Remember when I said I had “an idea” about China and the progression it is making? Turns out I was right about the idea, but I still have only the slightest clue about what is happening in our midst. As the pictures below depict, urbanization is proceeding within our city of 8 million. Don’t worry, that’s small for cities here. Mind you, as you are reading this, the state of Indiana alone has 6.5 million. That’s right, just take out the hills, corn, and beans and put everyone in the quarters of say… Indianapolis. That sounds sufficient for the shoulder-to-shoulder contact happening daily outside of our living quarters. At times, it’s a blessing to be an extrovert.
It seems to be the future possible humiliations and my personality, or the fact that I have lost so much Chinese in the last year, that I have been asking Father to give me courage to chat with more nationals than I did previously. Well, don’t you have to talk to nationals there? No, I don’t have to if I don’t want to. In fact, pointing, Chinglish, and other non-verbals could work just fine. But it’s in the little moments that I am taking advantage of joyfully speaking Chinese with nationals, acquiring more vocabulary and growing as a person. A couple examples: 1) I see a young woman with a baby, ask how old the baby is & if it’s hers, and tell her the baby is cute. Then smile. 2) I ride a taxi (only occasionally because of the price), inquire about his family & work life, and we grind out our mutual understandings about each other’s cultures.
I have come to the conclusion within the first week of being here that if I assume, that’s all my beliefs will be based on, and I shall have no true idea of how the nationals or expats may ponder in China. The intention is to get to know the people, where they come from, and where they are going (whether it be literally or within their dreams). With so many quality discussions so far, I intend to probe further with more penetrating questions into the Chinese mind and heart. I want to speak with the bus driver, the child walking along the road alone, and even the construction worker on his break. Sure, the accents may throw me off initially, but that shouldn’t stop me. Heck, I’ll just be using my phone’s dictionary a lot more, but it will be worth it. It is through this explanation that hopefully you as the reader may understand why so many random topics might be brought up here. Thus…
(The two photos above show the construction, aka “the future,” down the road from us. The one below, aka “the past,” is located just across the road from the future.)
I asked a couple local friends about the present construction (see above). One, a driver for our school, spoke about how it is bad, and it makes the traveling harder or longer if a different route is taken. Another friend, a co-worker, kept mentioning how it is bad for the air. Granted, he has a 5-year-old boy, and the pollution is worse due to construction and a subway being installed. He then himself approached the topic of smoking in China. He talked about how the air pollution is so bad that it’s equivalent to such-a-number of cigarettes. The number was then presented in ratio to additional Chinese cities, but thankfully our city didn’t turn out to be the worst. Therefore, what’s wrong with smoking a few cigarettes a day? My friend doesn’t smoke, but he explained the Chinese logic. And no worries, it’s not because of this logic (or any other for that matter) that I intend to start smoking, but I will keep seeking to understand others.