More of Shanghai
Of late I’ve been writing on positives on shanghai. However, one turn-off I have in the streets in Shanghai is the presence of smokers. People do smoke everywhere and I am yet to come across any non-smoking zone. In India, things did improve a lot in last few years. Especially in Kolkata, it improved a lot (given the Bengali passion for intellectual cigarettes). Like Western countries, women do smoke at a high rate, so do the street-vendors. The worst is that they throw cigarette-butts everywhere. The city is kept clean by sweepers, who really work well to collect such huge garbage.
By the way, I think I have talked about a football ground near my apartment. It also has a synthetic athletics-track around it. Now the shocker is – it’s nothing but a high school!! I sometimes forget that I am living in a country that’s ranked second in the Olympics medals tally. Compare that to the situation in India. I can remember, before 1987 SAAF Games, West Bengal State Government literally ran out of money to build a synthetic track at Salt Lake Stadium. And, these people have synthetic running tracks in their schools. It’s no surprise that they are the second and we are fighting to avoid the last place.
Beggars are not that frequent visitors as they would have been in any Indian cities. The beggars here are more civilized also. Inside McDonalds I met a similar person (I should not call him a begger in Indian standards). He had a poster kind of thing, written in clear bold English, that he’s deaf and dumb and should be helped. While coming back home, I encounter a person who collects begging money in his hat. One good thing about the beggars is that they are all old. Also, they are better dressed up than any of their Indian counterparts. In India, I see young men and women, who could have added value in Indian economy, are begging at the streets. I hope that the section will soon dissapear in India also, and that would be an important step towards development.
Yesterday I had a frooty-like packaged cold drink. It tasted like ultra-dilute green mango juice. I was surprised to know that it was nothing but tea – cold green tea. It’s actually packaged as ‘Ice tea’ as it is cold. I am eager to have a ‘hot’ version of the same tea.
Today is the birthday of Tanya Chen, the girl who sits beside me. They arranged a small cake (delicious!!) to celebrate. The cake is cut but there are no candles to blow. Let me add an interesting spice to this trivial update. Steven (close colleague) told that in China, gifting clocks is culturally prohibited. The reason is somewhat amazing – the sentence “I gift you a clock” is similar sounding to another sentence “I wish your death”. So, it’s considered ‘ominous’. One can note the similarity with Indian culture at this point. Had the sentences been similar sounding in any of the Indian languages, it would have been probably considered a bad practice to gift a clock in India also. Both India and China, the old civilizations of the world, are yet to get rid of what we call social superstitions – an impediment towards real development.