Sunday, November 28, 2010

Still in culture "shock"

Here is a perfect example of what happens every time there is an accident. A police officer shows up and watches those involved, their witnesses, and just interested on-lookers decide what to do. They can go to the station, look at video from the 10's of thousands of cameras strategically placed around the city, or someone with ultimately get paid off by the other and that'll be it. I've only seen a police car or motorcycle pull someone over and ask for ID twice since living here. They motor around with their lights on and blinking all day long, getting passed on the left with double yellow lines, cut off, but never honked at, even though honking is just a warning for others to let them know you're coming, are not going to stop, and to not do anything that would get you hurt or killed.

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This champion fir tree proudly illuminates our administrative offices until it gets dark at 5ish, 90 minutes after all day employees have gone home to enjoy the 65-70 degree weather. As we say when nothing seems to make sense, "That's China." Some international schools don't allow the word 'Christmas' to be spoken. Not here! We do it they way that we want!
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The scarves are just a seasonal assortment of what you'd see on the sidewalk near our grocery store. Other days it's hats, or toilet seat covers. There's always someone selling various mobile phone Sim card payment slips for the month, along with DVD's, books, jewelry etc.
Anne and I were both a bit surprised at the amount of tree that was cut down in order to keep the leaves from reaching the cement, as the temperatures begin to get colder.
There is always lots of dried fruit vendors, cooked potato and corn carts, and other perishable items that are exposed to the elements all day long.
Physically challenged boys/girls, men/women are common place out side of busy markets.
This vendor didn't want to take his picture with Anne, but you get the idea. I've never seen anyone actually buy any of these Cheeto look alikes.

Thought I'd just share how vibrant the streets are, and how the city's culture is lived there. Being a bit behind the U.S. in some categories, like health, have the culture very much exposed inside on the streets also. Tonight Anne and I were exhausted from a week of flu-like symptoms, sapped energy, stuffy noses, and coughing, so we went directly from the famous Shanghai Fabric Market, where we were outfitting ourselves for our staff Xmas/holiday party in a couple of weeks, to a good Chinese eatery right in front of our building. Once seated, we had the distinct pleasure of listening to 3 gents hack up phlem from the depths of their chests while sucking on local cigarettes. (Interestingly, we have only seen 3 women smoking in public since we've arrived! Lord knows we've seen hundreds of thousands of men smoking) The decibals are of no social concern; just like the openly extended sneezes and other personal solids and fluids shared by many. We were across the 3 foot aisle, sitting smartly in the no smoking section. I think the one with the encrusted tar on his teeth was disgusted and fascinated by the way we used chopstick, wore our sweat clothes, and our feeble attempts at his language. Lord knows we butcher it consistently on a daily basis.
Anne and I wanted to air out our lungs this a.m., so we were off to Starbucks. We got a late start, but after getting drinks we crossed a few new streets and ventured into new territory, again. Right when you think you've seen much of the city, it lets you know you have a lot more to see. Who would have thought that pigeon is just as popular to have freshly killed, drained, and de-feathered as chicken, before the lunch hour on a lazy Sunday morn! And why do restaurant owners heap pigs' ears and their chopped up appendages in medium sized plastic milk carriers and place them outside their bedroom windows to dry?
It is so easy to get up and explore in this town! We're looking for a day to set off and walk with one of our school secretaries that are fluent English speakers. We'll buy her lunch in the middle of our hundreds of questions being answered. So many "why" questions...I wonder if they have answers!

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