As a regular occurence, several times throughout the day, the street cleaner drives through my neighborhood (which is also near my work), and as the streets are washed the driver has the song Jingle Bells blaring out over loud-speaker! Now mind you it has been over 32°C with humidity close to ninety percent and it is late third quarter of the year… Christmas is over four months away and this is an atheist country anyway! When I hear this happy, familiar tune, I smile and then giggle, sometimes outwardly, but mostly inside at the quirky, craziness of it all!
That’s how life is here in China, pleasantly quirky and crazy at the same time!
As I drive home down a wide, one-way boulevard, there is construction of high-rise apartments on either side as the city prepares for exponential growth in the next few years. Automobiles must travel one directions, though the e-bikers and pedestrians are walking willy-nilly either direction and often times in the middle of the street. There are also a myriad of restaurants and markets, and retailers. One market owner places a loud-speaker on a chair on the very wide sidewalk and passersby can hear him calling out prices on produce and other such sundry items he has in his market. This market is always packed,too, by the way!
Amid the hustle and bustle on the street are many city dwellers walking their dogs! There are so many pets here in my city, I am wowed! It’s akin to my beloved San Francisco where all the city dwellers have pets and there’s a pet park within every four block area or so. I don’t know enough of the ZZ city to know if there are dog parks here, but I’m anxious to know! It is clearly evident that these people love their pets, and I see dogs of all types, big small, Golden Retrievers, Standard and small Poodles, Bichon, and Cairn Terrier’s, too! I’m amazed, just last evening arriving home outside my apartment building was a gent with two small, longhaired white pups at his feet on his e-bike! Much like home, just quirkier and a bit crazier!
There seems to be a specialty hospital or car facility, and a school, placed a mid these many retailers, restaurants, and apartments. So among the pedestrians and e-bikers there are people pushing wheel chairs and baby carriages, and families packed by fours on two-wheeled e-bikes, and delivery men with packages piled high on e-bikes (two, sometimes three wheelers). The cacophony of sound coupled with the brightly colored attire of the citizenry, and the brightly colored business lighting and signage, against the city-dinginess of the scene, and the overhead pollution, just adds to the quirky, crazy vibe of the city here.
Mid last week, I was in the market at the base of my apartment building, getting familiar with the wares in this market and picking up a few staples for my apartment. Ohmygoodness, I was perspiring so badly as it must have been ten degrees warmer in the cramped market. I’d taken a tissue from my handbag and was dabbing my temples, and face… let’s face it, I was mopping up my face and neck from the dripping sweat! Well, tissue here in China is quite thin and as I wiped and dabbed my face and neck, small pieces of the tissue were left behind. Everywhere I go, people notice me because I’m tall and blonde, fair-skinned and blue-eyed and they often stare. It was no different here in the market, but what I didn’t know was that I had tissue all over my face! I learned finally because a very kind lady, nudged me and pointed at my cheek, where I promptly found the remnants of the tissue! These people probably thought me quirky and crazy!
From my writing desk I peer out over the rooftops of several buildings. I can see window boxes of vegetables and herbs and boxes and trellis atop of buildings with the promise of budding veg and fruit. Many of the fenced communities that I pass on my way to work, have vines of squash over growing metal fences into public streets, and fig trees providing shade for the bright orange Trumpet Vine. Accompanying this scene is the pleasant-faced, humming and oft whistling street sweeping man or woman donning a bright reflective orange vest, with a huge natural bristled broom, sweeping and cleaning the street for a four or five block stretch. People in taxis, and cars, and e-bikes whizz by seemingly unawares of the goings on around them; life is quirky and crazy and even a beautiful here in my new home.
I’ve been waking just before sunrise and arriving home just about sunset. I have found a sweet spot just a door from my apartment, on the outside staircase of my building. I sit there, on the stairs and watch as the sky lights up for the day or as the day closes and the colorful sky fades to black. It’s here that I reflect on what the day will bring or how the day is ending. It is here, that I have been meditating in thanks and gratitude for all the blessings I have in life ~ the love of friends new and old, courage and the heart to try new things and to take risks… And ah, I here that jingle coming hither again as it blasts from the street cleaner… My heart is full, in this new and beautifully quirky and slightly crazy new place I’m calling home.