Next month Mario Cavolo´s book ´The Big Lie´will appear in the US, and ahead of the publication his weblog publishes excepts of his book. An ” imaginary and obviously unrealistic day in the life of a typical middle-class man living an ordinary life in Shanghai”.
Sunrise greets us once again, leading us out the door at eight a.m. from Wang’s 900-square-foot, 3-bedroom, third-floor walk-up, which rents for RMB 3,000 (US$500) per month. Mind you, that is pretty cheap, but only because Mr. Wang does not live in prime downtown Shanghai, where rent for the same type of older apartment would be closer to RMB 5,000 (US$800). Note that I did say three bedrooms, as Mr. Wang’s cousin lives in the third. This type of sharing is the rule, not the exception, in China, leading me to tell you that I estimate the average range for rent per person to be RMB 625–1,350 (US$100–200) per month.
It is a briskly paced ten-minute walk to the subway or public bus, which awaits at a cost of RMB 5 (US$0.50) for a 30–40 minute transit to work; Wang makes a five-minute breakfast pit stop along the way at one of many street vendors selling RMB 2 (US$0.25) veggie- or meat-filled steam buns or a Chinese-style fast-grilled pancake with an egg in it, along with a container of milk or soy milk at RMB 1.5 (US$0.20). He checks his watch on arrival and exclaims, “Wa! I’m running late!” so instead of walking, he hops on the back of one of the many (illegal) motorcycle taxis or tricycle carts for RMB 5 (US$0.50) to arrive at work in five minutes instead of the usual fifteen. Alternately, Wang could live it up a bit and hop a taxi to work every morning for RMB 30 (US$5). Better yet, if Wang is fortunate enough to work for one of the many regional or national-sized companies who offer shuttle bus pickup/drop-off every hour from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., the cost of his commute drops to zero. That’s quite a benefit, as a result of which Mr. Wang’s main means of transportation in his personal life is an old, rusty bicycle, which he won’t replace with a new one because a new one is more likely to be stolen—no car is necessary.
The rest of Mr. Wang´s day at Mario Cavolo´s website.
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