Baby It’s Cold Inside

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Fortunately I’m not talking about our apartment being cold. We actually seem to have one of the better insulated and properly heated apartments here in Shanghai.

What I’m talking about is what seems to be the vast majority of retail establishments here which are unheated. Not only are many unheated, they are directly open to the outdoors and often even if there are doors, the doors are left wide open so the inside temperature is the same as the outside temperature.

Over Christmas we visited art galleries and they all had their doors open except one which was heated. No surprise, we bought something there, although it was a small item. I think it was because we unconsciously wanted to linger and stay warm.

Of the two grocery stores I frequent the most, one has no doors at all (except those they pull across at night) and is open to the outside by two escalators and a set of stairs. The other store is located at the exit of the subway stop and also has no doors closing it off from the outside weather. I remember being rather puzzled by this as the weather started to get cold because I couldn’t figure out how they were going to keep the cold out. (In the summer, they just AC the outdoors!). The answer is–they don’t!

The result? All the employees are bundled up like they are working outdoors because basically–they are!

It's the coldest day of the year and her hands are probably freezing but she's still trying to get the Pepperidge Farm display looking perfect.

This poor checker really has the worst job as the cash registers are at the front, and therefore the coldest part of the store.

It didn’t really sink in until this week how many people in China work in unheated spaces all winter because it got really cold this week and suddenly the people in these establishments weren’t just wearing coats, they were wearing coats and scarves and hats and jumping around and rubbing their hands together trying to stay warm–and they were in doors. That of course is not even counting the thousands of people who work every day in all of the fruit stands and wet markets and street food stands who’s establishments are totally open to the elements. I don’t know how they stand it. But yet they seem to take the conditions with total equanimity. Most do not seem to be perturbed in the least by the fact that they are working in the cold.

Even Thursday when it was snowing out:

See! Real snow!

the Bicycle man who makes tiny bicycles from scrap metal had set up his bike on the sidewalk and was making bicycles in the snow. The CD guys were still out on the sidewalk in the rain/snow dueling it out within a few hundred yards of each other playing their same 2 songs over and over and people were stopping to buy cd’s.

The only people who seem to have changed their behavior because of the weather are the beggars–they have been in scarce supply of late.

I have a friend who teaches English to the children of migrant workers and she says their classrooms are not heated either.

Many of the scooters have been fitted with these heavy fleece lined leather "gloves" over the handle bars--pretty clever, I think.

Last week was the coldest it has been here and I was cursing myself when I was walking back from the Avocado Lady that I hadn’t had Chen shi fu drive me there. Later I girded my loins once again against the cold and went downstairs to City shop and bought a whole chicken for the first time since we moved here. They are supposedly free range chickens which is great, but there’s just been one thing that’s been holding me back from buying one before:

It comes with its head, even in fancy City shop!

Good grief, the feet were in there too!

No, I did not have Meredith give it a pedicure from her vast collection of nail polish before I hacked off it’s legs.

As you can see it truly was free range. It was the scrawniest chicken I’ve ever cooked. But it was quite delicious. I made it with lemon and garlic and rosemary and roasted it in my dutch oven in the oven.

When I get over the trauma of hacking off heads and feet, I’ll do it again.

Just what we needed to see on these bitterly cold days--thanks Kelly!

Qing says that the Chinese say Spring cold is colder than Winter cold.

The temperatures have gone up now and it has started to rain. I suppose these are our “April showers”. All the decorations have been put away from Chinese New Year, everyone has returned to work, the unending fireworks have ceased and

The elevator flowers have returned!

We didn’t have the opportunity to go to a Lantern Festival (the official end of Chinese New Year)–we only heard fireworks for 6 hours straight on Monday night–but our friend Xin in Taiwan has a wonderful description of the Lantern Festival on her blog linked on the right–check it out.

Lastly, I was so sad to hear that Whitney Houston had died today. Such a waste of such a great talent. I will always remember her most for singing the most beautiful and meaningful rendition of our national anthem in recent years and for that I hope she knew she made a difference.






About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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4 Responses to Baby It’s Cold Inside

  1. Heidi Gerth says:

    Hi Marisa-I’m getting cold just reading about the people in the shops. The chicken does look like it had been exercising-I think it looks a little like a baby ET-that doesn’t make it any more appealing.
    We just got back from the last performance of Camelot, it was a busy weekend for Tina. Tina told me Meredith was in 2 plays now-crazy time for her I’m sure.
    It is awful about Whitney Huston, you never know what people are going through.
    I can’t believe Tina is 17-I know Meredith is just a week or so away too.
    God Bless-have fun.

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