Shanghai Radisson Century Park Pudong view, a set on Flickr.
From my childhood I had an image of China. Created from Pearl S Buck’s novels I had been reading since I was 11 years old, this image consisted of rural villages, people migrating from villages to Beijing or other cities. I enjoyed reading about the type of life the farmers led.
Perhaps travelling to Shanghai is not the way to discover this aspect of Chinese life. Perhaps I am too late to see this type of life. Certainly, Pudong in Shanghai certainly was the wrong place to find this life. Nevertheless, this was my first exposure to China – my first home in the country I had longed to visit for long.
After a non-adventurous ride into the town from the airport (after walking a few minutes in search of the taxi stand, after the excitement of seeing the first signs in Chinese from my taxi window as the car drove from the airport, in a taxi in which the driver was cordoned off, in a taxi whose driver ticked me off for entering from the “wrong” side), I checked into the hotel and ran to the floor to ceiling window of my room. I looked through the window to see the concrete jungle that would be my companion for the next few days. I wondered about the multitude of Chinese and expatriates living in all those apartments, going through their normal life while I tried to get used to managing in a country without knowing even a bit of the language. I looked out to see the “M”, Carrefour and “Ananas” from my window. I saw the Neon lights that gave a semblance of normalcy if it was not for the chinese letters. In between all these was a huge television showing table tennis matches of the Olmpics on one day, advertisements on another day and some speech on yet another day.
In the mornings, cars on the road showed the “busy”ness on the street. In the evenings, droves of people walking across the walkways showed me when the city winded off from the business life to their personal life – just when I had just reached the hotel room, switched on my laptop and connected to the internet.