The Matchbook Diaries

Safety in China and Other Thoughts on Wednesday March 13, 2024 in Shanghai China

Me getting blessed by a Nepali holy man.

An enormous benefit to the style with which China is governed is the complete lack of crime.  You can walk around at 3am, alone, chatting on your cellphone with your purse and not have a care in the world.  I’m never out at 3am, but often if I am walking home alone in the dark I revel in how safe it is here in this respect.  In Qatar, where we lived for a few years, there is an even more pronounced feeling of safety, particularly if you are a woman.  In malls, and there are a myriad of those in Doha, you’ll often see a large rolling cart used to hold multiple purchases – kind of like a luggage cart.  Anyhow – on that cart will be purchases in shopping bags, a Chanel purse, a stack of cellphones – that sort of thing.  The owners of those items are still shopping, but they get tired to dragging it all around so they just leave a little pile in a part of the mall and treat it like home base until they have their driver fetch them and their purchases.

In Dar it was dangerous.  As expats you get alerts from the US State Department when there is considerable danger in your area.  That happened a LOT when we lived in Dar.  In Dar I have seen mob execution, twice – and it’s really very, very, very distressing.  I loved Dar, I loved Qatar.  I love China. I like feeling like I can trot around without a care but I got used to living in what the US State Department classified as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.  You adjust, that’s all.

One of the sweetest things about living in a Chinese compound, and I’ve done it now twice in two very large cities, is that the residents treat the entire campus as their private yards.  At night the men stroll around in their bathrobes and pajamas.  The women often are in matching pajamas in the morning, but normally don’t go around in bathrobes.  I do – when I walk our little dog.

My cousin Mark is a genius and got his smarty-pants-self educated at Brown and then, for his PhD, Berkeley, on, of course, German geo-politics.  Mark is one of my very closest friends.  He is quite educated about the various countries where I’ve lived, and accurately appraised about what goes on with those governments.  He’s always reading these, to me, absurdly esoteric articles about this world’s governments.  So, if I really need to know something, I ask him.  Mostly I don’t.  He often says, with great distress, that I am annoyingly apolitical to which I always reply, “Well, I’m an artist.”