“Good Horse Gardens”

Posted by Bao on Saturday, January 7th, 2006
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The apartment complex that Kelly and her parents live in has a name, which translates into something along the lines of Good Horse Gardens. Directly across the street is a humongous lot filled with stacks upon stacks of shipping containers, large rectangular metal shoeboxes colored pumpkin orange, red and dull blue. These boxes form a wall about a block long, about ten stories high, and stretch back as far as the eye can see. The giant steel cargo boxes filled with Chinese made products will be crane lifted onto oceanic freighters and shipped to all corners of the globe. Looking at the massive wall of metal containers, I think to myself that a graffiti artist would drool at the chance to throw up a burner across that giant canvas, the mural of all spray painted murals across the dull square metal faces of those shipping containers, the ultimate urban masterpiece a block long and 10 stories high.

Kelly’s parents are welcoming and honest. The family was forced to relocate here but they insist that they are happier, their former place was old and tiny and lacked a bathroom. Their new space is spacious by comparison, and Kelly points out a small wall that they arranged in accordance to the Feng Shui rules of three things good to see as soon as you open the door: the color red, flowers, and paintings. I talk to her parents about America, Mao, Tibet and the one-child rule. Kelly’s mom insists that, in her opinion, women in China are not lesser than men and declares that she is the boss of the family, and Kelly laughs and confirms that’s the way it is in Asian cultures. I am surprised to learn that they have all heard of Wen Ho Lee and they insist that what happened to him constitute racial discrimination. Since many of the people we have talked to offer nothing but glowing praise for the U.S., it’s interesting and affirming to talk to people who are critical, especially concerning issues of race. Both parents also insist that any ‘help’ that comes from the U.S. must be positive in order for the ‘help’ to be constructive, and they are very critical of the U.S.’s involvement in situations like Taiwan. Kelly’s mother adds that the U.S. seems to want to act like global police and are always up in everybody’s business all the time.

I was relieved and grateful to have such an engaging and honest discussion with them. Especially since they insisted, as almost every person we spoke to in Shanghai whether selected by us or randomly chosen from the street, that the U.S. is engaged in an unjust war and that Americans have a responsibility for peace. Word up. Maybe there is hope for this world after all.

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