This entry was inspired by the water disappearing halfway through my shower this morning. It was one of those hair full of suds, body covered in bubbles situations. Fortunately, I had noticed that the water coming out of the pipes had been fluctuating and thus boiled a couple of kettles worth of water before jumping under the shower. Just in case. I have not always had such excellent forsight. Nope, this is the result of much running between the bathroom and the kitchen (shivering… no, make that shuddering with cold because it was snowing outside, with my hair full of suds) boiling bottled drinking water, in order to dunk my head in a bucket to rinse my hair. Glamourous it is not, but there are few ways to come out of a situation like the water being cut halfway through your shower stylishly. The point was, I was prepared. And to be honest about the background of this entry, I was pissed off. In addition to this most recent irritation, I have actually washed my hair in a bucket many times in Jinan, so there is no doubt some accumulated residual rage from last semester, which while it has dulled somewhat, it still hanging about ready to flare up anytime the water pressure drops.
Now, to be fair, it certainly isn’t just Jinan that has this problem. I have experienced water problems in Wuhan too. And in Sichuan. Now some people might say that these are provincial backwaters and the situation is different in China’s showcase cities, like Shanghai and Beijing. To this I would reply firstly that most people don’t live in these cities and, secondly, that I have had the water go off half way through pouring a bath in one of the Sofitels in Beijing. If even an five star hotel suffers such calamities, I think it is probably a nationwide problem.
I often laugh when friends talk about China being a developing country, not because it is not true, but because if you go to places like Shanghai, it is hard to believe. Huaihai Road exists in a developing country?! Then you go down a back alleyway and the label sticks. The gap is wide. Then again, I get equally amused when I see translated headlines (on huanqiu.com) from US media like Newsweek and US Today being taken out of context, talking about the ten things the US could learn from China (one of which, laughably, was the education system, which, having taught in all levels of it, I beg to differ!) and general paranoia about China being an emerging superpower and worry over waning US clout.
My question is, what is the point of all this economic muscle and millions, billions, or trillions in US debt if people’s everyday lives are disrupted by the water being cut off mid shower? Last night I went to the toilet at about 1am and noticed the water flow was good and seriously thought about washing my hair then instead of waiting for the morning. I should have. But does this mean I should set my alarm for the middle of the night every time I want to wash my hair? And frankly, I’m lucky! At least I have a bathroom in my apartment. Many don’t. At least I have a water heater. Heaps don’t have one of those either. I have a cushy life in comparison to many here. And of course one good consequence of the freaky water supply is that I now shower really quickly, thus saving water and power. But… my feeling is, the haphazardness of water and electricity, the lack of notice or explanation, it tells me that little people simply don’t matter that much. Living standards have improved enormously over the past decade or so, but this attitude towards the unwashed (haha) masses is very much present.
I guess little people don’t matter very much in most places. While this is true, I come from a relatively insignificant country on the world stage, but in the 20 years I lived there, I never had the water go off halfway through a shower. Nor in Canada, nor in Taiwan. Indeed, I think (not certain) that in all my travels, this is the only country I have had this happen. So, my final thought is: superpower my a#*e. When I can have a shower and wash my hair without the water going off halfway through, then perhaps I’ll reconsider.
Oh and to add insult to injury, when I went back to edit this (typos… that’s what happens when I type while angry) the computer went and switched itself off. Why? Fluctuating current. Chuh!