Friday, June 01, 2018

Nanjing Road East

If there's one thing the Chinese prize above all, it's family - perhaps let me rephrase, the enduring continuity of the family lineage with progeny to continue the next generation. Ye Olde Confucian way. Is it any wonder that the the symbolism of 100 children at play figures large on paintings, embroideries and other Chinese paraphernalia? The recent one-child policy might have quashed their enthusiasm a little but that doesn't stop them from trying.

So what happens if that singleton refuses to date?

A mercantile people for more than a millennia, the Chinese have always loved a good bargain with an endless need to barter for goods deep in their blood so what could they have possibly done with a single, marriageable child in their household? Why not bring out their precious goods to sell on the streets?

Or maybe a public park at the meeting place of Nanjing Road East and West?

I mean, the bashful kids obviously aren't going to sell themselves! Who better to peddle them off than the people who know them best ; their own parents?

Woman : I've got a boy.
Man : Good?
Woman : Yes. Educated and earning a good salary/
Man : I've got a girl.
Woman : How old is she?
Man : Marriageable I assure you.
Woman : Perfect.

Flesh market indeed!

Much to the horror of their children I'm sure. Though perhaps some of them are truly lovelorn and don't mind their parents giving them a helping hand in the dating milieu.

Forget about Tindr and other dating apps out there. Not since the olden days of Chinese matchmakers in Mulan would you have seen such as a sight as the People's Square Park in Shanghai with gossip gangs of elderly parents communing in the park with handheld laminated notices - or placed more discreetly on umbrellas - detailing pertinent information about their marriageable children from the usual date of birth to their more likeable personality traits.

No such eligible boys at the market - otherwise I would have packed him in the luggage. 

Walking about staring at all the notices, I'll admit to a certain ego boost when I got asked about my eligibility by a few portly matrons. Never let it be said that dressing up well benefits no one, certainly helped raise my points on the marriage mart here. Unsurprisingly few real candidates are present in the park. Very few pictures are posted on the advertisements which gives me a very peculiar idea about their looks, or lack of. Charming Calvin said they might be all be shy but I seriously wonder.

Selling points for the boys were their degrees, housing opportunities and career prospects while the girls had their age and personality on their side. Really old-fashioned China indeed and certainly not a place for the raging feminists.

Unsurprisingly the local Shanghai men are famously saleable, not only for their advantageous addresses but also their unwholesome reputation for being easily henpecked. But beware those girls over 30 as this reporter would tell you.

Oof. I'll admit those gruffly exacting parents pull no punches when they are giving their unvarnished opinions.

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