Meeting people

I often wrote that China is a country hanging between the past and the future, old-fashioned doctrines and new technologies, traditions and modern life forms. You encounter places like the panjuan antique market, where you can find Chinese porcelain, silk drawings and Mao’s books and postcards, old instruments and other relics of the past. You can swipe an electronic card at the subway to get to the summer palace and travel back to the emperor’s days, feeling like a nobleman taking a boat ride on a sunny day or sitting in the audience of an ancient theatre. You can feel the old breath of the city taking a wall amongst hutongs that seem to have stayed the same for ages, with street food carts and little fruit shops frequenting the streets. Walking on you find yourself gazing at skyscrapers, until you find an ancient temple in the middle of malls and banks.
The rapid change of the country is also expressed in the people I encounter and the opinions they take.
My host grandma, as I said, is still typically Chinese. The jiaozi I feature in this post are as delicious as they look, I really get used to the unique taste I get here. Making myself a coffee she looked at me strangely and when I brought home a bottle of milk for my own use I could read the question in her face – What do you want milk for, it’s for babies!
My host mum, on the other hand, is very modern. Family time is often spent in huge malls. There you can find expensive brands, Starbucks cafés and restaurant s styled more American than in the States. They pop up everywhere in the city, meeting the needs of the percentage of Beijing’s population that thrives for consumerism and can afford it. Staying at one of the huge indoor playgrounds with bubble baths and toy supermarkets every six-year-old dreams of, you can watch mothers with Gucci bags taking I-phone pictures of their girls dressed in cute dresses with matching tights and French caps. Boys wear a male version or shirts from American universities.
In theatre class I met another Chinese girl I am glad to call a friend. After studying journalism she came to Beijing to work for a magazine. We met and talked a mixture of Chinese and English while eating seafood porridge and small, black-colored eggs on the open street. (One of the weirdest things I have eaten so far, besides boiled frog that was alive five minutes before reaching my stomach.)
Open minded and interested in all the parts of the world we had a most interesting conversation about family bondings and lifestyle. Hearing that my parents were never married, she would look at me and say “This would never be possible in China“’ A woman above 25 who has not found a suitable match will start to worry, and will envy the young mothers taking family selfies. After dinner she took me to a Tattoo place where she got her earholes made, a step to a new life for her after changing her job. All her stories and actions remind me that we are searching for the same thing- freedom and a life as we want to live it.
See you soon,


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