Match Made in a Marriage Market​

上海 Blog #25


Sunday June 14th, 2015

Local Time: 23:10 Shanghai Time

I slept in until eleven am today. It was beautiful. Remember to sleep when you’re abroad. Sleep is always awesome no matter what piece of the world you’ve managed to roam into.

After my quickly becoming classic meal of an Orange Mango Green Tea with QQ Jelly from Happy Lemon and a Rou Zha Mo from my go to street cart, I was ready to start the gruesomely hot day that landed me in People’s Square via metro by 12:30pm. While I admit I’m still a bit museumed out, if you know what I mean, it was still a little cool to ramble through the Shanghai History Museum, at least at first.

I still never really get over the concepts behind Chinese security. It seems so strict some places but not strict at all on places like the metro. Therefore, I found it quite weird when after my purse went through the X-Ray machine, the guard said “water!” I thought myself, Oh man, he’s going to make me throw it out and there will go my water supply for the day. But, he merely said “drink.” So naturally I assumed he expected me to drink the whole thing. Instead, after just one swig he said “enough” and I went on my way. I guess they just wanted confirmation it wasn’t glycerin or something.

Touring the museum, we encountered jade, calligraphy, paintings, currency, minority clothing and old furniture. Once I’d exhausted my exploration, I joined some other Madisonians in the tea room only to end up with a Chinese three year old squirming in my lap and getting my picture taken. It’s still weird but fun to be a celebrity for nothing other than my blondish hair and blue eyes. Most of the others on the trip think it’s rude and they are highly offended by the whole picture taking business. I don’t mind it.

Now, if you have ever been on a or an eHarmony, let me tell you, you’ve got the right idea but are missing out on all the extra flare a Chinese Marriage Market has to offer. We showed up at about 4pm, fifteen 18-20 year olds strong, and were completely swarmed by old folks trying to match their sons and daughters for marriage. Unfortunately, most of the handsome Chinese men for sale were born between 1973 (my parent’s age, eek!) and 1990 and I have a strict no-earlier-than-1992 policy, so I did not find my future husband on any of the umbrella’s baring resumes. I did, however, get the chance to talk to a bunch of old men who wanted to practice their English with me. I was quite impressed because apparently they’d picked up English by merely watching English TV. An impressive fete.

Once 翟老师(that’s Zhai Laoshi, I finally figured out the character for her name) finally managed to peel us away from the hopeful parents, we were introduced to the next activity – a scavenger hunt! Finally, this was my chance at redemption after my utter failure during the amazing race the third day here. Our teams were different this time, and we were on a mission to win.

There are only two activities of the five that I’m going to mention here:

The first was Take of video of you dancing for thirty seconds with local people. So we ducked into a shoe store on East Nanjing road and I asked them in Mandarin (of course), “你们可以不可以跟我们跳舞?They all started laughing, but obliged. Luckily, there was already music playing, so we had a beat to back up our moves. Once we’d finished our thirty seconds, we’d drawn such a crowd that it seemed we couldn’t possibility discontinue our flash mob. The employees went back and even changed the song (wow, they were serious) and we went another good two or three minutes dancing with people all over the place taking pictures and videos. 太好了!

The other memorable aspect of the list was Find some traditional Chinese clothing and take a picture of one of your group members wearing it. Well, we walked all the way up and down East Nanjing Road, from the Bund to People’s square, and could not find any place selling traditional style clothing. The closest we came was a souvenir shop featuring two young women out front dressed in more traditional attire for the purpose of attracting people to the shop. Well, seeing as we were out of options, I mustered my courage and the conversation went a little something like this as my fellow Americans cowered in embarrassment for me:

我: (Gesturing to the girl’s blue dress)”请问,我们找这个。我们在哪里可以买。”Excuse me, we are looking for this. Where can we buy one?

她:(The girl and her friend talk rapidly amongst themselves, then say to me)” 没有…sjflkdsjflksdkdsjgl” Don’t have…..

我美国同学: (After translating for my American friends, they say) “Tell her we’re on a scavenger hunt”

我: (I, having no idea how to say that, say) 我要这个一下因为(and hopelessly, I show her the paper.) I need this a little bit because…..

她:哦哦, 我懂。。。sjldkfjsdlkjfsldkjglskdjf. Oh, Oh, I understand. (She turns to her friend, says something I can’t even try to transcribe here because I was so lost, and then she calls to an employee across the way). 他可以。。。。lksjfskldjflsdkjf….吗?Can she…….? (That employee calls out something to the back of the store that I also didn’t catch. A man appears, says something I again don’t catch, and nods. Now the girl has her attention back on me and gestures to her blue dress). 我们没有…的,(gesturing to the other girls red dress)只有红的. We don’t have this kind, we only have the red one.

我: 好的。Okay

她:Okay, good, come with me. (I’ll be darned, she speaks English better than I speak Chinese!)

My friends were shrieking with laughter as I was led to the back of the store by the manager and the girl with the blue dress. I was given a brand new, red, traditional Chinese skirt and blouse straight out of the pack. I’m not kidding, I literally watched them take it out of the clear plastic wrap. This people were freaking crazy nice and hospitable. Who goes this far out of their way to help a couple of college kids on a scavenger hunt?

I was given privacy to change and I’ll be honest, despite the fact that I’ve lost a fair bit of weight since I’ve been here (gotta love super healthy Chinese food and walking around a bunch), Chinese women are so small that I almost didn’t fit into the thing. It didn’t help that I was incredibly sweaty since it was roughly 30 decrees Celsius outside (90 degrees Fahrenheit). Somehow, I managed to squeeze into the thing, and I got a nice little picture in my traditional clothes, with my fabulous helper. Just another example of Chinese people being unfathomably nice.

Now that I’m back in the dorm, I’m still working on that essay. Yay for the study part in Study Abroad. The writing and researching have both been super slow, particularly since my DoIt VPN really hasn’t been working and the internet here has been so bad!

I leave China a week from tomorrow. I’m going to miss it so much, particularly ECNU and the people I’ve met here. It’s crazy looking back at my first blog and seeing how concerned I was about being here for a whole month. Now the time has flown by and even though a lot of my friends seem ready to go home, I am most definitely not. I honestly didn’t think I could do a semester or a year abroad before I came on this trip, particularly in a country as different from the U.S. as China. But now I know, I could definitely live here for at least a year. No questions about it. Now I’m going on another abroad trip. I just need to figure out where and when. I’m also coming back to China again someday to spend at least a month in BeiJing.

Mask at Shanghai Museum
Mask at Shanghai Museum
Marriage market
Marriage market
Shanghai Museum
Shanghai Museum
Heather costume
Heather costume