Gloves, balls, notes, computer, passport, HKID, money and chicken head. The head, opposed to the other stuff on the table, won’t be going to Hong Kong this weekend. It’s watching me as I try to pack, eat, write, work and prepare for Guitar Night. It’s in the small things, the differences.
People wonder what China is like.
It’s not easy to eat something while it watches you. No matter how dead it is. Apart from the chicken head they insist giving me when I buy chicken, the apartment could as well have been in Sweden. And so could the office. The language, the weather, the writing, … After a year and a half there is only small differences left, small things you wont do.
When people ask what it’s like they often have an idea that they want to confirm. Like that Chinese men are funny and short. Or that Chinese women love white guys. That they eat dog, that they are masterful martial artists, that they are shy, that they spit a lot, that they cant use knife and fork,… And I sure have a lot of stories to tell. All of them true, but they still say nothing about what China is like.
When people ask they already know what they want to think, what they learned in school, what they’ve been reading in newspapers. When I say that I live and work in china, a lot of people think its cool, brave and interesting. Much in the same way they react when I say that I was working in Tanzania. It’s like people keep the views on the world they got from their 6th grade teacher. And 10 years in China is 100 years in Sweden.
I dislike changing perspective, it is more comfortable to consider China to be far behind living with military parades, starving farmers, overcrowded cities, that women have no rights, that animals are being abused, that there is no freedom of speech. And throw in: “because of that horrible communism/capitalism” (insert your choice) after ranting.
Problem is I know I’m wrong.
Never have I seen so much luxury, poverty, people, life, high-rise buildings, entertainment, opportunities, fashion, food, consumption, modernity. This year Guangzhou is completing a new part of the city to hold 3 million residents, the 5th subway line covering 24 stations as well as a facial for the upcoming Asian Games. It’s a modern mega-city, which inhabitants could triple the population of Sweden, should they feel like doing a 10hour flight to go back 10 years in time.
Being a foreigner one of the most common questions you will get along with where you live, how much money you make, if piercing hurts, etc. Is obviously where you come from. A topic that’s often uncomfortably short, lost in misunderstandings and no-understandings.
After all, who cares about a country that’s only good at making watches, cheese and banks?
The Train takes about 1hr 30 to Hong Kong from Guangzhou and i spend the time struggling to wrap this post up. Soon it will take 10 hours with train from Hong Kong all the way north to Beijing. Completed 8 years ahead of schedule with a budget of over 3 Trillion RMB (slightly stronger than SEK) it will be the worlds fastest reaching top speeds at 400km/h.
Perhaps this post is not on the same scale of investment, but just like the speed train it just might save me some time some day. When you wonder what China is like I can simply just direct you here.