Always been a big fan of the variety shows from the ’70s. Loved Sony and Cher and Tony Orlando and Dawn but my all time favorite was The Carol Burnett Show. Best team of 4 comedians ever put together to entertain us with quick, vignettes of comedy, never lasting more than a couple minutes.
Consider this Square Melons as just that – quick vignettes of observations I’ve been noting during our time here but not quite enough content to dedicate an entire blog.
Act 1. Warm FeetAs we move from Spring into early summer in Shanghai I cannot help but notice the return of the crew length, nylon sock for women. An interesting fashion statement that caught my eye from the very first time I saw it, mostly sported by the elderly women of China.
After doing a little investigating, turns out in Chinese medicine it is believed that keeping your feet warm, wards of illness. Even when the temperature hits 30 degrees celsius or 80 degrees fahrenheit, on go the nylon socks.Act 2. The Beijing Bikini
As for the men of China, when it’s hot, apparently rolling up your shirt and exposing your stomach and “abs” keeps you cool, and helps to make you stand out among your friends when trying impress the ladies. Very sexy.
Act 3. Red UnderwearDuring the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year the sale of red underwear skyrockets. The belief is that the color red means good luck and wearing red underwear can make your day go all that much better.
It’s not just at Chinese New Year that red underthings are given as gifts, turns out women receive bras and matching underoos on their “12th” birthdays. 12, 24, 36, etc.
Curious how I received this informaton? While on our walks around the city, each block we pass, I notice at least one pair of red underwear (never thongs by the way) hanging out to dry. So, not shy, I asked a co-worker over brunch one Sunday, “hey, what’s up with all the red underwear?”
Act 4. Childbirth
So much to share here but let me see if I can keep it at a level that won’t lose the male readers.
Seems that the 30 days after childbirth is a critical time for women of China. For those that have the resources, they are put up at a medical facility/resort for a month recovery and help with the baby. For those that don’t, the family takes care with most times the mother-in-law taking the lead.
New mothers are not allowed to shower, go outside or drink cold water. There are a lot of rules. No exposure to cold air. No air conditioning as it is believed that your joints expand during pregnancy and they need the time to contract. If you are exposed to cold air, it will settle in your joints and cause arthritis as you age.
New mothers are not allowed to read or watch TV and have limited “screen” time as it is believed that you need this time for even your eyes to heal otherwise you may have vision problems later in life.
No chocolate or coffee. Oh, and no makeup during the pregnancy or for the 30 days after. Seems the chemicals can effect the baby.
Try not to judge people. The Chinese believe that “sitting the month” brings your yin and yang back into balance. Our youngest just turned 22 and I’m pretty sure my yin and yang are still out of balance.
Final Act. Potty TrainingChina is a diaper free zone. As soon as a child is old enough to hold his or her head up, they are ready to be potty trained. The children wear crotchless garments that make it easy for the Ayi (nanny), grandparents or parents to train the child to tinkle or go big potty (my words not the Chinese.)
A “shushing” noise is made, like the sound of running water while holding the baby over a toilet, or really, any open area. Once the child “goes” they are rewarded with praise, hugs and kisses.
This is all great. Really like the idea of not having to deal with disposablediapers in a country of a billion+ people, but we’ve witnessed some questionable acts like a child going on the floor at the airport and the grandparents just walking away, leaving it for the cleaning people. Or a mother holding her baby over the trash can near where we were sitting while waiting for a train.
I’ve had some fun with this. I’ve tried making the “shushing” sound when there’s a long line at Starbucks to see if it would make half the people leave to use the restroom and shorten the line.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode of Square Melons and the vignettes of life in China.
Stay tuned for your local news.