First week in China – Impressions

After a good week in China, a few notes, in no particular order, and based of mere observation.
Before you read, you might want to keep in mind:
- that I was arriving fresh from India, where everything is… well, very Indian.
- that I spend my first days in Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou, all very rich places where people are well-off and educated – it’s probably not going to be true anymore for other parts if this big, big country. So in China…

It’s grey. Hardly a single spot of blue sky in  the whole first week, even on the sunny days. Always a haze. Of pollution, I have been told…

Grey Shanghai

It’s humid. There is a lot of water, everywhere, in form of channels and lakes and rivers and ponds. And it’s in the air, too. It makes everything look green. It was too be expected since they produce and eat so much rice but still… it’s a big change from the drought-struck landscapes in Maharati!

Water-way, Tongli

It’s clean. No garbage. Not that they don’t litter, I’ve seen people throwing stuff around, but they have more people whose job is to clean the streets and parks and everything.

It’s organised. They drive on the right, following the rules. One new rule is that it’s allowed to turn right at any time (and pedestrian beware, you don’t have the priority). No chaos. I’ve even waited at a traffic light to cross the street. And you could actually see that traffic light on the opposite side (in India you can’t because the cars/trucks/buses/autos/rickshaws/carts stop halfway through the crossing, right on the zebra  or even further on, blocking the view). And on the first day I’ve jumped at a truck’s honking, that’s how rare honking is.

Look at the neat files of car! How weird isn’t it? (Shanghai)

Shanghai metro has a bag scanner, like in Delhi, but luckily no body search.

They seem to be obsessed with toilets. There are toilets at every street corner and many signs pointing to it. Even maps, and I have proof! The good thing is, you don’t even have to pay.

This way to the toilets

Shanghai – is it really China? So international. So many brands. Hard to believe that China was not an open market, no so long ago…

The Chinese are pretty good at lighting things. Pagodas, high-rises, houses, restaurants, anything. It looks pretty in the night (but it’s not environment friendly).

The Suzhou skyline at night

The dogs are pets again.  They have beautifully thick hair and no skin diseases like most street dogs in India. But poodles my friend, when will you stop looking ridiculous? (it’s not your fault, I know).

I love the big fat gold fish in the ponds. And the statues of lions. And of tigers. They all look cool.

Mutant goldfish in a Chinese pond

Cool dragon in the Yuyuan garden in Shanghai

The Chinese are tired. They sleep a lot on the spot, sitting (the Indians were sleeping a lot too actually, but lying on the ground or in the auto or rickshaw or anywhere they could) – and I see them yawn all the time. I think if they could lie down they would but if it were allowed the whole country would be covered with sleeping Chinese people. So often on benches for example, you’ll see a sign telling you it’s not allowed to lie down.

There is such thing as international fashion, the one that’s not based on sarees and where it’s ok to show your legs. Lots of it. Here the skirts are short, very short. The boy’s jeans very tight, the hair dyed and cut in funny ways. It doesn’t always look good, but it’s often funny to look at. And to remember how people might be clad where I come from.

You see young couples holding hands. It’s cute! (and I’m not kidding, I have actually enjoyed those not-frowned-upon very discreet displays of affection)

Couple on the Bund in Shanghai

The Chinese look pretty relaxed. They like to have a good laugh. I see them  laugh a lot everywhere, mostly between themselves and sometimes at me, or with me in best cases. I enjoy it in any form though. Keep laughing my dear Chinese friends, keep laughing, it’s so nice to see!

Chinese laugh in the Jing’an temple in Shanghai

A lot of grand-parents are taking care of their grand-child.

The little often wear those funny split pants so you see cute little asses everywhere (but you might occasionally get sprayed with baby pee – I’m careful on that one). I haven’t yet dared to ask a photo of that :) .

And finally… they seem to have a delicious language. It doesn’t only look awesome and mysterious, it also says thing in a way you would never think of. It makes me smile every time. I can’t wait to learn more Chinese!

Poetic Chinese sign inviting the visitor to be civilized



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