The Chinese are into status. I’m not sure if it’s related to their long dynastic past with the gentry vs. the peasants or something relatively new with the influx of money opening their economy to the West has brought. But I do know, if you have money you should show it off and if you don’t, you should fake it ’til you make it. There are entire malls devoted to “knock off” luxury items, mazes of underground markets willing (with some good natured negotiating) to sell you “Prada” sunglasses for $8, and many, many people dressed in their finest cocktails dresses and jewels making a quick trip to the market. Outside our window, we watch the construction of the soon to be tallest building in the world (rivaling the Burj Khalifa In Dubai). And it is not uncommon to watch a Bentley follow a Porsche follow a Rolls Royce as you try to manage to cross the street with all your limbs in tact. (Insider travel tip: Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way in China – even when the little crosswalk-light man goes from red to green. And just because your pushing a stroller while carrying a baby, don’t think you get any special privileges. The hair on your head will blow from the bus that passes mere inches from you.)
So like any good expat, I’m trying to fit in. I already picked up some designer sunglasses and I can cross the street like a pro – look right, look left, hold your breath,take a step, watch out for that taxi, look right, look left, take a step, watch out for the bike, look right, look left, take a step, you get the idea.
So it is with great Sino pride, I tell you, I live in the Skyline Mansion apartment compound. Yes, I did say mansion. And not some pedestrian sounding “apartment complex” but a compound. Sounds a little Kennedy-esque, no? But just as my new Coach sunglasses, are not really Coach sunglasses, our apartment is not quite a “mansion” (i.e.. 10+ bedrooms) But it is pretty perfect for us so I like to refer to our new digs simply as “The Mansion.” Below are some pictures. (Note for the senior citizens reading on Carmen Rd.: If you click on the pictures, it should open a slideshow with captions.)
A note about the laundry. There is a dryer but apparently, in China, no one uses dryers because they don’t work very well. Why they just can import a trusty Maytag, I do not know. But if anyone out there is looking for a get rich idea…I just ask for a small cut of your profits. Our washer and dryer are from a German company and all the buttons are in German. I have figured out that there is some tray/container that fills with water as it (the dryer) runs. You need to empty it after after load or it will beep at you. And beep at you. And randomly shut off and beep at you. And a little yellow light will blink and blink until you empty the tray. Achtung, indeed. Even when you do empty it, it takes roughly 8 hours to dry a cotton t-shirt. So we are back to our Bangalore days of hanging out our skivvies for all the world to see. Also, in full disclosure Jiang, our Ayi (and Hunter), are in charge of the wash so this is not a complaint just thought it was so China.
After nap time, we’ll take some pictures of the grounds in the compound and post them tomorrow.
Oh and one last one…in case you thought I was being melodramatic about the crowds during Golden week. The picture below I shamelessly copied from a Twitter post – it’s of the Bund on National Day.