DVD players in aisle 4

Today we left China for a few hours. We hopped on the subway to the south side of town, and then took a short cab ride to the outskirts of the city. The further away we went, the closer we started feeling to life back home in America.

We passed car dealerships, large sporting goods stores, and even an IKEA home furnishings store. Our destination: Metro – the most comprehensive import store in Nanjing. It had taken us a year, but we were finally ready for the pilgrimage.

Metro is a membership exclusive store, requiring registration like a Costco or Sam’s store. Unless you’re a foreigner. They must presume our kind has good money to spend, so we are welcomed with a visitor’s pass each time we come. The sight that met us inside – flat screen TV’s, treadmills, slow cookers, English ales, avocados! – sent us running from aisle to aisle, dreaming of the kind of life we could create here if only we had unlimited means. We picked up only a few necessities instead, some baby wash for Leo, baking powder, walnuts, and imported milk. But we dreamed about outfitting our kitchen with a toaster, steel pots and pans, and Henckels cutlery, and buying enough avocados to make guacamole.

The experience on the one hand was one of relief. We can get so many things here to which we were accustomed back home. But on the other hand, the question nowadays keeps presenting itself to us: did we come to China to live similarly to life back home? After all, this really isn’t the China we came here expecting. Did we get here too late for that? Did we miss that China?

No- it’s still all around us, on every street corner, in every factory, in 90% of the lives of this city’s residents. They don’t have the means to live with the new affluence. But we ourselves, through strategic maneuvering, could choose to live there and avoid the reality of a harder life. Just being American gives us that choice here. It doesn’t seem quite fair, but the choice is there all the same.

For now, we will forego the IKEA bedroom set, the tilapia fillets, and the guacamole. Fried rice will suffice for lunch, and we’ll enjoy having the chance to listen to the chef’s slurred Mandarin while we hear about his family back home in the country.


1 Response to “DVD players in aisle 4”

  1. 1 Becca G. January 31, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah. Just a reminder…avacados ARE a necessity. I know, I know. You’ve been out of the country…I just didn’t think you’d go out of your minds. ;o) (I’ll make guaacamole and slur to you about my family who is eating fried rice for lunch RIGHT NOW as we are talking about you.) Love ya!

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January 2009
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