Sunday, January 21, 2007

Impressions from China - Counting Sheep & Blessings

On the way to dinner a couple of nights ago, we saw three flocks of sheep grazing on the side of the road, watched over by shepherds...sheep, I tell you! As my sons "oooh"ed & "ah"ed over this sight, I turned to them & said, "How random is that???!"

But on second thought, I figured that in China, this wouldn't be a 'random' occurence, & it shouldn't have surprised me; the same way how seeing mules still being used for pulling cartloads of goods/cargo shouldn't have surprised me either (we saw this while visiting one of the schools we were considering for our boys).

This country is such a unique blend of the old & the new, the urban & the rural, the rich & the poor, the East & the West. There is such a disparate difference between how & where people live.

The Shunyi district where we are is filled with "compounds" comprising of "villas" mostly occupied by foreigners & the well-off Chinese. These compounds usually have their own clubhouse with amenities like indoor/outdoor pools, gyms, restaurants, even spas on their premises. The houses are equipped with washers & dryers & dishwashers, satellite TV links & internet access.

Interspersed within this district, I see single level homes clustered together like a large village. From what I can see from the road, these buildings have sparsely furnished rooms, darkly lit, a single bed inside, laundry hanging on a line outside. These are occupied by local labourers & "migrant" workers who leave their rural villages to become "ayi"*s or manual laborers or taxi drivers in the greater Beijing area.

Truly an eye-opener for us.

*ayi = domestic helper

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