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Zhu Qin Zhe
Rain comes down constantly, and I find it pretty annoying when the wetness is around everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. That’s the typical characteristics of the climate in South China -damp and warm in the spring, damp and hot in summer, damp and cold in autumn and winter.
Clothes can hardly be dried, therefore, we are forced not to wash any clothes, and the old clothes stink of dampness. Papers and books are all wrinkled up because of the wetness, and water drops fall down over the wall, as if it is sweating.
We do not dare to wash any more clothes, for it is not common for a Chinese household to own a tumble drier.
It is getting warmer and warmer, as it is getting wetter and wetter. That’ s the troubling thing people from Longyan complain about all the time, whenever the spring is around.
That’s why they never understand how in Sweden, people do not put their bed sheets outdoors for sun bathing – they do not have to, for the tumble drier does all the work.
Oh I can’t be sitting here and writing now, I have got to help my mother setting up the simple tumble-drier to dry out the clothes. She is pretty annoyed right now.
Mobile games are getting increasingly popular among Chinese youngsters, amazingly popular, I must say, far beyond my imagination. As a matter of fact, not only youngsters, but also mid-age people are devoted to mobile games recently. What do they play? The simple brick building, the eating snakes, the bubble tricks, nah, none of these mechanical ones. They play games that require a great deal of concentration, intelligence, logical way of thinking, as well as money.
The most popular one in China is called Wang Zhe Rong Yao, namely, “The Glory of the King”, developed by Tencent company. Released not more than five years ago, the game has reached such a degree where 90% of mobile users in China are bending their heads over the fighting scenes, at any possible place, for however long period of time – in subway, in toilet, in classroom, in office, in anywhere with or without Wi-Fi connection. There is no communication over mouths, for all the words to be shared stay in the games. What is the mutual activity at the reunion or get-together, except for one or two times of fighting through the games, and the winner pays the bill, the loser is in debts.
Those games with Glory as the leader, are, more or less, bringing strange people together through an intangible network. I feel out of connection, without being a player myself. Whilst everyone else is so much into their games, over the mobiles, I am sitting beside, looking out of the window, listening to their cheers and sighs. That’s pretty much fun, I suppose, seeing them in harmony and myself not abandoned because of lacking knowledge of the game – I have learnt a lot too by hearing them exchanging information, and I bet I have got other things to do, and my interest does not stay there.
I definitely am not saying that mobile games are not good. What is bad is addictiveness towards everything, anything almost, even if that is something publicly known as “healthy”.
Oh listen, my friends beside are starting to have another kill now. I do look forward to seeing who is going to pay for the lunch today, it would not be me anyway.
Chinese friends always ask me, if there are restaurants that serve Chinese food in Sweden.
“Of course, there are,” I replied confidently, “and there are many.”
Most Chinese tourists who come to Stockholm, would at their first instinct, seek for Chinese restaurants, rather than restaurants that serve western food. “Because Swedish food restaurants are expensive.” some of my friends explained to me. “Same with Chinese restaurants,” I answered, “They are, after all, restaurants in Sweden.”
But they still turn to Chinese restaurants. I assume that it is because they are scared of trying something new and unsure. That is just one of the many reasons. Another major explanation, is that many Chinese people would have established a belief for themselves that they would not be used to western cuisine at all. And this belief is stuck inside their head throughout the entire trip, so that they would avoid running into any western restaurant eventually.
“ I want rice,” some Chinese uncles tell me, when I ask why they do not try some western food, “and western food is nothing more than hamburgers and fried chicken, what is good about it?”
There is no need to tell them, that the so-called hamburgers and fried chicken they see in Chinese cities, are just fast food in western countries, and there are many more well-made dishes that can hardly be seen in any western restaurants in China, not even in huge, international cities like Beijing. There is more food than rice with wok vegetables, and potatoes, pastas can be the staple food as well.
Do not establish a belief that would control your choice, and I can’t be certain that because of the idea, you would miss a great deal of delicious goods.
