CHILDREN RIDING PARENT-CONTROLLED PURPLE ELEPHANTS A whole range of things have been adapted into Chinese culture; it is well known that the Chinese embrace change and development rapidly. Lactose is better assimilated by the younger generations, and so there are now some very tall men and women in China. [ + ]
CHILDREN RIDING PARENT-CONTROLLED PURPLE ELEPHANTS
A whole range of things have been adapted into Chinese culture; it is well known that the Chinese embrace change and development rapidly. Lactose is better assimilated by the younger generations, and so there are now some very tall men and women in China. But the Chinese are not only getting taller: it seems they are becoming wider, too. McDonald’s and KFC have been widely accepted and welcomed in China. Nowadays, China is reaching record-breaking levels of obesity: there are fat camps and fat-reduction hospitals where parents can send their only child to lose all those extra pounds. In ten years, China’s childhood obesity rate has doubled, with the greatest gains made in urban areas, owing to more Westernized dietary habits combined with more sedentary lifestyles, with more and more kids spending time in front of their computers and playing video games instead of going outside and getting some exercise. According to recent official figures in China (2012), more than 12% of the nation’s children are overweight, representing some 120 million individuals under the age of 18. This trend is partially due to a loss of neighbourliness and community spirit . Children have no brothers and sisters, and instead of living in an open environment such as the lilong where there are other children to play with, their typical living environment is an apartment on the 30th floor, with only Mum, Dad and/or Grandma and Grandad for company. As a result, parents take their children down to ground level – home of the shopping centre and the market place. Then, using a remote control, they set in motion the newly bought purple elephant, or giraffe, upon which the child is sitting comfortably, so that parents and children alike can happily eat their ice cream in peace.
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A SHANGHAINESE DAY 2 I imagine what my life would have been like if I had been a native Shanghainese grandmother… Like the others of my generation, we would all speak the same dialect, and take full advantage of our home, Shanghai. I get up at around 4.30 a.m., and meet known and unknown friends in order to exercise: tai chi fan, tai chi, dancing or a martial art. [ + ]
A SHANGHAINESE DAY 2
I imagine what my life would have been like if I had been a native Shanghainese grandmother… Like the others of my generation, we would all speak the same dialect, and take full advantage of our home, Shanghai. I get up at around 4.30 a.m., and meet known and unknown friends in order to exercise: tai chi fan, tai chi, dancing or a martial art. I could go to the park, to the street corner where the lilong and the high-rise compound meet, or to the deserted pedestrian promenade. An hour later, I tidy up my house, carefully say my prayers to my ancestors, with the help of incense that cleanses both the air and the energies in the house. Breakfast should be salty, as we lose lots of water at night. I wake up the only son of my only son, and help him to get ready for school. I go to the market and prepare lunch; and then I sit and talk to my neighbours about the latest news in the lilong – who has moved in, who has moved out, who has got married and who has died. After lunch, I’d better take a nap.
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FEELING SPECIAL 3 We started walking through the lanes, past the many shops. And then, at the junction between the compound and the lilong, a man took out a microphone and started singing. [ + ]
FEELING SPECIAL 3
We started walking through the lanes, past the many shops. And then, at the junction between the compound and the lilong, a man took out a microphone and started singing. Some people nearby started singing along, too, while others continued to play mah-jong or folded their arms and just listened. We decided to go to the park. It was a hard decision initially, as so many unexpected things were happening in the street and it seemed that even looking away for just a second would mean missing something amazing. I took him by the hand, and we entered the park. He didn’t have to wait long to experience more of Shanghai. There was a big group of Shanghainese people dancing in couples, and after a while my dad joined them. He was dancing with a woman to music he had never heard before. This became our ritual: we would sit down to eat and then go to the street corner or the park, and then sometimes someone would take my dad’s hand and offer him a folding chair, so that he could sit in the first row and hear that night’s singer more clearly. Othertimes, he would be distracted, and someone would ask him (us) to come back to their home, in one of the lilongs, so that they could explain to us the beauty of the wooden staircase, the spiritual and material value of it, and for how many generations it had served the family. We couldn’t speak Mandarin or Shanghainese, but that was never an issue. He became like Shanghai: sleepless. And when he had to leave Shanghai, he left behind a whole city that had become a home.
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INAUGURATION Happiness is not silent in Shanghai. When a boy is born, or when a happy couple gets married, or when a couple moves into the new home they have bought together , or when a shop opens its doors for the first time… all these events are good reasons to show one’s happiness to the entire neighbourhood and beyond. [ + ]
Happiness is not silent in Shanghai. When a boy is born, or when a happy couple gets married, or when a couple moves into the new home they have bought together , or when a shop opens its doors for the first time… all these events are good reasons to show one’s happiness to the entire neighbourhood and beyond. Rows of red firecrackers are set off, red ornaments adorn the street, and photographs galore are taken.
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