Today I went to the supermarket, which is not interesting in itself except that it is 4 days before Spring Festival/Chinese New Year. So it's kind of like going to the mall 4 days before Christmas, except the people are all Chinese and there's a thousand more of them. I'm terrible at numbers estimation, but the store is packed. I would say a thousand is a conservative estimate. There are probably a couple hundred just in the produce/meat section. I knew it would be pretty crazy, so I decided to bring Juliana along. She's been cooped up in the house too much, and she enjoys crowds more than I do.
Outside the weather is actually starting to get warmer already. It's probably high 20's (F). Balmy. Juliana and I walk to the supermarket because it is just around the corner, not more than 10 minutes away. Well, technically she walks the first 100 yards and then I push her in the stroller. Outside the store, rows of sellers are lined up with tables covered in colorful fireworks boxes.
People are already buying up fireworks and “testing” them every day in preparation for The Mother Of All Fireworks Days. This is nothing like the 4th of July or New Years in America. China is serious about its fireworks.
Usually I check the stroller and transfer Juliana to a cart, but today I decide to stick with the stroller and a basket, since I don't have much to buy. It's a good decision as all the carts are already taken. I see a lot of laden carts but don't actually pay much attention to what everyone is buying. I am too occupied with trying to maneuver the stroller through the crowds. Juliana gets lots of extra attention, questions, and touches. The store seems to be manned with about a hundred extra workers offering samples and hawking their goods; each aisle seems to have at least two of them.
I don't have much to buy but by the time I get to the checkout (all the lanes are open and the lines are full), Juliana is getting antsy. Several people try to cut in front of me and I give them the old “basket to the side.” I am unwilling to give an inch, pushing the stroller up to about 3mm from the lady's feet in front of us. When I first came to China I was disturbed by all the pushing and people standing 3cm from me in line. I have since learned if there is more than 6 in between you and the person in front of you, it is grounds for someone to break in front of you. I have also become adept at pushing.
Juliana starts fussing, not outright wailing, but definitely making her impatience known. Instead of giving dirty looks, the people around try to distract her; they hate to see a child upset, especially a cute foreign one. The family ahead of us tells me to go in front of them since the baby is tired. I am very appreciative. People in this country a great about children.
We break free of the store and head back home, managing to avoid being hit by anything as we forge our way across the streets. I really am more careful when I'm with Juliana, but really, everyone stands in the middle of the road. Home again, home again: no more shopping again until after the holiday!