Wednesday, February 29, 2012

20 years

My friend forwarded this pic to me, showing the astonishing growth and expansion of Shanghai in the past 2 decades.
I am barely a quarter of a century years old, and it seems like Shanghai has grown up as fast as I have.
But of course, let's keep in mind, this is Shanghai... and it's the only city like this in China., this is not the rest of China. Behind the glitzy high-rises, European sports cars, posh clubs, and overly saturated materialistic centered life-styles... lies the sacrifices that so many have shunned and ignored. I am by no means criticizing this beloved city, just merely reminding those who take Shanghai the way it is now... for granted. In the name of self-image and harmony, millions have lost their homes, jobs, and property all to make way for industrialization. It is more amazing that some do it "for the nation," which I have seen and heard first hand from my fellow peers in college. A perfect example is my first day in college where I hopped onto a taxi and gave the driver instructions to my new dorm... he said: "don't worry, I know exactly where it is." Keep in mind that my dorm is literally in the middle of nowhere, smack in the middle of my campus...
I asked: "how so? it was just built 2 years ago.."
he replied: "my house used to right where your dorm's front door is... I know where the dorm is, don't worry."
I was stunned, since I felt embarrassed that the taxi driver that seemed like he was scratching out a meager living since he most likely went through the cultural revolution, lost his home to make way for the dormitory for a bunch of college kids.
"I feel honored, my old shack has been replaced by the living quarters of this country's future, the future leaders of the world."
I kept my mouth shut, since he didn't realize that the dormitory is actually for foreign students such as myself, and it was actually a storage for hundreds of crates of beers, illegal cigarette cartons from across the border, fast food, and scandalous parties in the days to come... This country (China's) future? I don't think so... but it still amazed me that this person thought in such a way.
"I hope my son will one day be like you, asking me to drive him to this dorm where his father's house used to stand, and reside there because he passed the entrance exams for your college."
My gosh.. I've only landed in this country for less than 5 hours and I'm already feeling this burden to live up to expectations has a "Great Citizen of China." Of course, this wouldn't be my my encounter of this sort, but would be the last friendly encounters for the years to come.
Many people the world around criticize this city, calling it a facade and its a propaganda machine to cover the wrong doings of the government. Take note next time of where the people are from when they criticize; rarely are they from big cities like Manhattan or Tokyo.
But have to admit, it feels good to be out of a huge city like Shanghai. I love it there, but life gets too crazy.

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