The Matchbook Diaries

Monday, May 6th, 2024 Shanghai, China

It has been a glorious month of overblown roses and piles of jasmine here in Shanghai.  I get giddy amid that much beauty.  The most gorgeous thing I saw all month, well, there were so many things, but a few days ago Pinck and I were walking out of the compound in our neighborhood and there was the normal end-of-shift swarm of dusty, thin, Chinese workers on the sidewalk walking.

They are all men, walking home smoking, still in yellow hard hats, from the huge, huge construction sites heading one street over to their miserable worker housing which is behind Pinck’s school.  They don’t seem unhappy, just chatty and unquestioning, but, my God.

Anyhow I think they are all so beautiful and I respect that they love their children enough to do such work so far from their home villages.   Anyhow – there are these government bikes here that anyone can rent for 1 quai, or about 20 cents.  The bikes are lined up on all the streets. You use it then you leave it and the government reorganizes and maintains the bikes.

One of those workers had rented one.  And there he was peddling home happily from the job site, not walking like the rest, and he was so thin and in his hard hat and cheap clothes, the ubiquitous Chinese cigarette clamped in his teeth.  And on the front of his rented bicycle was a tiny, even skinnier man in a hard hat, the man was sitting, grinning, on the basket and his friend was peddling them both home, peering over the shoulder of his rider to do so.  They were beautiful.