Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Lookin' for love in People's Square

Coi pond in People's Square
Not far from the Shanghai Museum (admission gratis!) in the Huangpu district is an urban park known as People's Square. In addition to being the site of the headquarters of Shanghai's municipal government, People's Square is also a recreational area and an amusement park.

On Tuesday, after a rewarding morning in the museum (more about that in a future post) we wandered through the park on a pleasant, relatively smog-free day. It was the second day of China's three-day May Day celebration and the park was full of vacationing Chinese.

Proud papa makes a pitch for Junior
On one stretch of paved walkway that snaked along the edge of a coi-filled pond, we came upon what is known among Shanghai residents as the match-making market.

Eligible young woman
All along the path, paper flyers announce the statistics (name, age, height, weight, profession, languages-spoken, and so on) of eligible young Chinese. The idea is that parents or grandparents worried that life might be passing young Bao-yu by, can put together a data sheet and hang it on this public "bulletin board" where it might be seen by other parents or grandparents with similar concerns for Meng-yao.

Wait a minute... how'd this guy get in there?
It seems a strange way, to our Western sensibilities, to establish to a domestic arrangement. But really, it is our modern method that is the historical anomaly. Most marriages in the world, even today, are arranged by family quite apart from the sentiments of the principles.

Swapping info. Could we be looking at future in-laws?
Does it work? I guess that would depend on what one means by "work." But we all know that the American courtship process, where star-struck youngsters get hitched out of love is positively foolproof, eh? (Cough, cough.)
Noodle stand
Besides, in China, even if you're one in a million, there are still a thousand others just like you.

Bunnies for sale
Just like life: goes up slow, comes down fast

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