Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thoughts on Shanghai...

      I think it'll take about a full year until we really feel like we have this Shanghai thing down.  Right now the weather is really cold, and we are so not used to it!  It may actually snow on Sunday morning.  This week it has been rainy - not heavy, but constant.  And when it's not raining, it's still very cold.  It will rain and be gloomy for the next few months, with January and February being the coldest months of the year.
      Our floor heater is working now, and it is very hot!  The heater gauge for each room goes from zero to 35, and I keep it under 10.  Sometimes the room so warm, that I have to open a window.  I've heard from people that if you keep the downstairs heat on, you may not have to turn on the upstairs.  That is what we are trying right now.  But it is nice to have warm floors in the bathrooms when we wake up in the morning - very toasty!
      We had some trees and hedges trimmed in our small back yard.  A gardener came first with a pair of hand clippers and hedge trimmers.  I told him that there was also a large tree in the back yard that was dead, and asked if he could remove it.  This lead to a conference of sorts.  He didn't really understand what I was asking, in my beginning Mandarin, so we had to call Marie.  Marie is our "butler", basically a person who works here with the Seasons Villas Property Management that is assigned to help me.  She is great and speaks very good English.  She had the head landscaper come out, and he agreed the tree was dead and authorized it's removal.
       Suddenly, 4 men showed-up to take care of business.  They brought a very rickety old ladder - looked like it was made by twining together boards and slats, and a bicycle with a flat trailer hooked to the rear.  They cut the tree branches from up on the ladder, but removed the tree trunk with a small hand-held saw.  The rake they used to clear the leaves looked like it had been handed down several generations.  It was held together with wrapped coat hangers.  So these men worked very, very hard and very, very quickly with poor tools and bare hands.
      This is such an example of China.  The people don't make their own decisions, they don't go outside the box and they do what they are told, but nothing more.  Maybe this is due to generations of following the status quo, and the population is not encouraged to take risks.  But once a job is assigned, they work harder, and faster than anyone else.  And there is no complaining, just perseverance.
      It's easy to admire the simple lives a lot of people have, until you realize they are stuck in poverty.  They live better than the previous generation, so they are proud and feel blessed.  Their children, the next generation of young Chinese are really the ones that will impact the world.  They are modern and educated and driven.  But they are still very close to their families, and very connected to their towns and villages.

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