With a new year well on its way, I suppose its time – as that is what we are made to believe – to reflect upon the salient features of the past 12 months I’ve spent in Shanghai. My mind, without a doubt, instinctually drifts to memories of moments commuting to and from People’s Square: the heart of this rambunctious city and the location of my second living room – the office.
Yesterday Global Times published my ode to this half of my life, which you can read here. By now, I’ve come to love and loathe the chaotic ripple of humanity that teems through these streets. Yet, until recently, it represented such an intimate part of my life that these feelings could only be manifested in a blur of chaotic fragments that words would encounter trouble outlining.
The notion, like any rushed course in our daily lives, could be interpreted by slowing down to a zoom in on a defining moment of movement. The unorganized organization of the burdened transit system, the idiotic idosycrancies of post-Expo security check points that are seemingly left set up only for show; and, of course, the masses of people. They are all pieces of an overarching narrative that, by and large, defines not only my passing days here, but the way of a culture in frantic, forward flux.
The inability of Chinese people to make a line during rush hour boils down to overpopulation. When confronted with a sea of people, split-second junctures of time are often defined by a ‘dog-eat-dog world’ mentality. Life here is governed, or should I say suppressed, by powers of unbridled urbanization, engendering a dominant state of introverted collectivism.
Unruly, testy and indifferent – urban Chinese, much like the citizens of New York and Paris, by now have become well-known for their brambly public demeanor. Take initiative to break these barriers, however, and things change precipitously.
People’s Square may be an claustrophobic ant farm of apathetic work culture, but within it, people are still people. Slow down for second, and it becomes noticeable.