5 days in ShangHai and I’m already loving it! Actually, to be honest (which, you all know, I am more often than not) I was head over heels in love with this city even before I left the airport. What can I say? I have very strong and reliable intuitions. Afterall, it’s my intuition that led me to marry Mr. M and here we are! But, I digress.
From my experience, I believe that the whole ‘Blink’ and ‘thin-slicing’ funda works flawlessly with places too. Australia – Love at first sight and after almost 5 years of living there, I was still so smitten by its charms, I didn’t want to leave!! U.S. – well…not so much (we just have very different personalities, different priorities) and 5 years later, I couldn’t really wait to leave. Oh! Just so you know, in my mind, when I say U.S., I am not thinking of Hawai’i and Alyeska. After all there isn’t much they have in common (culturally) with the mainland! Canada – Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! With every fibre of my being, and though I didn’t live there, I am pretty sure I will feel the same if I did. Afterall, the thing I miss the most about the U.S. is Canada! China – Totally! Head over heels and so much that now my head is starting to spin. I am pretty sure that’s exactly how I will feel 3-5 years from now!! I mean, what’s not to like about this place, huh?
But then what exactly is it about this place that makes me feel like this? For one, when I flip a switch ‘on’, the lights go ‘on’! We have street side fruit stalls here. And the fruits smell so good, they are simply irresistible. You just cannot walk past without buying some. People here don’t look at you like you just escaped from the mental asylum just because you don’t want to own any furniture. ‘Not owning’ is not a concept they have never heard of! The locals do not understand the concept of ‘tip’. No! I am not making things up! They really don’t. The person who drove us from the airport gave us a very quizzical, lost look when Mr. M gave him a tip. And so did the bell boy. And the waiter at the restaurant. And the cab driver who drove us to the clinic. They do not expect it. They don’t know what it is for. We have heard that sometimes they will even chase you down to return your money to you!!! The whole concept of serving because you want to and not because you expect that extra something in return is just so beautiful! What’s more? Doctor’s give you same day appointments. And they don’t make you wait for an hour and a half before they see you. And they don’t cancel your appointment if you happen to come more than 10 minutes late. And they don’t charge you for same day cancellations! Doctor’s aren’t afraid to give you a diagnosis. They don’t beat around the bush. They don’t ramble on and on for half an hour before they tell you that you’ve got the flu.
It’s just so refreshing living in a place where people aren’t afraid to connect with each other. Where values run deeper than appearances. I think this is what does it for me. Clean streets and shiny new buildings and order in everything is nice for a while. But then, I start longing for chaos. For some blithe indifference. And then, I learn to look past the superficiality, the appearances. That is when clean streets and fancy shopping malls and convenient parking garages matter no more. And people do.