Hidden unemployment in plain sight

So, there are a lot of things you learn in high school that you never use afterwards. For geography, which was one of my weak subjects, this might actually count a bit less. It is quite useful to know about Pangea and why Dutch soil is weak and why exactly Amsterdam is built on stilts. But in daily life, I do not think or wonder too much about these things. Something that is very relevant though, is the concept of hidden unemployment. I have already mentioned and experienced enough that efficiency is not held up to the highest standards in…

Well, it is only the rule so…

I sometimes think that the expression “Rules are meant to be broken” comes from China. Even though there are many ways in which people listen or accept things at face value, there is certainly a lot of room for opposition as well. Of course, this manifests in somewhat negative ways as well. Going off the beaten path in the mountains (although mother nature put this sign here urging you not to), shaking the trees for flowers or red leaves (ignoring another sign that says trees have feelings too) or simply squatting on the toilet seat (how do you do that…

Hush, hush, hush

Peace and quiet. Two things people definitely do not come to China for. The whole environment here is just plain noisy. From people to pets, from cars to cicadas there is always something happening and you can hear it. I live in a ‘traditional’ 6-story building in Shanghai and there is always some pipes making a noise, or the airco outside, or my neighbors getting up at 7 to dance to very loud music. In Shanghai, it is prohibited to honk for the greater part of the city center, but in Beijing that is definitely not the case. The symphony…

Nothing to be done pt. 2

“Well,” I said to him “I am only renting this place so I will talk to the housing agency and let them get back to you.” The guy stared at me blankly and replied gruffly: “Who are you renting this from?” I told him my agency’s name and he gave no sign of recognition at all. “Give me your landlord’s number, I will contact him directly.” At this point I started to get a bit fed up with him. Mind you, it was not even 7.30 and I still had no leaking problem in my house. I think we went…

Nothing to be done pt. 1

*BOOM BOOM BOOM* I took a look at my phone. It was 6:50. Also, my alarm did not sound like a cannon. I tried to picture myself sleeping and dreaming that sound, but it was a little bit too real. *BOOM BOOM BOOM* “Hello anybwody hwome? Wopen de doowr!” Note: this is not too make the person sound drunk, rather it was quite a heavy Shanghainese accent and I was not being very diligent in my listening. Why was this person so confident that people are happy to open their doors at 6:50 for strangers? Now it happens to be…

You have a funny sense of humor

Truly, how many times do we say that we like or do not like someone because of her or his humor? Certainly, there are those among my friends and other people I know with whom I share my jokes or do not. And then there are of course those who just laugh about anything anyway (you know who you are!). But to be honest, humor is something that is really culturally specific. I have often said things in an ironic or sarcastic manner, such as “Why would it be that way, huh?” or “We know what they are doing with…

Opvoeden doe je samen

Okee in Nederland hebben we een zorgmaatschappij. Dat betekent dat we voor elkaar zorgen en dat de overheid ook een duit in het zakje doet. Nederlanders in het buitenland met visumproblemen helpen, zorgen dat iedereen naar school kan of een toegankelijk gezondheidssysteem. In China doet de overheid ook duiten in het zakje. Sterker nog, het zakje, de duiten en de hand die ze erin doet zijn ongetwijfeld allen eraan gelieerd. Economie, kunst of religie heeft allemaal een politieke component hier. Maar ook in het dagelijks leven kom je de overheid geregeld tegen. Spandoeken met motiverende teksten, borden met waarschuwingen of…