Sweetheart Li Li and her story about life in China.
Sweetheart Li Li was the native of Shanghai. On the day we met, she was 46 years old, respectively, she already had some experience and had a chance to speak about half a century of development of China.
Our acquaintance started with a banal assistance in the selection of food in the airplane.
She did not know what means “омлет” and “блины” in russian language, because in English it sounds: scrambled eggs and pancakes, well, let alone how they call it in China I do not know yet. But judging by her expression, it was clear that she had never tasted anything like it, and chose a meal for lunch on the basis of the most enjoyable for her hearing. She took the pancakes, and I took omelet.
Pancakes was with some jam, ie sweet. On the tray, in addition to everything else they gave also mayonnaise. Li Li a minute looking at him, and then turned to me with a question: “What is it?”. “Mayonnaise” – I answer, but judging by the reaction of her i realized that this word do not say to her about anything. She began to show me that she want to squeeze it on the sweet pancakes, I was horrified and I politely explained that mayonnaise is usually eaten with salty food, not with a sweet. Finally, she agreed, smiled and put it aside. Having finished his breakfast Li Li embarrassed smile and start to look at my plate. Later still she plucked up courage and asked me what I eat. I said, “scrambled eggs” – and explaining that it is the eggs and milk. She continued to watch with interest. Then I had the idea to share, and Li Li gladly accepted. That’s how we became friends, on as much as three hours.
During these three hours, I learned about China, more than in the last 10 years.
Frankly, I’ve never been interested in a detailed history of China, but nevertheless I have a certain understanding. And then I decided to ask her about everything I had heard about China, but doubted the authenticity of the information.
Li Li flew from Shanghai on island Sicily for a conference for work. She is very sweet and friendly. I was surprised by the fact that she flew by complicate way: Shanghai – Moscow – Milan – Sicily. Because there is full of direct flights from Shanghai to Milan. Naturally, it was one of the first questions I asked her. The answer was simple, but for some reason I had not even considered. She flew like that only because this flight is almost twice cheaper. And she noted that had never been in Russia, and even to spend a few hours at a Moscow airport for her was a pleasure.
E.R.: Li Li, do you like Shanghai?
Li Li: Yes, it’s a very beautiful city, fantastic, you should definitely visit it. He is very big and charming. In general, China is divided into 32 provinces (this figure may be not accurate. I try to found online the exact number, but opinion is divided), last year I attended the last one on my list. To understand China, it is necessary to visit all its provinces. Each province has its own culture, its own customs. It is important just to see all this and take, not trying to compare one with the other. Still life in the city and life in the village are very different from each other. I am a native of the city, so I can not tell you a lot about life in the village. Speaking about life in the city, it is worth noting – it is heavy. We have to work hard every day to be able to live. Even if you are in a family of two, the two of you need to work.
E.R.: Do you like to travel?
Li Li: Yes, you know, when I was a child, I could only dream about it. At that time, our country has been closed. We were forbidden to go beyond it and, accordingly, the tourists were forbidden to come to us. And now you can travel anywhere in the world – it’s great! I have visited several European countries, America, Japan. With the advent of the “new China” many things have changed in our country. I think that people have to travel, because in this case they have an opportunity to know what is true and what is false, and to form their own opinion on various issues. I, for example, watching TV or reading the news to learn something about other countries and I have formed a definite opinion. Visiting after one country or another, I’m very surprised that a lot of what I heard “before” is untrue. Or I am very surprised when people ask me strange things about China. For example, I will never forget the first time having arrived to America and met there with the locals, a guy from Las Vegas quite seriously and sympathetically asked me if we have in China, escalators and elevators? I was so stunned at the question that did not immediately respond. What do they think about us at all? Yes, before China was a poor country, now everything is different. Or, for example, studying history at school I’m really discriminated Japan and Japanese. Because in the past, our countrys fought a lot. And I do not ever want to visit this country. But one day I had to make a business trip. During the trip, I felt uncomfortable, I do not want to go to them in principle. After arriving in Japan, and also mingle with the locals, I was pleasantly surprised. I realized that they had no longer any hostility to us and that history – a history, and the modern world differs from it. Moreover, I have seen many aspects that we should learn from them. Since then, I am like Japan and the Japanese people. I am friendly with them and do not feel the discomfort any more time.
E.R.: “New China”? What does that mean?
Li Li: Thirty years ago, came to power other people here they even opened our doors to the world. And grow economy.
E.R.: The Chinese, when choosing a spouse are guided by their personal opinion or the opinion of the parents? And whom they choose as spouses of the same Chinese or nationals of other countries?
Li Li: Today, for the most part everyone chooses a mate. Maybe only in some kind of remote villages parents still chose for the children. Well, also in wealthy families. Because there it comes to business, the prestige of the family, so it’s more contractual marriages. 30-50 years ago, the same was different. There’s parents chose for you, thats all. At the expense of whom choose a pair – ordinary Chinese. I do not know, maybe now with the advent of the Internet and the emergence of opportunities to travel will be more mixed families. China is divided into provinces and each province in its unique. So, when people get married with two different provinces, we can assume that the two were married a foreigner (smiles).
E.R.: It is true that in China is allowed to give birth to only one child? And in order to have more you need to seek special permission from the government?
Li Li: (Thoughtfully) Generally yes, but recently the situation began to change. Because our nation has become old, and we need the younger generation. So now to get permission to have a second child much easier than before. Thus, the ban on the birth of more than one child is real, but there are a lot of children born outside of the law. In China, there is a system of family records, it’s something like european of ID, but for the whole family. There we are obliged to register all family members. If you have more than one child, but one of them is not registered officially, in the future he will have problems. Because only members of the family registered in this system have the right to go to kindergarten, to school, get health care, get a job, etc.
E.R.: For the schools and kindergartens you need to pay? And which language they use for studing?
Li Li: I honestly do not know, I do not have children, so such details are not known to me. I think that perhaps the school free, but parents must themselves buy all school supplies, including textbooks. Training takes place in the Chinese language.
E.R.: If I ask you to divide China into classes: the poor, middle and rich. In which class are more people?
Li Li: I do not know, probably the average. Previously, it was easy, everyone was poor and equal. Now came this division and the endless race for money. I think we have adopted it from the Americans.
E.R.: Which is a dream for ordinary Chinese? What they are looking for? Career? Money? Start a family?
Li Li: When I was child we dream to be engineers or IT-specialists, now we just dream to get rich. Rather, we strive more to the career, but again – this is only my personal opinion, can someone thinks otherwise. Today is impossible to do anything if you have no money, people every day only think about how to earn a living.
E.R.: Is it true that China – one of the last nation who still care of their elderly parents?
Li Li: In the past was like that and was now changed. Now everything depends on money. If you have money, you can send parents to a nursing home, if not, then not. We have become “colder”, and easier to relate to family values. China changed a lot over the last thirty years.
That’s how we were flying, laughing and talking. Li Li has told me a lot of interesting stories, and asked me about life in Russia. Our neighbors looked at us puzzled, and I still marvel at how my life is paradoxical. And today, in fact, we made the flight from Russia to Italy, and virtually tour the mysterious and magical China.