No More Chicken on Handlebars
nI1984, my wife and I were living in Kaifeng, China. On a trip to Shanghai, we saw a bustling city, yet China was known as a rural country. Gazing across Shanghai’s opal-grey Huangpu River, we saw rice fields. Today, the water reflects the fireworks and Christmas lights of multiple Manhattans. Back then, the airport was claustrophobic and oppressively hot. In 2006, the Shanghai airport was immaculate and air-conditioned. The big cities of the China we knew in 1984 were framed by imperious, inaccessible Soviet-bloc style monoliths. Now, it’s a queue of glass and steel tributes to Ayn Rand. Before, average citizens wore maintenance-man blue. Today, it’s high fashion. In 1984, we were the object of baffled stares. Today, foreigners rarely elicit a glance.