Hindi-Cheeni Bhai Bhai!

(Translation: Indian and Chinese are brothers)

It was an interesting sight and since I didn’t want to offend anyone by taking a photograph, here I am trying to draw a picture by words! This sight came up unexpectedly when we wandered into Friendship Shopping Center in Shanghai near LianHua Rd metro station. This is a huge shopping mall with lots of small shops on first floor peddling everything from McDonald’s burger to dried snake for medicinal purposes. We were roaming around when we came across this shop, which is called (very unimaginatively I thought) T.T.K. Fried Chicken in small English fonts and large Chinese characters across the banner. Two (very dark-complexioned) Indians (Tamils, which is a southern state in India) were busy preparing very interesting-looking bread, and a (very fair-complexioned) Chinese girl was standing right besides them taking orders from some customers. Continue reading “Hindi-Cheeni Bhai Bhai!”

Random Observations: Traffic is no worse than India!

When we were coming here, we were told that traffic is really bad and I should not even think of owning a car, let alone driving it. So I have stuck to that advice and use public transport. However, traffic is not that bad, especially if you compare it with India. People here seem to follow the traffic sign most of the time, and I am yet to see a fight breaking on the road because someone cut someone else off or bumped lightly. These are very common sights in India. Also, even though the roads are crowded, I haven’t … Continue reading Random Observations: Traffic is no worse than India!

Random Observations: Why do Chinese websites names have numbers in them?

Within China, I find so many websites which are either entirely composed of numbers (like http://www.4008123123.com/ which is a pizza hut franchise in Shanghai), or part of the name is numbers. It was intriguing to me initially, and I was thinking about the reason. One reason is logical (esp the pizza hut example above): this is the number you can call to place order, and also the name of the site too where you can place order online, so only one thing to remember. Another reason for all numbers is also that it is language independent (since Chinese write numbers … Continue reading Random Observations: Why do Chinese websites names have numbers in them?

Random Observations: Buying Books

There are very large bookstores in Shanghai, much larger than the ones I saw in US. However, they carry Chinese books only (except for a small corner of foreign books). This is tough for me, because I really love the sight of books and like to spend time in a book store just browsing the contents and titles. However, this has interested me to learn reading Chinese characters, hopefully I will learn enough in 6 months to read the title of the book at least! I have been told that it is very difficult to learn reading if you can … Continue reading Random Observations: Buying Books

Random Observations: Learning Chinese is harder for a native English speaker!

Learning Chinese via English is hard even though there is pinyin, even though pinyin was invented to make this easier. It is much easier to learn Chinese if you know an Indian language (or any other phonetic language). This is because English is not phonetic, and Chinese is all about tones and sounds. So a native speaker has huge difficultly in repeating the sounds and capturing it in their notes. For example, as I am taking my lessons, it is much easier for me to duplicate what my teacher is saying by writing it in Hindi rather than just writing … Continue reading Random Observations: Learning Chinese is harder for a native English speaker!

Random Observations: People are so good

Our experience with people has been great so far, and I am told that it is normal. I see taxi drivers tolerating our lack of spoken Chinese and take it in their stride by trying extra hard to get us to our destinations, all without expecting anything outside the meter reading; I see shopkeepers trying hard to find someone who can understand bits of English so that they can answer our English queries. I find numerous instances where people can be dishonest or lazy (or both!) because they do not get anything extra by being otherwise, but still they behave so well with us. When I contrast this experience with that in India (especially north India), this stands out as a striking difference between these two places. I am not sure if I get special treatment because I am a foreigner (because we are supposed to be dumb!), but I suspect this is more because of the general nature of Chinese people to be nice and kind.

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Random Observations: Marriages in China

Coming from the thought process that Indian and Chinese culture are similar in lots of ways, I was very surprised to find that in most parts of china, it is expected that boys and girls will find their life partners on their own, rather than parents helping them (the so-called ‘arranged marriage‘ which is so prevalent in India). I am still surprised and not convinced, but I have been told by all of my reliable sources that except in few villages, norm is indeed to find your own partner. I always thought that evolution from parent-controlled adults to self-controlled ones … Continue reading Random Observations: Marriages in China

Some Random Observations about Shanghai and China

It has been a long time since I posted here, sorry about that. I have been busy in the process of settling down which has afforded me some observations which I will share over coming days. These are some of the observations I have had since we have been in Shanghai but I was trying to collect more instances, reasons or facts before presenting them to you. Some of these are based on discussions with a few of my colleagues while others are my own observations over last 2 months. Please read this more as a tidbit to be enjoyed … Continue reading Some Random Observations about Shanghai and China

Buying medicines

Buying medicines was tougher than I thought. We asked in various govt hospitals but couldn’t figure out what they were saying! Later we were told that they give medicine only on the prescriptions from their own doctors. When I went to couple of pharmacy, they wouldn’t understand English prescriptions. I tried looking up Chinese names for those medicines, but no luck. Finally some searches on expat forums got us to Parkway community pharmacy in Pudong (no relation to ParkwayHealth group of hospitals) who could talk in English on phone, could understand the english names, could deliver at home, and to … Continue reading Buying medicines

Being in Shanghai over week-long holiday (National Day)

Shanghai has 2 week-long holidays, one during Chinese New Year (end of Jan) and one during National Day (Oct 1). It is always fun, and somewhat unusual, to get a full week of holiday. It was amazing to see so many people on the road and in the shops in the initial couple days of the vacation in our xujiahui area, but then it reduced to a more normal state. For us, since this was the first week after I joined office, we had to start our search for a good maternity hospital. After lots of research, and many recommendations and brickbats from Shanghaiexpat.com and ShanghaiMamas mailing list, we went to ParkwayHealth.

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