Clash of 2 worlds

Standing in a Metro entrance, waiting for a friend who is late. I have time to look at people passing… as well as being showered by the looks of the hundreds of people passing in front of me. It’s about lunch time, and this entrance is the connection of most busy metro station of Shanghai, with one of the main brand new shopping centers. The Shanghai metro is like all metros, functional, used by thousands of people a day. The shopping center is just a different world, clean, bright with marble and bright lights of advertising flashing around.
I noticed a little girl about 5 with a women about 35 (her mother probably) and a man 60 (I would guess the grandfather). I would guess they come from one of the neighboring provinces or one of the  faraway parts of Shanghai. They are not really at ease with the whole environment, somewhat looking for their way in the labyrinth of corridor. They have just bought a Mickey Mouse puppet for the little girl. I guess, it comes from one of the street vendors and it’s probably a fake one. I also guess it’s a substantial amount of money for the family, just to please the little girl. They stop just before the entrance of the shopping center, the grandfather squatting like Chinese people do in the country side. The face of this man is marked by nature, hard work and age. He probably spent many years in the factory, the field or something even worse. They start to unpack the puppet and play with it.
It took about 1 minutes for the security guards from the shopping center to ask them to move away. They were polite but firm. The family wanted to stay but after a short discussion stood up and started to move along. What marked me was the look of total incomprehension on the face of this old man. He obeyed the big guys in white shirts, just as a routine because they represent authority and this is what he has learned all those years. Having been through years of hard work and political turmoil… he just to find himself pushed away again, because they say he does not belong here. I guess the new Shanghai is just impossible to understand for people like him. I have seen the same look from Budapest to Saigon, on the face of these people that the disappearance of the communist dream world took by surprise… it still deeply touches me.

One thought on “Clash of 2 worlds”

  1. The story makes me sad. I came from a very modest family as well and my parents (especially my dad) will still feel uneasy when in a nice/fancy environment. When I took them travelling, they would prefer “crappy” inns over 5-star hotels.

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