Archive | July, 2012

Dog control

18 Jul

I have mentioned in a previous post how mad Shanghainese are about their dogs (see link to Bésame mucho…). They definitely are no dog eaters. They pamper them and are extremely conscious about their wellbeing. In winter, they make them wear warm outfits as well as shoes. In summer, they change the warm clothes for lace ones. They also like to accessorise them: dogs get to wear earrings, have their hair died (more than one colour please), as well as fake colour nails put on their paws! On my street, there’s an especially dedicated beauty parlour for dogs. No other pets allowed. It’s really amazing and I for one certainly have a blast witnessing all of this and trying to capture it with my camera.

Dog beauty parlour on Taixing Road

Shoes and lace!

Well groomed

Her name was Wang Wang

The trouble is that their love for dogs has become excessive. And any phenomenon or habit that starts to be adopted by too many people in Shanghai or China is likely to become problematic for society at large, just because of the sheer mass of people in this city (23 million officially, 30 million I heard if you factor in all the “clandestine” dwellers, foreigners included) and the country. So dogs have become a problem in Shanghai. There are simply too many in the city and this is posing real hygiene problems on the streets due to all the dog shit. I have seen many Chinese picking up their dog’s poop from the pavement but I don’t think the majority of dog owners do it. As in Paris, you have to be very careful when walking in residential neighbourhoods. I’ve unfortunately stepped at least once in dog shit too.

Dog shit all over

To address the problem, in 2011, the municipality of Shanghai adopted the single dog policy which, as its name indicates, limits the ownership of dogs to one per family. According to the French newspaper Libération, in 2010, the number of dogs in the city had reached 800,000, only 25% of which were licensed. Other sources quote other figures. Today there must be at least 1 million. Prior to this law, if you owned more than one dog and if they were all duly licensed, you could keep them. In Guangzhou however, you had to get rid of all your dogs but one.

If they’ve done it for kids over 30 years ago, I personally don’t find it that shocking when it comes to pets. However, I did find it hilarious that they duplicated the single child’s policy for dogs! You can see that, in their own way, they’re equally spoilt. Children are dubbed “little emperors”, I don’t know if dogs have a nickname too. I also wondered about the fairness of the policy. Had they put in too many restrictions regarding dog licensing and health monitoring, the policies would’ve been criticised as being in favour of rich people who would be the only ones to afford to have a dog. With the single dog policy, everybody’s entitled to one toy.

Walking the dogs in a pram!

Heat and humiliation

8 Jul

When I left Shanghai end of May, the weather was warm, occasionally verging on hot. When I came back a few days ago, there was no more room for thermal ambiguity. It is now properly HOT! Tài rè le!!! Too hot! The temperatures, announced on TV and the net as low 30s, are really in the mid and high 30s. That would be barely bearable on its own, but you have to factor in very high levels of humidity. So high I don’t want to know how much. Look it up for yourself. All I know is that the first breath of non-conditioned air at the airport felt like I was mutating into a fish. It was like breathing water…

The few first days after my return, I didn’t go out much. The sun, which apparently had not shown its face for a while, was scorching. If there was any wind, it was really hot, like blow drying your hair. So all I did were small excursions to run errands and went back inside, turning on and off the air-conditioning.

Two days ago we had a really strong shower, throwing a depressive atmosphere over the city. It was weird to go out. So hot you didn’t feel like putting on any additional clothes than what minimal decency requires from you. It was also a first for me, heavy rain and heat, summer clothes with flip-flops and umbrella, being both sweaty and drenched. See, in Lebanon, it practically never rains in summer. Maybe once every 5 years. So I guess for as long as I live and in spite of 5 consecutive rubbish English summers, summer and sun will always go together for me.

Now I don’t want to sound like I am complaining. I really wouldn’t dare to, when I know what people who aren’t as fortunate to have their flat fitted with 4 air-conditioning units have to endure. Or those who have to take the tube everyday or those who have to wear suits and visit chemical factories. A friend fainted in the tube during her morning commute, the doctor said she was quite dehydrated. And my boyfriend came back from a day’s factory visit in the worst mood he is capable of, feeling sweaty and dirty under his shirt and suit. To sum it up, as my friend C., a long term resident of Shanghai and Guangzhou before that, says: “In Shanghai, there is no other way. During the summer season, you will be humiliated.”

Integral sun glasses

Clever dog: lying down right under the air-conditioning unit

Men’s coping strategy to handle the heat: rolling their shirt or t-shirt up and exposing their bellies. Not the best example but will strive to find a better one.

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