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.

Quinoa, Avocado, Kale and Poached Eggs

It’s a beautiful sunny spring day in Shanghai. The first since I’ve been back and after moving, have time to attend a pilates class and enjoy my favourite salad lunch at a cafe around the corner. At this very moment, I’m sipping a cup of coffee while lounging in the sun where no one else is dares to sit for fear of turning brown! (hihi) Since Women’s Day on March 8, I’ve noticed quite a few things female-related in Shanghai. The one that sticks out right now is the noticeable shift in the dining/cafe scene.

Shanghainese women are leading the way when it comes to trying western fashion, fads and food. The fashion, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Chanel etc, had already been conquered since many years with fads following closely; I’m hoping athleisure wear will go soon. Now I am noticing the food factor. In Starbucks queues, 90% are young women. In the cafe I am currently sitting in, 98% of customers are young women.

Young women ordering kale salads, poached eggs on avocado toast and green juices; all things I like to order, except that it doesn’t seem like they actually like eating it. Most appear to come for the ‘photo’ factor, or in the west it would the ‘instagrammable’ shot. There is a mini photo-shoot happening at almost every table! It’s quite weird to watch but fascinatingly interesting as no one seems to mind if you stare. The ‘model’ I suppose is quite proud to have an audience.

Business Lunch   

Business Lunch

 

Unfortunately, because the food is so foreign, most diners leave more than half of the meal uneaten. It is such a waste of resources. Beside me, a table of five ordered a dish and juice for each person and after taking a photo of each item and picking through everything, they quickly left the cafe with everything half eaten on the table. On the other hand, the ladies in the above picture were in fact having a business meeting, so western food was chosen to show their internationality and no photos were taken but they too weren’t really into the kale or poached eggs. Can you imagine this happening at each and every table? It’s crazy... welcome to Shanghai.

Surging Ahead

We had another new subway line open up recently to add to Shanghai’s extensive Metro system. We now have 16 subway lines! Construction started in 1986 with substantial growth in the years leading up to the World Expo in 2010. Christoph and I like to try out any new developments and so took a ride on the new Line 13 to the Shanghai World Expo Center to visit an art fair. The new line was great; clean and almost empty as residents haven’t caught onto it yet.

The main hall of the Shanghai Exhibition Center in downtown. 

The main hall of the Shanghai Exhibition Center in downtown. 

Another area where Shanghai is surging ahead is in the area of art galleries and museums. It was only a few years back when private galleries were given permission to establish themselves in Shanghai and since then, there’s been an explosion of art fairs in the city. Not all are filled with great art but occasionally you’ll find a gem. We saw some lovely work at the Photosfair a few months back and were looking forward to today’s outing but alas, it was not meant to be. Nevermind, there’s always something on display in the city and as more and more people become interested in art and culture, I can only imagine that there’ll be more exhibitions each week than I can visit! :o)

Multi-culti And Multi-talented

We had a former classmate of mine, KM, over for dinner on Sunday evening. We started our B2 course together in Bangkok in the last month I was there. He had then decided to come to Berlin to continue his German studies. We, of course, had to meet up again and he brought along a classmate of his from his current course. Now this is where the dinner became very interesting.

KM is Malaysian of Indian decent. His friend SK is Russian. He's 21, she's 17. They are both intent on going to univeristy in Germany, he for Engineering and she for Medicine. So there we were, the four of us conversing in German with Christoph being the only one at the table who has it as a mothertongue. This really shows the direction the world is moving toward and that not all is lost with the next generation ;-)

To top off the evening, KM had made me a gift that I thought was absolutely brilliant! He's shown that he not only has a talent for languages and studying, but also for the arts. Can you see the resemblance?

A fine piece of work :-) 

A fine piece of work :-) 

Neighbourhood Watch... And Eat!

I love our neighbourhood and surrounding area. I also love wandering through fleamarkets and lucky for me we are close to the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark. It is touted as the largest fleamarket in central Europe, while others tout it also as where all stolen bicycles in Berlin end up! Overall, it's really a place of 'Trash or Treasure' and watching people go through the endless crates of stuff is so interesting.

Left and clockwise: sifting through the crates of stuff, antiques, street musicians, a stall with up-cycled wares, tea anyone?  

Left and clockwise: sifting through the crates of stuff, antiques, street musicians, a stall with up-cycled wares, tea anyone?  

On our way home, we went via the Kulturbrauerei and discovered that a fine food market had started taking place every Sunday. How cool is that? We hence had a fun progressive lunch, moving from mini food van to mini food van. Everything was tasty and well-crafted and I think because the sun had come out, that made the entire morning all the more wonderful!

Top left and clockwise: cake van, empanada van, crepe van, Christoph with our last lunch course from the grill van, sausage van, coffee bike :-) 

Top left and clockwise: cake van, empanada van, crepe van, Christoph with our last lunch course from the grill van, sausage van, coffee bike :-) 

Ich liebe Berlin!

Cultural Exchange

We were walking back home after a very scrumptious breakfast and went by this storefront that caught my eye. For our European friends, it may come across as very normal, but for an Australian, I had to have a bit of a giggle.

Bogan-ville? 

Bogan-ville? 

For our Aussie friends, a Fahrschule is a driving school. For our European friends, a bogan is a derogatory term used to describe one who is of the unsophisticated social class... who more often than not, drives a loud car recklessly.

So at the end of the day, for us Aussies, this driving school is just a bad idea!