When I was a kid, my Chinese tutor who came from Shanghai tried to explain the expression “ren shan ren hai” using Nanjing Lu as an example. As a ten-year old bored with Chinese lessons, I imagined a sea of tiny heads bobbing along a little street in China and thought it was funny.
As I stood in Nanjing Lu this weekend and stared in awe and a little horror, at the thousands upon thousands of bodies jostling for space on that little street in China – all walking, pushing, shoving, coughing, yelling, spitting – I finally understood the meaning of “ren shan ren hai“.
Yeah, we picked what was most probably the most crowded weekend in China to visit but the trip was fun. I haven’t visited Shanghai in more than 10 years and was impressed by how rapidly it has developed as a city. Shanghai is now a cosmopolitan city that buzzes with towering skyscrappers, shopping malls and fine dining. Yet it still retains pockets of the old which makes exploring the city an interesting experience.
While the city has developed, the people … not quite. We had to endure constant queue cutting, spitting, peeing, pushing and shoving on the roads, in the malls and on the subway. Since glaring and long, hard stares got us nowhere, we decided to give back … just a little. So we used our elbows to jab the stomachs of people who came too close and we rudely shoved a couple of fellas out of our way. They didn’t even notice. Hrmp!