Now, let's check out the local grocery store. This particular one, Carrefour, is found in most countries throughout SE Asia. It's owned by French and set up for expats and others that are in need of western goods. Of course they have heavy Chinese influence and customers, so lots/most of the products are for the Chinese. We have chicken claws for $2, chickens with claws for #1/lb., cow hearts and tongues for cheap, and various unnamed parts to scoop and do what you want with etc. Then you have your shrimp. The cheap way to go, as it is with many items here-like with shrimp-is to scoop up the cooked or uncooked version in bulk and bring er on home. I sure miss the 2-3 lb. bag of cooked/no tail shrimp at Costco. The bagged/sealed schtuff here has an amazingly potent dead fish on the beach for 4 hr. smell to it. I microwave it for salad and nearly get myself removed from the premises for the sheer disgusting environment I've created. I must admit, it's not anything I've prepared in Kirkland. As you can also see, Anne prefers the street meat. This particular shot was taken on a 35 degree day outside a very popular ex-pat pedestrian walking mall where there's 25 or so international restaurants. I have the question as to why this happens in my "questions to Chinese" folder...I've found that it's futile to reason, infer, and/or use logic as a premise for any kind of explanation. This, is China.
This celebration has been going on for a couple of weeks now. These are good looks at eye level from our apartment during a party we had on Feb. 2nd. Funny, as I write, the same shots are going off just outside. It's been a blast--no pun intended. After the 2nd, people became much more reasonable with the times that they set off fireworks. I don't think it stopped on the 2nd. We were somewhat asleep at 3-5 a.m., but were never really sure. The amount of debris created was mind boggling-many fireworks are shot out of boxes, but notice that those are all gone after having been broken down. They get taken to a recycling center by city workers and workers get $ for it, and if you didn't see it early, the ayis had cleaned it up before 8 a.m. Remember, ayis are the apartment complex workers. There is an endless amount of worker bees on the streets. I truly believe that some of the cultural behaviors, like littering no matter where you are or what you're doing, is because everyone knows that there are people that are employed to take care of it.
Anne and I were walking today, as we do every Saturday and Sunday, to Starbucks, Carrefour, or wherever else we may need to go; like today we needed a Mac splitter, birthday presents for Joey, an iPhone charging speaker docking system for Anne's phone and computer in her classroom, so we went to the one stop shopping knock off mall-The Pearl Market (where we ran into Hailey and a few of her friends). Anyway, while walking, I noticed how effortlessly we could roll through the traffic because we had become "in-tuned" to the rhythm of the streets and city. No horns blaring at us as we crossed against the red lights, with the green as 5-10 cars were passing within touching distance of us on both sides, or when there were no lights and it was us and the cabbies finding the clear part of the street to cross on. It was totally comfortable, no jerky movements, just reasoned caution and insight. If we were in the Seattle area, people would have fists pounding on the front and back of cars, yelling, horns blaring, disgust, cries of inconsideration and unreasonable behavior. But no, all was done in the silence of the early mid morning dance. Around every corner, everyone is aware there could be someone selling freshly grilled corn or sweet potatoes, hats and long underwear, and/or CD's and DVD's, so the turns are wide, patience long, and lots of room for mopeds riding against the grain to pop up onto the sidewalk where they have 6 ft. x the entire block of sidewalk space to park.
We walk into Starbucks to split a raisin scone with cocoa and a mocha and never have to order anymore as the many shifts of employees all know our once complicated orders by heart, and all are happy to voice it out in English, while we reassure, compliment their efforts, and thank them in Shanghaiese. It really seems like home; one we're still figuring out, but a comfortable place to hang our hats and be part of the community. We get nothing but smiles, kind hearted people with cute, approachable kids, helpful guards at our complex, and lots of people that are a whole lot more like us than not. It brings to mind a quote I have on Skype--"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, & narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it solely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the earth all one's lifetime." -- Mark Twain This of course is not a comment on anyone we know, but more of an affirmation of our move, and hoping that we will have some lasting affect being God's ambassadors to China.