The other day I was taking the bus “home” and I was walking with my handbag on one shoulder, and two items I had just purchased in my other hand. Of course various thoughts started running through my mind (I mean what else is there to do if you take public transportation by yourself and if you don’t have music blaring in your ears) and that’s when it hit me – I was walking around with groceries in my hand…in my hand! That’s definitely something that I have adapted since coming to Beijing, but it doesn’t just stop there, oh no. So here is my list of 7 things I realized that I no longer need since I’ve moved to Beijing:
1. A (Black) Scandal Bag
Since the Olympics in 2008, the government made it compulsory to pay for plastic bags at the supermarket (markets give free plastics). Most times when I go to the store, if I plan to buy a lot, I bring my own cloth bag, back pack, wheelie bag or old plastic bags. But what about those times when I happen to be out and feel the sudden urge to buy bread and toothpaste? That’s right, I carry them in my hands.
The first time I did it, it felt weird. I felt like everyone was judging me, and I don’t think I’ve ever walked so fast back to my room before. But, the more I did it, the more liberating it was. Who needs that constricting plastic bag? Oh and about the Black Scandal Bag that is so loved in Jamaica, I haven’t seen one since I’ve been in China. You don’t want people to see what you’re going to have for dinner tonight? Buy 2 bags and layer them.
2. An Umbrella
I blame the rain that falls in Beijing for this one. The rain that falls here is always so light, or if it’s heavy rain, it falls for an hour or 2 and then stops. Well…one night, I learned my lesson. I decided to go out riding on my new bicycle. I had my route all planned out and everything…then halfway there, out of the blue it started to pour, and it poured and it poured. Of course I never got where I was going I just ended up being soaked from head to toe and in the company of a very enthusiastic Chinese Man.
Ok, so there is need for an umbrella, but I’ve already been through all of that, I feel like it’s optional.
3. A Receipt
I think this is more or less the same as it is in Jamaica. It’s just that in some stores, such as my school’s supermarket, they will print the receipt and then just throw it on the counter, even if you are standing right there. Some people don’t even actually bother printing the receipt. And I’m not talking about stores with no cash registers, I’m talking about stores with technology to help them register cash. Most times I don’t bother asking for it either since I’ll probably just throw them in the next trash bin anyway.
4. Knife and Fork
Before I came to China, I bought a set of utensils. At the time I thought, “There are chopsticks everywhere in China. I bet I’ll get tired of using them. I’ll buy a set of utensils so I can steal away to my room and take a break from these crazy chopstick using people.” Long story short, I lost both my knife and fork (maybe separately I don’t know) and I only noticed when I started cooking again and need to…prick something with a fork maybe? I don’t know beats me.
5. Cold Water
This refers to cold drinking water. I don’t have a fridge in my room, so there’s nowhere to cool the water before I drink it. The water dispensers only give out hot or room temperature water. If I want cold water, I have to buy it from the shop at the East Gate of my school. I’ve gotten used to it, but really, I have to drink twice the amount of room temperature water because nothing is quite as refreshing as ice cold water.
I have a little flat screen TV in my room and it’s been unplugged for about half a year now. When I just started to learn Chinese (Mandarin), I was all up on the TV, no matter how painfully boring it was. Then it dawned on me, I don’t have to suffer through boring and excessively dramatic TV programs, I can find shows/movies onlline. Since then, even though the TVs plug and the wall socket are neighbours, I don’t think they speak anymore.
7. A Kitchen Sink
My bathroom sink has replaced my kitchen sink. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I don’t use the sink for hygiene purposes and for dish washing purposes at the same time, so it’s fine. You should try it, you’d be amazed at how sparkly clean things can get in the bathroom, especially with a mirror right in front to you that you can use to admire your work.
I’m sure there are a few more things that I thought I couldn’t do without, but which I am. But perhaps it will take another bus ride and some serious observation to pick them up.