Im an American who has Just moved to Shenzhen China. These are just random thoughts
|So, here's a brief overview of my current situation.
After leaving college as an English major, I was fortunate enough to get a job in Shenzhen at a Chinese company. I'll probably be doing something that will have little to do with my English major skills, but its a paying job at least. At this point, I really have no idea what it entails. I got it through a connection. So, for the next 10 months I will be working in a city where only one in a couple hundred people speak English (this is a hypothetical figure taken from where the sun don't shine).
Meanwhile, I'll be writing this blog and working on my portfolio for applications to MFA programs stateside next Fall.
Initial Impressions on the first night at my new 36 square meter apartment:
Let me speak of what is around me. It is night. As I sit here in my corner spot of the window, those windows open as wide as their rusting hinges can bear, I smoke a small cigar and listen as the smoke goes twirling up around my ears. Outside the sounds of a city ring out the same sounds of almost any city, with the jack hammers drilling, the dull roar of traffic, and the occasional bleep of honks. From somewhere above, water drips on me through the open window. Though I am on the sixteenth floor, someone above, in the twenty stories above, must be watering plants or hanging wet clothes out to dry. At least I hope that's what it is.
I have to stop my smoking for a minute, to set it resting precariously on the windowsill in order to type. Otherwise, without constant attention its short little body will send smoke up my nose.
Blue lights in vertical lines stretch up a faraway building, most of them static, yet some along one vertical path trickle upward with varying designs, sometimes a series of gravity defying comets, sometimes a rising water margin, rising like a thermometer until it reaches the tippy top of the building's side and descends again.
Far away a baby cries.
My cigar is out. Such a baby cigar, its almost not worth relighting. I relight it.
The window of my new apartment, the one I moved into today, is, as I've said, a large corner window. During the day, my room is lit up by the sun. At night a tremendous television atop a nearby building lights up my room as well, blaring out the neon promises of various companies and brands. It serves as my illuminating electric moon, basking my little section of the city in its pale glare.
There is a gap in the line buildings across the street from my apartment complex. It is a hole in the ground, an incredibly large hole that descends at least a hundred feet. Inside you can see the scaffolding of some great enterprise, surrounded by half a dozen yellow cranes and lit up by the lights attached to them. It makes me think of an ant hill, if you were to slice it in half with piece of glass and look at all of the delicately constructed tunnels.
I had feared that this city would have no personality. Beijing, my former Chinese home, had history, culture, traditions to keep me interested and occupied. Twenty years ago, Shen Zhen was a fishing village, or so they say. Now it has a population of over 14 million. Everyone, like me, is an immigrant. Restaurants from every province cater to the tastes of the homesick masses, clashing together in a variety of ethnic tastes I've never seen in China before. At night, the streets are more full of people than in the day. Shops, grocery stores and wet markets, legitimate 7 Elevens and 7 Eleven rip offs, all stay open until long past dark.
When I was on a walk a short while ago, I saw a man laying belly down on a cart in the middle of the road. He had one eye, and his feet were bound with rubber tubing to make them look like seal flippers, I think intentionally. Does he find this funny? Does he get more money from begging in this way? I wonder that.
The one-eyed man wearing flippers had to paddle his cart away when a van came honking down the road.
There was music there, too. A young girl in a wheelchair sang with a weak but honest voice, warbling out Chinese songs through the electric speakers attached to her chair. Her father pushed her down the street, carrying a baby in a sling.
I ate my dinner at a noodle stand. Its walls were light blue tile. The owner and his family sat and watched TV in the corner, a cartoon. The daughter was young, studying her homework on the commercial breaks.They were kind people, smiling at me and happily serving me. I did not know the names of the dishes and they had no picture menu. In broken Chinese, I asked the wife what she thought was the best tasting dish. She suggested peanut noodles and a bowl of wonton soup. The meal cost 10 yuan, which is about a dollar and a half U.S. It was delicious.
When I left, the daughter said "goodbye" in English to me. This was the first English word I had heard since my mother and her friend had returned to Hong Kong earlier that day. Somehow it sounded simultaneously familiar and foreign.
My cigar is out, smoked to the nub. I close the windows and mute out the city, at least a little. Now I can hear the whispered static of a neighbor's television, emanating from the ceiling.
I'm going to pour myself a Tsing Dao beer, which cost me only 90 cents, then maybe go to sleep. Tomorrow, I will explore the city more thoroughly.
Fridge started making a funny noise in the middle of the night. Took it apart with a kitchen knife. Fiddled with it. Problem fixed, I think. Going back to bed.