Shanghai Marriage Market

Wow! What a busy few weeks we’ve had since getting back to Shanghai. Busy isn’t a word that I like very much anymore; I don’t like to hear how people like to say that they are busy just to sound interesting. So what other words can I use to describe our lives instead? I’m not too sure at the moment.

What I can share is that we are both very well with Christoph working hard to get the factory underway. After getting back from Switzerland and while still suffering from jetlag we had visitors, VZ and VM, come to stay. It was great to see them, spend time together and to show them what we get up to in our home town. Most guests leave Shanghai pleasantly surprised. I like that. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to live here; the good stuff, the bad stuff, the challenges and the small accomplishments. Until you come and stay and see for yourself, Shanghai is another world.

I took VZ and VM to the marriage market which takes place in People’s Square Park everyday but the biggest turn out is on the weekends. I’ll describe it as a kind of online dating but old school. Grandparent and parents display A4 pages of handwritten descriptions of their children. Age, gender, height, education and what they are seeking. You then approach the parent and give them your candidate. If the attributes sound good to both parties, then photographs are shown and possibly phone numbers.

This was on a quiet day but still lots of people.

This was on a quiet day but still lots of people.

What we found interesting was a significant section was devoted to Chinese citizens living and working abroad. Countries that stood out were the States, the UK, Australia, Canada and Japan. I wonder if those people know that their parents or grandparents are husband/wife hunting for them. If you were over 30 and had no time to date, would you mind? What I also noticed was that they do want their children to marry a fellow Chinese citizen.

A friend’s assistant who is a 36 year old female, decided to go there last year to see if she could find a husband. Her credentials are good; she works for an Australian company, is Shanghainese, is smart and healthy. After approaching a few parents, she was berated for the fact that she will never find a husband while earning such a high salary! She was told to quit her job and get a lower-paying one so she would then be more interesting to the potential suitors. Unbelievable! A strong independent woman can never win in such a market.

VM was lucky during our visit. She was approached by a father who liked her height. He didn’t mind that she spoke not a word of Mandarin but said that VM would be very suitable for his son who is also very tall. I politely told him that she’s not currently looking. While I was translating some of the profiles, another man came up to me to ask what in particular I was looking for. Sorry, Alison, I told him that I was looking for a husband for my younger sister (the parents don’t like tourists to snap pictures and to be nosy so I needed a cover story). I was quite intrigued as to how business-like it all was. He asked for age, education and height, and I think he was an agent because he seemed to be representing a few candidates. He also asked if she looked like me and of course I replied that she is much prettier :o)

It’s a whole other world but in the end you just hope that everyone finds what they are looking for.