Each Monday I post a picture of a place I’ve been to or lived in, along with some reflections to go with it. This week it’s from Shanghai, China at the Friday Muslim Market. Until I can travel again and recuperate some old photos at my parents’ home, I’m basically using ones that are on my phone.
Oh China, what can I say about you? You’re vibrant and buzzing…yet the buzz comes with a slight undercurrent of danger and uncertainty. It’s like when you (or in this case my husband) try to play electrician, thinking you know what you do and oops! ouch! you get an electric shock because you unexpectedly crossed the wrong wires. That for me is Shanghai, China.
Sometimes you go off on holiday, and you make sure to have a stop at your favourite cafe or restaurant because when you return two weeks later, zai jian favourite cafe! Nothing but bricks covering up the entrance. And why? There’s no real rhyme or reason. Sometimes the landlord raises the rent over 50% from one day to the next because they see you doing well. Or the cafe owner didn’t bribe the right people. Or because the government said so (so many times I’ve seen good restaurants close because they didn’t “pass” health checks and well, there are PLENTY of questionable other restaurants that did. But this is probably in relation to the second reason as well).
I won’t go into politics here – we still have family and connections in China. This is about my observations when living there. And sometimes, when you see the roadside stall selling his lamb skewers shut down because it’s *his* coal for cooking that is contributing to the pollution problem, or this amazing Xinjiang restaurant that had been around for over a decade closed and their owners sent away, one can’t help but think how this can continue in 2020. And it makes you realise, how much do we take our freedoms for granted?
I’m now living in France and wow! How lucky are we (foreigners in general) that we can vent about what is going on in this country? How lucky are we that we can express disdain in an open forum over government regulations? How lucky are we that we can complain about the French people in general? How lucky are we that we can complain about injustices and even as a foreigner, can have security and laws on our side when we open a business?
So overall, it comes down to a matter of perspective. And that’s why I say for me, China is buzzing….buzzing with excitement and innovation and gastronomy and potential! But this buzz comes with a warning to not enjoy it too much.