Suddenly Famous in Bavaria

On Christoph’s last business trip to Mainburg, he was joined by his National Sales Manager, GL, and Technical Director, VW. On their last day, the two Chinese colleagues found themselves featured in the local newspaper. We found it hilarious and are so happy that they’re now small local celebrities ;o)

The only two Chinese in town that day.

The only two Chinese in town that day.

The article is about restuarant outdoor seating but the fun banter from the company went like this: Newspaper in Mainburg reporting on lazy Chinese who seem to be unemployed and therefore sitting in the streets and drinking alcohol while Bavarians have to work. Hehehe

More Blue Days Than Blue Sky Days

I hope this finds everyone well and getting on with Q2. Many of you know that Facebook is blocked in China and instead we use something called Wechat. It allows people to connect, post photos, comment, voice call, video call and transfer money to each other. I know it to be monitored by the State but I’m not communicating anything noteworthy anyway. Luckily for me, the majority of my Wechat contacts use it as a line of communication, not a line of showing me how many selfies they can take in a day. Phew!

The reason why I mention Wechat is that I subscribe to various newsfeeds and the stories that come through have been quite depressing lately. I’ve become much more aware of mental health since I started my second volunteering job; manning the phones on a crisis line. (Lifeline Shanghai serves the non-Chinese speaking community, is anonymous and runs everyday from 10am to 10pm)

The Chinese have their own crisis helpline but I don’t think people know about it and also that there is still the negative stigma attached to talking about your mental health. Here is some of the upbeat news from the past week:

  • Man seen walking down the street holding a plastic bag that contained the decapitated head of his wife, then tosses it in the trash. Man turns himself in to the police the next day. Says they had an argument.
  • Pregnant woman deliberately trips a child in a restaurant. Child goes flying to the floor. Woman apologises the next day. Receives full wrath of netizens questioning her ability to be a mother.
  • Enraged man seen beating a 10 year old child on a bus. Slamming the child to the bus floor and stomping on his head. Man was found by police the next day. Man admitted he was having a bad day.
  • 28 year old man kills 7 kids and injures 19 as revenge for being bullied a decade ago. The government pinned the blame on those with mental health problems looking for easy targets.

When you think about it, depression and anxiety are very common modern ailments. It can affect anyone, anywhere. When you break your arm, you go to the doctor but when your mental health is broken, many choose to remain silent. Do the above instances give you hints to the state of perpetrators’ mental health? Will we see more of such similar behaviour in the future with the growing urban populations and work/life stresses? I really hope not.

A recent news article on CNN highlighted this on going issue and so I wanted to share to bring about more awareness; https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/29/health/mental-health-suicide-hong-kong-asia/index.html

The Return of The Cheeses

I am happy to report that soft cheeses are back! The ban has been lifted... even though no one really knew why it was banned in the first place. So, cheese-lovers can now continue their soft cheese affair in China :o) Happy days!

He’s happy about it! (image source: American Museum of Natural History)

He’s happy about it! (image source: American Museum of Natural History)

Apart from the cheese news, other news is that Christoph is still in the full swing of a busy work schedule while I have been getting bags of goodies ready for the upcoming influx of trick or treaters. How crazy is it that Halloween is a big thing here??

Finding Peace in Tumultuous Times

With everything that is happening and has been happening in our world, it's become quite a scary time. In the western world, we are living in, technically, a time of peace. But this gets shaken up each time we have an episode of violence. I'm referring not only to the recent violent actions in Stockholm, Berlin, Paris, Nice but also in Syria, Egypt and Myanmar. (There are many more countries were continued conflict exists but I chose these countries as they are in the news regularly and these conflicts involve religion.)

I don't think that I am overly religious in any way but was raised with the Buddhist doctrines. As an adult, I intentionally go to temple probably twice a year and the rest of the time, I visit religious sites as a tourist. I do consider myself a Buddhist but it's not something that defines me as a person. The first major shock to my religious beliefs was learning of Buddhist monks harming and even killing people in Myanmar. It was such a devastating blow to my system that it took a while for me to proces and accept; that it was possible for Buddhists to be violent, that we are all eventually only human. But what turns non-violent people violent? Despair, jealousy, greed, anger, fear?

Peace in the early morning. 

Peace in the early morning. 

Carrying out an act of violence in the name of one's religion seems to be an accepted practice these days. And the danger is magnified when it's a lonely outcast who wants to feel accepted and valued for his contributions to the world. The other danger is when people become a mob of violence. Religion accepts everyone though, doesn't it?

All this violence and anger leads me to more questions: Do we need religion? Is it a positive aspect or a negative one? What would replace religious teachings to children when they are growing up? How do we find peace on our own? When will this all stop?

Shanghai Calling

I'm finally back in Shanghai after a three-month hiatus. It didn't seem I was away for that long until I came back to our apartment and couldn't remember where I had placed things. It's also been three months since Christoph and I were in Shanghai together, now that does feel weird.

I ended up spending just over a month in Australia and loved being back 'home' for the summer. Christoph had two weeks for Chinese New Year and we spent it wisely; lots of sleeping-in for him, longs walks, yummy food and plenty of down-time in fresh air. Best of all, however, was spending time with family and friends in Perth, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

Top, lunch with the family in Perth, bottom, lunch with the family in Sydney.

Top, lunch with the family in Perth, bottom, lunch with the family in Sydney.

Being able to just go to the beach was heaven. Over the years, I've really started to miss the Australian beaches and so having the freedom to squish sand between my toes and to dive into fresh salty water felt divine!

Top left and clockwise: Dunsborough, Surfer's Paradise, Manly and Cabbage Tree Bay

Top left and clockwise: Dunsborough, Surfer's Paradise, Manly and Cabbage Tree Bay

I have about a month in Shanghai before I head back to Perth to check on a project there. I will fill you in on the details once I have the full picture. What's new in Shanghai is that we will move to an apartment three floors down from the one we're currently in. It'll be slightly bigger as Christoph was suffering somewhat from not having a home office last year, so we bit the bullet and decided to shift. I also get to benefit from the new arrangements by being the recipient of a bigger kitchen...yay! It'll be a small packing job next week and we'll move on Saturday but I can't wait!