January 12th, 2020

mom walk

It has begun

The annual exodus from Shenzhen is upon us. This week, my local fruit shop shut down. The closest 川湘小厨 Sichuan/Hunan little kitchen has also closed down. The guokui guy downstairs who i buy naan from two or three days a week is gone. All through the village more and more shops are closing up for the new year.

It's always a crapshoot which shops will reopen. Most of them have signs saying they'll be back in February, but you never know for sure until they do come back. I like to imagine that the owners went home for the new year and struck gold. In reality they probably talked to their families and realized that trying to run a small business in an urban village that is always at risk of being demolished is a less rewarding life than subsistence farming.

Then again, from the few people i talk to who actually did spent their childhood knee-deep in the paddies, they say pretty much anything is a better life than that.

Officially the Chinese New Year break doesn't start for another 2 weeks. There is only 3 days of official holiday and 2 days of shuffled-around weekend to create a Golden Week. Most white collar Chinese use annual leave to stretch it out to a two week block, but migrant workers don't have salaried jobs so they just go for as long as they can afford.

It's only during Chinese New Year that you realize just how few people in Shenzhen have family roots in Shenzhen. There is no lion dance, no lanterns, no any kind of celebration here. The city becomes a ghost town.

But before it becomes a ghost town, i am flying to London for like 3 days. What i am most looking forward to is eating real vegan food. What i am not looking forward to is lining up for 2 hours to get a table, or paying 20£ for a burger and a pint. Since we will be out in the east end perhaps i can find a down-to-Earth chippy and a pub that has whatever the English version of Tennent's is.