The Matchbook Diaries

Early Summer in Shanghai June 13, 2024

Every evening we scoot to the rural edge of Shanghai and spend 40 minutes in the fields and villages before returning to the swanky suburb where we live in a ubiquitous Chinese high rise behind big walls and with a team of guards.  My son has lived his entire life in foreign compounds.

Here they planted the rice weeks ago, massive flocks of heron supervising-   now those fields are these magnificent mirrors to the sunsets.  They are massive and full of pale green baby rice spears.  The heron wade and fish there and there are a lot of frogs!

These are called “liberation” shoes. Workers on my street wade
into the sewers to work
barefoot rather than ruin
their slippers.

The entire city is eating watermelon from local farms.  Daily I pass more than 1 open truck, a farmer squatting on top of his watermelons.  Each melon  looks a bit like a mottled green piglet with a cute little curly green tail.

The days are quite rich and thick with heat and humidity now.  We will leave for South Africa soon and leave our pets to live with one of our guards whilst we are away.  It’ll be winter in Africa, and the beaches should be cold and abandoned -my favourite kind of beach.

One of the things I love about China is that the oldest generation does all the childcare and the middle one all the elder care.  So, in my compound there are dozens and dozens of grandmothers and grandfathers walking with little children.  There are an equal number of  middle aged people walking with very elderly people.  There are not child care nor elder care services here that I have ever seen.  Whole families live together, three generations at a time at least.  It’s one of the biggest differences between the US and China, the second being that the vast majority of commercial businesses here are small and individually owned.  You do not see massive corporate stores until you get to the mall.  But most groceries and drugs, many clothes, and most services are purchased at small stores.  These little shops thrive and are owned by a prosperous shopkeeper –  so there is a sense of satisfaction and ownership everywhere.