Well, wasn’t that a sobering last post and attendant comments. I realize that my view of China from my comfortable perch at Starbucks, while it may be somewhat myopic and idyllic, is still MY view. Nevertheless, I too wish to offer some Harsh Realities of life in China.
Harsh Reality #1 – Back in 1973 (My God, 40 years ago) I worked for 6 weeks (Jan-Feb) in Toronto planting trees (long story, maybe some other time). It was a federal “Winter Works” program which required people to work rather than just sit at home and collect UI (or EI as they now oxymoronically (word ?) call it). Anyway, I think China has a similar program, but they haven’t quite figured out the details.
This was dug four weeks ago by five middle-aged (and I am being generous with the “middle” part) women. It now sits empty – except for the water and bits of rubbish it has collected over that time. Why was it dug? Perhaps the Harsh Reality is that it gave five women a project so that they would feel valued. Perhaps it will be filled in later on by Crew 2 of the Winter Works program.
Harsh Reality #2 – One can come down with a miserable, debilitating head cold in China, just as easily as one in Canada. However, there is a silver lining because in China one can go to the equivalent of Shopper’s Drug Store and get 15 Chuanxinlian Nasal Dripping Pills and 12 of some other kind of pill and feel much better after just three days – all for only 39 yuan ($6.50) – including dispensing fee! (Granted, there is no Extended Health Plan coverage in which to claim the $6.50 back, but that is Harsh Reality #2a).
Harsh Reality #3 – I have discovered a weight loss program which may very well revolutionize the entire world. In this program, you don’t have to exercise, so you don’t sweat and have to shower (good for the environment). Since you are not exercising, you don’t have to eat, so you cut down on your cost of living and save food for those who really need it. Finally, it is relatively stress free. I am calling this diet “The Sleeper’s Guide to Weight Loss”. Between the time I went to bed last night and this morning, I lost 1 kg (2.2 lbs). That’s right— it is sleep. Do nothing, just sleep and lose weight. Want to lose 10 lbs in a week? Just sleep for 5 days. Got a bet and have to lose 20 lbs? Stay abed for 10 days and you are home free. Unfortunately, the Harsh Reality is that the side effects (eg. irritable spouse, loss of job, bed sores) may hamper long term success for most people but for those who can get away with it….
Harsh.Reality #4 – It gets cold in Jaixing. This past week and a half or so has seen the transition from a pleasant fall (almost summer-like) to a cold winter. Here we have Terry examining some of the trendy quilted pajamas that are so popular both in the home and on the street as well as modelling the fur (faux) lined long underwear she purchased for wear both at home and work. Please note the rather fetching Pirate Slippers – available only at exclusive street vendors in Shanghai. (Ed note: It is not your eyes, the photographer was a little shaky).
Harsh Reality #5 – There is no central heating in China. Additionally, in our apartment all the windows are single paned. As a result we have purchased 2 portable electric heaters (as well as one the school bought) for our apartment. Each of the bedrooms have a air conditioning/heating unit in them, but the heat they generate doesn’t permeate the rest of the place. Each morning when the alarm goes at 6, I get up to turn on the hot water unit (it too is electric and only available on demand), the heaters and the overhead heat lamps in the bathroom so that it warm when Terry gets up 10 minutes later. None of this is the Harsh Reality however. In our bathroom we have a large – 4 ft x 4 ft single pane window beside the tub, which does little but keep the rain out. Now, at our increasing age, reflect on the frequency that one needs to use the facilities during the night and the temperature of the seat what one plops oneself down. This is Harsh Reality #5. (Ed note: Last night I figured out, that if one sits on ones hands for a few seconds and then removes them, the hands have absorbed the coolness of the seat.)
Harsh Reality #6 – I don’t look good in ANY hat. Enough said – except thanks to John Simpson for bringing this yak hat back from Nepal for me.
Harsh Reality #7 – This is an adjunct to #3 above and Scott, Mal and Gary not for your eyes. One of the side effects of going on a sleep induced , no wine during the week diet, is that come Friday night when you are allowed to imbibe, you don’t really want to and it doesn’t seem to taste as good as before. If that isn’t a Harsh Reality then I don’t know what is. (BTW, Gary how is that work out regimen coming?)