Waking up in China

Waking up in Hefei in China.. it’s quieter than one would expect. One thinks about China and the masses of people and thinks that morning would be noisy but its not, at least here on the campus of USTC. It’s chirpy birds – the tentative chirps of almost-spring. And then muffled firecrackers in the distance. Every event seems to start with firecrackers to chase away the evil spirits and morning starts a new project somewhere every day. And then small hammering sounds – a quick repair job or a renovation project – this is a very old campus! And then the voices of people greeting neighbors. Faculty housing is a small community of people of all ages..but a lot of very VERY old people. When they joined the university, it was a time when the employer was required to guarantee employment for life so these tiny shuffling ancients cannot and will not be compelled to leave.Besides, they have grandchildren to take care of.  Then the skooters and small motorcycles begin to purr between the residence buildings where the roads are mostly too narrow for modern cars. And then the DayCare outside my flat opens with piano music – Western music played to greet the little pumpkins in big down jacket. Often it’s the song SantaClause is Coming to Town…as if it’s a veiled threat for the kids to be good. I wonder if they know the words?  Actually one often hears Christmas music in China any time of year. I guess it sounds cheerful. In the malls, there is very seldom Chinese music and often Kenny G. Elevator music, we used to call it. And now the city outside the campus is awake with car horns and the street cleaner water-spraying truck playing It’s a Small World After All. And I open my eyes.