Friday, January 12, 2007

Chinese people...

I have been a bit too tired to update, and I apologize! Here is a short one.

I often get tired of city life, everyone rushing around, no one seeming to give a damn about each other. It seems just much too rushed, especially in terms of traffic. It's understandable, in terms of increasing globalization, population (although I suppose the population growth is not technically increasing that much now), divides between the rich and the poor, etc. I have also heard of some nasty city situations pouring into the rural areas: in Sideng Village, Shaxi Township, which is becoming more developed (mainly due to the help from a Swiss organization, and from increased tourism), apparently there are robbers who prawl the streets during the village's market day, which is on Fridays.

Yet every once in a while, I do encounter something that tells me that we are all still in this together, and people sometimes don't have to look out for just themselves. For example, I was on the bus (which is now a rare occurance due to my wonderful, cheap bike) and as more people piled on, I pulled my backpack in front of my chest. I was definitely not in the mood to have my cell phone, or anything else, stolen again. I lazily balanced the bag on the back of the chair in front of me, and I must've shifted it too much, because a sixty-year-old woman sitting behind that chair suddenly insisted on putting my bag in her lap. I protested, but I knew it was no use because most Chinese women seem to have this incredible ability to get things their way. She also took my jacket, which was in my hands.

Sometimes, I try to give back as well. It's worth it to see the smile on a person's face, to just get along with people instead of glaring at them (which is what I am usually doing, be it on my bike - biking is a dangerous mode of transportation here! - or on the bus), but it's sometimes hard. When I see a person digging through garbage or sleeping on the street, would it be "awkward" to give them something to eat?

On a similar note to that, I went to my second visit to Shaxi (and fourth overall) recently. I think I am beginning to realize why there is a lot more research on rural-to-urban migration from the urban standpoint, as opposed to the rural. Rural life is extremely difficult. Yet there are many happy people in villages, some tight bonds, and most importantly, people know each other, and people are in it together. Yet in the city, migrant workers are probably struggling a lot more, even if they make more money. They have to deal with being out working, probably by themselves (unless they are in retail/resteraunt or something similar, and even then they may not know their co-workers), have to deal with no insurance, long hours, bosses that are probably not looking out for their best interests, having lower "statuses", perhaps having to communicate in something other than your mother tongue... and the goddamn traffic. I get more emotional seeing a man riding a bike pulling a huge cart full of glass panes than I do seeing a row of women planting rice. Both are backbreaking jobs, but I think being in the city, away from your home, just makes it that much harder. (Thus, if researchers were to follow this line of feeling, they would probably choose to look at it from that aspect.)

**disclaimer** Not all crappy jobs are taken by migrant workers, of course. But many are - after all, they had almost all the disadvantages from the start.