Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Adjustment in Reverse

If there are some things that seem a given when moving to China you may not expect the same those same things as a given when returning to your home country.

Going to the grocery store or market when first arriving to China might feel like a complete debacle...from the finding the address and name of the shop (thanks CW) to communicating it to said taxi driver (thanks HoodHot) to, and this is the big one...finding what you are looking for, it can be a whirlwind an "other world" experience but if I told you the same thing happened upon arriving back in your home country you wouldn't believe it until well, it happened.

There is something wonderful and simple about knowing there is only one kind of cheese that I can use for grilled cheese, pizza and crackers and cheese as well as knowing that there are only going to be 2-3 kinds of toothpaste so pick your favorite; paste, gel or stripes.  When you don't get a choice the challenge of getting to the shop is lessened because you don't have an aisle of shampoo to choose from, just a few...and the hard part is opening the tops to figure out if they are shampoo or conditioner.

For the past 2 years I haven't used a car for my daily commute around town...Beijing came with a pedal-assist El Camino type bike (yes it did go from seats to truck bed AWESOME!) and Shanghai followed with the red Sansi (san 3 si 4 = 34 it's max speed I assume) from Carrefour, of course, that at the end went local style with tape and broken mirrors and removed speed restrictor so it zipped with all three of us aboard.  We walked.  We cycled our one speed (fixie) bike sometimes laden with shubao and three people on it.  The neighborhood didn't necessitate a car or van, though admittedly there were times when it sure did come in handy but often the taxi driver was a fine replacement and sometimes a fun break from the norm...where else can you get cut rate Chinese lessons, a smile and a laugh shared between two people who barely speak each others language.

Now I don't own a car, I borrow. I may Zip Car in the future 'til I figure out what makes sense for us but previously I remember thinking we needed a big car and we owned a few but now after going without for so long and with the kids getting older I really don't see the need for the big family van or SUV...had my eye on a cherry red not-so-new Beetle but don't think it seats 5.  I figure if I'm going to drive it's going to be in bizarre small car filled with China memories because adjusting home is hard so why change just because everyone thinks you should?

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