A Chinese friend of mine has just moved from Lund to Stockholm. He wrote that he had already felt the high living cost in Stockholm, when he found no free parking place anywhere, and a ticket could cost up to 600 sek.
Honestly speaking, when I first moved to Stockholm I also found it expensive. Gradually, however, I realize that it depends on where you live, and how you live. Most importantly, after being in Beijing so many times, I do not think that any foreign friends would think that Beijing is so cheap, or China is so cheap any longer.
To live in Beijing is also very costly, especially accommodation. The price is not lower than that in Stockholm, the central Stockholm. But one advantage with Beijing accommodation is that there are far more choices than those in Stockholm - you can rent a windowless room for no more than 1000 rmb per month, yet it is still in Center of Beijing. But in central Stockholm, such a thing might not be possible, unless the conditions are way too terrible to have human beings living inside.
As for the groceries and restaurants, it is the same. Eating at an ok restaurant would cost around 100 per person, whilst eating at a fancy restaurant, it would cost naturally even more. But there are choices for 10 rmb one meal as well.
There are no cheap places in the world, it is just a matter of how much money you have. And there is no need to pick a place just because it is cheap, you should pick the one that suits you and you love.
When my father was in Sweden last September, he enjoyed drinking Swedish fresh milk very much, and gradually, he also began to like butter, cheese, yoghurt, and many other dairy products. He could drink one liter of milk each day, and a huge bowl of yoghurt. He also had butter spread upon bread, which he would never do in China.
“What left the deepest impression upon you in Sweden?” his friends asked him at his return. “The milk”, he replied without hesitation, “oh, and the beef”, he added, smiling.
In Longyan we do have fresh milk sold at supermarket, yet the so-called fresh milk tastes more like milk powder dissolved with warm water, leading to no milky taste at all. So when my father took a sip at Swedish milk, he could not let it go. He even thought about buying a can full of milk powder home to Longyan, for he assumed that Swedish milk powder ought to be tasty as well. But he failed to find any.
“Swedes would not want to drink powder milk when their fresh milk is cheaper and tastier.” I explained to him. He finally gave it up, and I bought some more boxes of milk for him to drink before he headed back to Longyan.
I heard that he has lost the interest of drinking Longyan milk since he tried the Swedish one, and right now, he is trying hard to find the alternative. And I found one in Beijing! Unfortunately, longyan is way too faraway to have the milk delivered there.
My mother does not like milk generally, no matter whether or not it is from Sweden or China. But she still admits that Longyan milk does taste less milky, and that is the only milk product she can accept, yes, because it tastes less milky, and creamy.
I personally think that it is just a matter of habits. When I came to Sweden for the first time, I also turned myself against milk products, until right now, I can’t live a day without a bowl of milk, be it Longyan milk or Swedish fresh milk. It has become a habit that I can’t get rid of, something I like to stick to. I hope that I could gain enough nutrients from fresh milk so that I could grow a bit taller,a bit taller, that’s all. Nah, I am joking.
The news that terror attack occurred in Stockholm reached my family in Longyan directly after it was sent in the air. All my friends, relatives and even working partners rang and asked if everything was fine with me. I told them that I was not close to that area when the incident happened, they all felt relieved.
News travels very fast nowadays, with internet connecting the entire world. Chinese journalists residing in Stockholm uploaded the information as soon as they received the material, leaking it out to the land six hours ahead of time. But that is not what grips my heart – the care of the family and friends is.
Loneliness is not about the external environment, but what lies inside the heart. Even if you spend most of the day by yourself, it would not make you one man, as long as you have someone, either near or far, who cares about you. They do not have to send messages to you every single day so as to stay in touch, to show their existence, or their care, what they need to do is to appear whenever you are in need of them, for a moment’s conversation, or just a message that asks how you have been doing these days.
For me, I think the best friendship/ relationship, is when you are sitting together, and even if you have got nothing to say, you would not feel embarrassed at all, for having you around is already a huge bless.
Basically, no one is alone, unless you keep yourself isolated, and refuse to show yourself to the world.
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