I know I’m a bit behind with my posts, but please just bear with me. I hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July. I have to admit that this year’s celebrations, although entertaining, just weren’t the same as being at home. I digress. This post is going to be pretty random, as I’m going to use it to throw out random facts that I’ve learned since arriving in China. Here goes!
Did you know…
- That there are over forty car manufacturers in China?
- That cars cost twice as much in China as they do in the U.S.? (Those car manufacturers are sticking together!)
- That the majority of Chinese households are made up of at least three generations?
- That it is usually the husband that moves in with his in-laws?
- That there is a one-child-per-family rule in China?
- That if a family is “caught” with more than one child they will be fined?
- That Shanghai has a different rule? It goes something like this: if you and your spouse were only children, you can have two children. If either of you had siblings, you can only have one child.
- That toddlers here wear what are called “crack pants”? These are regular pants that have been split open at the crotch. Why? So the little ones can use the restroom anytime, anyplace.
- That this year’s World Expo site here in Shanghai is home to the highest number of eco-friendly structures in one place ever?
- That just about all of these structures will be destroyed in October? So, so sad.
- That you have to pay to go to high school in China?
- That generally you can only rent (not own) property in China?
- That you can get up to a 99 year lease on your home?
Since I’ve been in China, I’ve grown accustomed to stares and requests for photos. It really doesn’t bother me. Overall, people have been fairly nice to me (save the older lady who tried to push me through the exit gate at the metro station). But the other day I experienced something that I’m pretty sure might be one of the most amazing acts of kindness I’ve ever experienced. Let me explain.
The metro is a pretty popular mode of transportation here in Shanghai, and there seems to be a general consensus that you enter the stations at your own risk. You have to fend for yourself when entering or exiting the train, finding a seat, and protecting your belongings. I have seen it all from little old ladies push and be pushed to middle aged men struggling to get through the doors of the train. I’ll put it this way: remember how intense the game musical chairs was when there was just one chair left? That’s what it’s like on the train. If someone gets up out of a seat on the train, people literally move like the wind to secure their seat and only the strong survive. Needless to say, it can be a very unpleasant experience.
So back to me (that’s what it’s all about anyway, right?). I entered the train and because there were no seats, I found some standing room and braced myself for what seemed like a normal ride on the train. Then it happened. The train stopped, a few people got off and a seat near where I was standing opened. There was a middle-aged Chinese man sitting next to the open seat and he literally shooed (and by shooed I mean took his hand and swatted at them) two other people away from the open seat and motioned for me to come sit next to him. I paused for a second to soak it all in and then sat next to the man who was wearing a genuinely warm smile that had spilled over into his eyes. After thanking him as I sat down, I couldn’t help but reflect on the kindness of this one man, one day on the train. Wow! Who knew that this small gesture would mean so much to me? Living in this “concrete jungle” for almost three months can cause you to lose some of your warmth in an attempt to survive (get it? jungle, survival of the fittest). This gentleman left me with the desire to “pay-it-forward” with at least one small act of kindness and reminded me that I have the power to create a wave of positive interactions that can ultimately lead to positive change. I challenge each of you to do the same.
Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!