Expat Freelancer: Shanghai set to close for 3 months

Being quiet and classy often depicts confidence, while being loud and repetitive often denotes an insecure liar.

So what are we to think of those expats in China who loudly repeat how ‘great it is to be here!’ and how ‘the nightlife is really cool!’ in Shanghai?

This comes to my mind at this time of year.

These are the ‘hangers on’ – those who need Shanghai, because no where else in the World will have them. So they trick themselves into believing that any of this is a real construct of civilised humanity, rather than a large area of land, with buildings that contain fast food establishments and shops selling stuff, surrounded by roads and streets which contain insanely rude and dangerous vehicles, all whizzing round so that they can get to their destination and munch on fast food and then buy stuff.

The ‘norms’, or just ‘normal people’ have absolutely no doubt in their mind that they are here temporarily only, and will eventually leave for places where you can feel the basic respect of being a human.

These norms usually go ‘home’ at this time of year, because the city closes down and nothing really happens.

As an absolute cul de sac of efficiency and productivity, things happen here at a slower rate than they do in real cities anyway.

Despite the reputation that some love to talk about – loudly and repetitively – that ‘things move so quickly here’ and ‘you don’t have to wait around’, the reverse is true.

Decisions take so very, very long to make here because:

– any local company will need ALL decisions (ALL) to be made by The Boss. No one below The Boss will EVER want to make a decision, because no one wants to ever take responsibility. Why? Because they live in a culture of blame. Here, there are never just mistakes or accidents. Someone must always be to blame. (read the history books, friends). And The Boss? never in the office. Always on ‘trips’, having dinners and doing pretty much anything except being in situ and organising the staff or company. You know – doing anything to actually justify their salary.

– a small foreign company will always under-estimate the time that things take, because they have not enacted sound and humble financial planning. So despite their pipe dreams of having the ‘billion customers’ and their name in lights, the reality is that they begin projects and talk with staff about doing them – but then when push comes to shove, they don’t even have the money and then go cold on the idea for another 6 months.

– foreign companies that do have money will whisk around on ideas, but not have any clear and definite ones. Their local staff will give neither input nor constructive criticism of their ideas. So, surrounded by yes men or women, they will try to airily go ahead with ten different ideas, none of which have any form of structuve or cohesion.

Then, to all of these regular situations, the end of the year comes.

From November onwards, the norms go home for Christmas and then escape for Chinese New Year. Any opportunity is taken to leave, as such people realise that any enriching of the soul or mind is difficult to do in this city.

Those that subconsciously enjoy digression, ineffiency and lack of decision-making will have even more trips, dinners and ‘events’ to deal with – and therefore surely cannot be expected to do anything at all until “after Chinese New Year”, right?

There is good news though.

From around December, the city gets less, and less, and less busy, until for about 3 good weeks around CNY, the roads are freer and quieter and it finally feels as though there is a bit of space.

And who am I to suggest that the population numbers of central Shanghai could be finally regulated in some way?

For further reading, you could read about the new ‘cities’ that are being built up from now on (until 2030 whey they are ‘finished), such as Jinshan, Songjiang and such. At least this area of land is huge enough to allow the construction of new cities, which should hopefully increase – or rather initiate – organisation and a human society. Maybe then, the hangers on can eventually be proven right and their promises and claims of the “great day life and night life” of Shanghai will finally come to fruition.




Categories: Expat Life, Work


Foreigner in Shanghai


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  1. Merry Christmas! Caption competition too. | Developing City - December 22, 2012

    […] It’s probably a good time to take a Christmas, sorry seasonal break. Not because any of us are doing anything special, only because it is ‘a la mode’ to look as though we are terribly busy partying, having fun and being too popular to do any work for the next two months. (as Shanghai closes for the Winter) […]

  2. Be Featured on Shanghai’s expat blog: Developing City | Developing City - October 5, 2013

    […] There has been a short lull in production for this week as Shanghai closes for a while. […]

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