WARNING: long rambling post ahead.
unfortunately my visual editor doesn’t work on this proxy server, so i can’t do much about the formatting of my posts. i don’t care though; i’ll fix it all up when i get home. right now it’s good just to be able to write something.
i’m more than half way through my trip, and half a world away from home, sitting here in this big empty house, i realise how much i actually like my life. not that i don’t like it here; figuring out how i’m related to everyone is interesting, but i don’t think a day has passed where i have not thought about life back in sydney. it may not always be wondering what i’m missing out on, and it may not always be missing everything i left for a month, but the thoughts are always there.
so what exciting things have tried to keep me from missing the blue sky and above zero temperatures? shopping, eating, sleeping. that really doesn’t sound that much different to my sydney life.
as you know, i was in hong kong a while ago. i’ve already said that it was utterly amazing, but it’s more than that. hong kong was like a monopoly game where all the players got their monopolies and built massive hotels and skyscrapers everywhere. it has everything shanghai has, without the dirty people and the dirty streets.
don’t get me wrong, i love this place. i was born here, and i have a home here even though i only return once a year. but honestly, some parts of it are disgusting. the smokers are everywhere. clean air is basically anywhere without a smoker and a funky kind of smell. and the air here is not even clean. people smoke under no smoking signs and in all the restaurants and closed spaces and it’s impossible to get away from them. living here is like life expectancy minus ten. not that that’s a big deal for me.
even worse than the smoking, there’s the spitting. every time i see someone about to spit i fight the urge to gag. if i unfortunately happen to see them in the action of spitting, i ACTUALLY gag. i wonder if the tourism brochures offer a solution to that, because i can’t imagine anyone that comes from a clean environment being able to withstand this.
next is the people. one of my aunts recently refused to eat some sunflower seeds due to the place they were manufactured; xingjiang. the general concensus here is that people from that particular part of china are dirty thieves that travel in gangs and rob people on the streets. it really goes both ways though: people think they’re thieves and so they won’t hire them, or help them, leaving them nowhere to go but to steal. this in turn leads them to become the gangs that run after someone’s bicycle in order to snatch their bag, and then challenge you if you think you have something to say about it. it’s how they make a living, and they defend it too. my family, and the “real” shanghainese people, call these people disgusting creatures. they are outsiders: people who have moved to shanghai to take something that isn’t theirs to take.
i wonder if, some days, people are right about these crazy overpopulated asians that are going to control the world one day, but can’t even control their own citizens.
and i lead this back to capitalism. because these people are seeking wealth. it’s the only thing they think is worth seeking; it’s the only thing they want, and because of their lack of education, they’re doing anything they can do get it. with no one to teach you your morals and ethics, you can’t turn out to be compassionate or forgiving. or humane, whatever that’s supposed to mean. you turn out to be selfish, and you turn out to be a survivor.
so what does that make us, you and me? us, sitting here in front of our computers with our internet and proxy servers and technology and all the food that we care to eat. us, who have never felt the challenges that these other people have lived under their whole lives? are we fit to judge these “outsiders” like we would our own?
i’m torn. as much as i’m ashamed to admit it, i shudder at the sight and sound of these people. they pose a threat to what i have, whether it be my possessions or my life. yet i realise that i can’t see them as “wrong” while i see myself as “right” but they’re obviously not right, so who’s wrong?
the only answer i have is that the world is wrong.