Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The People of the People's Republic

In order to get to our local supermarket we have to walk out of our apartment building and 100m down our street. It is a street so small by Shanghai standards that it doesn't even have a name- technically it's a numbered lane coming off the next biggest street. It is a street so small that we tell all our friends that we live in a "quiet area". A street so small it would measure a maximum of only 150m from end to end.

And yet I just walked that trip to the supermarket to buy some things for dinner, and between our apartment building and the front door of the supermarket, at 6pm on this normal Wednesday evening, I saw a grand total of 98 people.

That figure does not include the people in the few cars that passed me, nor does it include the people I could glimpse through the trees of the park opposite us.

Those 98 people were just going home from work or school, getting their groceries or walking their dogs. And yes, it is a quiet afternoon, among the 20 million other inhabitants of Shanghai.

A friend of mine went to Australia after living in Shanghai for two years and had a panic attack in the middle of the street- she couldn't see anyone and thought something terrible had happened.

I honestly think that this will be one of the hardest things I will have to re-adjust to when we eventually leave China.


Phil said...

Well, you know, 98 people is still only 0.00049% of the Shanghai population... so really fairly quiet! :P

Gabby Girl said...

I often wonder what it will be like to go back home after living in China and seeing what I've seen. I guess I'll know sooner or later. Hopefully, I will be able to avoid any panic attacks. Don't want any of those.

Daniela said...

Last summer I tried for the first time Shanghai-Zambia countryside and was like going to the moon or a little more! You couldn't see a tree to the horizon, let alone one person! Ok, no trees here too..but there is so empty!!!

Eryn said...

Plus when others are there you have the overwhelming feeling of not being notices. I wanted to stand in the plza and shout "Why aren't you looking at me?? I'm Special!! LOOK AT MY SKIN!!!!"

Plus you have to start remembering not to make statements that your special because your skin isn't that crazy assed yellow colour.
(To all the asians on the net I think your skin is beautiful but insulting people in english when frustrated is just a lot less confrontational than using my 'bad chinese' vocabulary)

Foster said...

Trust me, you will have NO PROBLEM getting used to it. It passes quickly.