Friday, July 15, 2005



I've been known to say that the underground mall at the Xujiahui metro stop is a kilometer long. But that was an estimation based on gut feeling. So a week ago, I counted my steps as I walked from one end to another. Given that that mall section is about 700 steps long, the mall plus the station is about 800 steps long, and the mall plus the station plus the exit to the Ganghui Guangchang (a mall) is 900 steps in all, and that my stride is about 65 centimeters long, then the lengths in meters would be 455 meters, 520 meters, and 585 meters. Heh, I was way off. (Ah, I found a confirmation. Wikipedia gives the length as 500 meters.)

It feels longer, but at my brisk pace I can walk from my house to Carrefour (or the other direction) in almost exactly 20 minutes.


I bought three apples for dinner, for RMB 3.8. A loaf of German brown bread at Carrefour was RMB 4.6, and I have peanut butter and jelly in the kitchen.

Jodi shares a 4th floor apartment with a housemate. Two bedrooms, public kitchen and bathroom. They pay RMB 1000, split in two. I pay RMB 2000. Granted, I'm closer to public rail transport and have my own kitchen/bathroom. Still, I'm looking for a cheaper place.

Jodi probably makes around RMB 3000 a month. Preschool English teachers are in demand right now. Parents nowadays are pouring a lot of money into their preschool-age kids' education.

I struck it up with the upper-middle-aged lady at the convenience stoor downstairs. She asked me my salary and I told her it was "pretty high" and that I can "live comfortably". Not really fair, but I asked her the same question. She told me makes a little over RMB 600 montly, not hourly. And knowing Chinese labor habits, she probably works long hours. But then, there are probably several salaries being pooled in her home.

Don't try to convert the above to dollars, it's really for comparison only. Well, maybe the apples. (RMB 3.8 = USD .31)


I got a Japanese spam in my Gmail account with the subject "えっとですね". Cute; they'll spam you, and still be polite about it.


At Jul 20, 2005, 2:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

firstly, you can still claim o be right about the XJH metro ;) because there are two floors! =D plus, there is the whole food area, the large underground clothing store, and then of course the entrances to the digital mall and the big department store. You cousl also not count these, but in an American mall, they'd count them. ;)

Also, I don't feel like you necessarily need more guilt for your social status right now, but one line caught my eye: "But then, there are probably several salaries being pooled in her home."

...I'm sure you don't mean to imply that her living conditions are somehow improved by living in some 25 sq. m. place with four or five (or more) other people. Well, at least, I know I value my privacy too much -- and that's what I'm learning here is a big price of poverty. Zero privacy. I suppose the rich will say the same, but at least they have their space.

At Jul 20, 2005, 2:30:00 AM, Blogger Micah Sittig said:

I don't feel guilt about my situation compared to others, I just feel that I'm living above my "minimum comfort level" and that I'm wasting resources on stuff I don't really need like over-use of air conditioning and sugary snack foods. Maybe you don't see it immediately because I'm actually pretty idealistic inside my head.

As for the comment about pooling incomes, I meant, if you compare her income to Jodi's rent (now obsolete, she moved on Sunday) then it looks like she makes barely enough to rent an apartment, which is not really true because she is actually a part of a collective and doing just enough work (working in a convenience store is not really strenuous work, particularly *this* conveniece store; I walked in tonight to buy an ice cream [see what I mean?], and the staff was gathered around the far end of the counter attacking a half-watermelon with spoons) so that the household's pooled incomes allow them to live comfortably. And if you asked this lady to move out to her own place, she probably wouldn't want to. I think people learn to live without privacy after a while.

At Jul 20, 2005, 2:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

oh, certainly. i realize this. ;) i suppose you could say she doesn't work very hard. but isn't she still throwing her life away so that we can buy sparkling tea at 3 am? :9~ mmmm sparkling teaaaa... of course i dunno all the economics behind it. i think my comment was overly critical XD i wasn't so much trying to criticize as clear up my own confusion about the apparent inconsistencies in that sentence. confusion, which was clarified even before i clicked "publish".

At Jul 20, 2005, 2:54:00 AM, Blogger Micah Sittig said:

That's because you're awake at 2:30 in the morning. Get some sleep.


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