The “Street of Eternal Happiness” is a book set in Shanghai, and written by fellow Minnesotan Rob Schmitz,
This book really spoke to me. I enjoyed it so much I would recommend it to everyone, especially all westerners who are living in Shanghai.
The book includes excellent historical details on China, Shanghai in particular, and the ever-evolving culture. I’ve heard from many people how much Shanghai has changed, and is still changing, but I hadn’t really considered the impact that change has on cultural differences until I read the book.
Rob compared Shanghai to NYC, and how “raw” NYC still was over a hundred years ago.
Between reading the book, and thinking about Rob’s descriptions of Shanghai and its people, and having lived here now for a couple of months, I have found that my attitudes have definitely softened.
The first subway opened in NYC in 1904. The first subway line opened in Shanghai in 1994, and the system grew quickly. Average weekday ridership in NYC was just under 6 million in 2016. Average ridership in Shanghai is 10 million per day. Subway etiquette is still evolving in Shanghai. There is lots of pushing and shoving here, and I try to set a good example, not that anyone is paying any attention to me. I am often the only person who isn’t on their phone.
Shanghai is…”the most populated city of the most populated country on the planet” and I have discovered that patience goes a long way towards harmony with my neighbors.
My favorite part of the book are the stories of people who lived and/or worked on the Street of Eternal Happiness, currently known as Changle Lu. Living in a city with more than 24 million other people means that I will only ever know a very, very small percentage of the population. And, since my knowledge of the language isn’t good, right now I have very little chance of really getting to know my neighbors. Rob got to know several families on the street, and did a great job of sharing their stories.
It was also a good reminder that we all do have a story.
My story right now is in Shanghai, and it is still evolving. Thanks for joining me on this journey!