Meanwhile, the Chinese “Party Congress” is meeting to choose new national leaders, as they do every ten years. Choices are made behind closed doors, with no reporters allowed, certain books selectively removed from bookstores, balloons banned lest they be released with protest messages, and Google services blocked. Hmm . . . I wonder how the Congress makes its choices.
COLLEAGUES CHRIS AND KATE DRESSED UP AS NERDS FOR SCHOOL ON HALLOWEEN.
o Wednesday, October 24, 9:05pm – Best values I have found so far:
• $.75 – 16-ounce water at a movie theater: Excuse me? Shouldn’t this be at least four dollars? It’s doubly refreshing when you can enjoy a drink at a theater that isn’t exorbitantly marked up.
• $12 - 1.5 hours massage: I go once a week with my boss where she and I have a casual meeting about work and life. Tips are not accepted.
• $5 – A full bouquet of flowers: Discovering that they are relatively cheap, I now buy flowers once every two weeks or so for my apartment. There are five flower shops in a row on my walk to and from work every day. As I pass I breathe in deeply. The air is cool, fragrant, and the birds are lively.
EACH FLOWER SHOP IS INDEPENDENTLY OWNED AND OPERATED. SOME ALSO SELL BIRDS, FISH, KITTENS, OR PUPPIES.
o Monday, October 22, 11:43am – Every K-12 Chinese student in public schools in the entire city wears the same uniform, by regulation: Navy blue sweatpants with a thick white stripe and matching jacket. Polo shirts for girls are white with a light blue collar. Polo shirts for boys are blue with a white collar. Having the entire student body uniformed is winning me over. It is equalizing and unifying in many ways. Personal style is more subtly expressed through accessories, shoes, or hairstyles.
COLLEAGUE JUSTIN DRESSED AS A STUDENT AMONGST STUDENTS AT OUR SCHOOL HALLOWEEN PARTY.
o Friday, October 19, 6:10pm –I have experienced more flag displaying and waving, and more singing of patriotic hymns and marches in just two months here than I do in two years in the US. And I thought Americans were so overtly nationalistic . . .
Well, maybe we are, in different ways. For now, I’m fine using chopsticks in place of a fork. Sometimes, it just makes more sense.
STUDENTS PERFORM VARIOUS NATIONAL HYMNS FOR A SINGING COMPETITION AT YUCAI HIGH SCHOOL IN EARLY OCTOBER. STUDENTS CHOSE THE SONGS, REHEARSED AND CONDUCTED THEIR OWN PERFORMANCES. THEY WERE JUDGED BY SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS.