what cultural difference
While I wait for Sean this evening I’m looking across at a bright and shiny Marks and Spencer where they have all sorts of scones and tea and western treats for sale. With unlimited funds you could live in this city almost, virtually the same way you live in your Western home. (Except maybe no Trader Joe’s.) There are many notches between westerner and easterner, foreigner and local and migrant, on the lifestyle belt of this city. I wonder sometimes at the things I notice—am I noting a difference between China and US? Ginormous urban setting and laid back Midwestern urban setting? I’ve never seen a woman in three types of leather clothing, patterned lace hose and five inch heals shopping at IKEA before last week. Is the wide range of fashion on the street because this is a big city, because wealth has come quickly and relatively recently to China, because tastes are still being sorted out, because the city has long been open to many influences? Or is it because there aren’t five months of snow and layers of wooly, fleeced clothing required? Or all of the above?
It’s easy to think you know what you are noticing, and just as easy to think you have no idea at all. When I first arrived, many of the Chinese folks I chatted with, who grew up here in Shanghai, said they’d never tried acupuncture. “Needles–scary!” they said. I hadn’t noticed any herbal pharmacies at that point either. So to the next man I chatted with I said, “I don’t see many herbal pharmacies in Shanghai, are they not common?” He made me explain myself. He paused. Then he said, “I think you need to walk down more streets.”