Big City Dreams Along a Shang­hai Road

China Today (English) - - CHINA WATCH -

OB Sch­mitz is the China cor­re­spon­dent for Amer­i­can Pub­lic Me­dia’s ra­dio pro­gram In 2010, he set­tled in Shang­hai in a neigh­bor­hood named Sum­mit in the former French Con­ces­sion. The sur­round­ings are al­ways noisy due to the hustle and bus­tle of peo­ple in the veg­etable mar­ket, long queues of cus­tomers wait­ing out­side the

(steamed stuffed bun) house, and the old Chi­nese women, Chi­nese danc­ing in the plaza ac­com­pa­nied by loud pop mu­sic. There are also three hos­pi­tals along the road, in front of which blar­ing am­bu­lances go rush­ing by.

Two rows of Lon­don plane trees were planted ev­ery 15 feet or so in the 19th cen­tury by the French who oc­cu­pied the area at that time. The green av­enue pro­vides shade for by­standers from the scorch­ing sum­mer sun. Ev­ery day, Rob Sch­mitz rode his bi­cy­cle through this area, pass­ing in and out of ve­hi­cles and mo­tor­bikes.

For a book about China, Rob Sch­mitz looked no fur­ther than the peo­ple who live and work along the very street he lived on – Changle, the Street of Eter­nal Hap­pi­ness. Just as he said, it is im­por­tant to know about the com­mon peo­ple of China: what they are do­ing; and what are most im­por­tant for them.

For ex­am­ple, 30-year-old Chen Kai is a young en­tre­pre­neur who con­cur­rently runs an ac­cor­dion busi­ness and a sandwich shop. Chen was born in a mid­dle-class fam­ily in Hu­nan Prov­ince and learned ac­cor­dion as a child. Af­ter his grad­u­a­tion from a univer­sity in Guang­dong, Chen worked in a state-owned ac­cor­dion fac­tory for three years and then quit to go work for an Ital­ian ac­cor­dion maker from whom he learned how to make th­ese beau­ti­ful in­stru­ments. Th­ese skills helped him earn a large sum of money from sell­ing hand­made, Ital­ian brand ac­cor­dions. How­ever, Chen Kai was not sat­is­fied with his life, for his in­ter­ests were nei­ther play­ing nor mak­ing ac­cor­dions. With ac­cu­mu­lated funds and sup­ports from friends, he in­stead opened a sandwich shop on the Street of Eter­nal Hap­pi­ness.

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