Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shanghai visit

 I tried to hook up to facebook in Shanghai to post my 'impressions' and found that all of google is blocked in China! The Chinese government had a huge fight with Google saying they had to block porn sites and all anti chinese government sites. They don't want a situation like Arab Spring. Google said no -- they are into freedom of information as that is what the internet is for-- China said fine and blocked all of google and facebook.  So all of Shanghai has been Shanghaied  by their own government. Don't get me started.

Yesterday in Shanghai  David,( number 2 son as they say in China-- actually number 2-3 son since he is a twin),  Michael, Number 1 husband and I go with a guide for a tour. He takes us to a place called Chinatown. How can there be a 'Chinatown' when we are in China?  It is full of shopping crap and tourists. So David says that we have to read the riot act to the guide and let him know that we want to see only things where there are Chinese people and the real things that Chinese people do. No tourist crap. 

David  is now living in Hong Kong and knows that not losing 'face' is the name of the game. He said we can't criticize the guide  because then he will just do whatever he wants and freeze us out with smiles. So David  goes through a long song and dance about how we are strange people and we like to see strange things that have to do with Chinese culture. He said do not take this personally because we are this way at home.  WE ARE JUST WEIRD. It works --the Open sesame.

First stop -- Marriage market in public park on a sunny Sunday. We are the only whites there. The people who are not looking for a spouse do not appear. Only the parents. The parents in China make all the decisions. The parents who come from far and wide  turn umbrellas upside down and sit on the long park walkway. On the umbrella is a picture of a son or daughter  and information about them. Other parents approach and then they barter. Do you own an apartment? Do you have an education, etc?. What are your savings? What is your son's height?  Height is crucial since many people are short and tall is a 'scarce resource' as our guide explained.  If your kid is foreign educated then a flag of that country flies over the umbrella. Totally fascinating.

 Then people approached us thinking that we were parading our son David, who is 6' 5" around the marriage mart. 

A gorgeous girl approached us saying she is an English teacher and wants to work on her English. After five minutes she asked about David and if he was available. I said, no. She never thought of asking him. It all goes through the parents. I said he had an unattached twin and she wanted to know if he was also tall.  After an hour we were swarmed. Michael, ( Husband #1) kept saying to each of them, 'I'm available'.  He was of course kidding but  the guide  had to stop him  because this was no laughing matter and he had to put a lid on it. 

Finally there was a circle around us asking questions, such as , "What if your son wanted to marry a girl you didn't approve of?" When I said that it would be none of my business there was a shocked sound that reverberated through out the park. Word spread and more people came up to us.

 We had a great time and I learned more about Chinese culture in an afternoon than any book could have taught me. The guide said he was shocked at how open people were with us and how inquisitive. He also had a great time.

There are not enough university positions, jobs and apartments for everyone so marriage is about securing these things. As one pretty girl said, "Love cannot enter into it." It is about survival and getting ahead. If you don't do it, there is no room in the society for you.  When I told her I married for love,  and my husband's mother forbade it and I'm glad I did it, she had a little tear that fell down her cheek.

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