Friday, June 26, 2009

Why I don't want to open my windows

Discussing Suzhou's air quality with my landlord:

"But Jonna, why don't you open your windows to let in some fresh air?"

"Because there is no fresh air out there!"

"Sure it is! It's really fresh and good! And fresh air is good for you! Good for your health!"

"Yeah but this air is not good for my health. Look at the sky, it's all gray?! There's no fresh air."

"It's not gray.. it's just... foggy!"

"Fog, huh?"

Unfortunately, I don't know how to say the word "smog" in Chinese so the conversation ended there.

Anyways, the air is as it is. Nothing to whine about when you've chosen to live here. Although I cannot help but feeling a tiny little bit happy about the fact that I am, from today onwards, exchanging this:

....for this for the next 2 months. I'm off to Finland to do a 2 month summer vacancy at a company. Like my landlord said, there's nothing like a real, fresh breath of air!

(ps. I'll be blogging as usual from Finland... once I'm off the jet lag)


Emmy said...

Have a safe trip! And yeah that is disgusting!

Anonymous said...

Ha! This is another interesting cultural differences (differences in terms of different standards of fresh air). I was in China last summer and experienced something similar with clean air and green grass. A little patch of green grass in China is considered a big thing. I was treated with puzzling stares when I made an innocent comment like "China has grown so much, but I wish the air weren's as bad and people could use more space of green grass near their residence." To them, the air is fine. And the little patches of green grass are more than enough for a healthy living environment. Worse yet, I was told that poor people in America (where I live) had to live in boxes and died in the snow. To think that we were classmates and sharing the same dorm 20 years ago, their reaction was certainly not friendly. Your landlord was polite to you maybe because you are a laowai. I, being a Chinese, have been getting pretty much hostile responses from Chinese friends if I dare say anything negative about China, including the weather, air or grass.

Magnus said...

hilarious. So true. Your posts are very visual. Sounds like a Monty Python bit. Funny!

Brad Farless said...

Wow. And I used to think the smog in NYC was bad. That stuff is horrid. No wonder you don't want to open your windows. I wouldn't either.

Will you still be paying rent at your place in Suzhou while you're in Finland or did you put your stuff in storage? Are you going solo? Or will your man be staying in Suzhou?

That pic of Finland looks really lovely by the way.

Little Tiger said...

yayyy, SHE in Suomi!!! :)

Pete In Syracuse said...

I'm with you THAT'S SMOG & wow look at that bright sky of Finland!

Sara said...

Will it be a personal blog about Finland or China, then? :-D

Nino said...

Glad you will be blogging like usual :) I wonder if those 2 months in the pure nature of Finland will make you want to return to Europe. I mean, it's almost as Sweden :) Do you get homesick at all?

Ramesh said...

Have a great time in Finland Jonna. And come back soon... !

Tarja said...

Good for us =) We are breathing the fresh air starting from tuesday. Can't wait!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Emmy -thanks!! And yeah.. it is!

Anonymous: Yeah well I kind of understand why they consider the air to be 'OK!' because most of them have never travelled anywhere else and therefore have nothing to compare with... It's not only in China the air is bad, many other countries suffer from the same, and it's not an insult to China to say the air is bad (after all, it a result of all the industries -local as well as western). Shame that a lot of people take it so 'personal' but I guess that's because they are a bit patriotic. A lot of people from all over the world are the same.

Magnus -yeah I should try to post more video clips. They r fun.

Brad F -I am going solo, my bf is staying in Suzhou to work... So the flat in Suzhou will still be in use. As for Finland, we still have our flat here so it's kind of like 'coming home' to where I used to live 3 years ago, even though it's not really my 'real' home.. Gosh, knows what it nowadays?!?! More beautiful Finland pix to come :)

Little tiger -hahaha, SHE in Suomi!! :) Kiitos!

Pete- yeah, it sure ain't fog!

Sara -since I will be working for a Chinese company here in Finland (making radio shows and new stories about China) I think I will be blogging about both China and Finland... or whatever comes to my mind. I guess we'll see :)

Nino -although the summers in Scandinavia are magical, the winter is the pure opposite! During summer, the sun doesn't set until 11pm at night and it rises really early, like 4 am. But during winter, it is the pure opposite: sun rises maybe around 8-9am and then sets again at 4pm.. so some days (if you're working inside an office with few windows) you don't even see the sunlight! Awful!! The winters here are also real cold, and kind of depressing.. so yeah, I do miss Scandinavia during spring and summer man maybe early fall, but during the long, cold, depressing winter...? No thanks!!!

I do get homesick of course.. I miss my friends and family like crazy at times (and especially lately since one of my sisters recently had a baby that I haven't even seen!) but I've been living abroad for so many years now (8 in total) that I've gotten used to it. And so have they, in a weird sort of way. Most have actually stopped asking 'when' I am coming home, nowadays it's more like 'Will u ever even live in Europe?!'

Ramesh -thanks! Won't be back soon, but eventually!

Tarja -ahhh, so soon, soon. It's gorgeous over here right now, 28 degrees and sunshine, summer has definitely arrived!

Anonymous said...

That is so true that most of the chinese people have not traveled anywhere to see actual fresh clean air. The do tend to think that their smog is actually fog though. I remember when my good friend Ji Yi went to Bali with me and when she stepped of the plane she said "wow, everything is so bright and crisp" she had never scene the world without smog in it. She had been in Nanjing all her life. Once again, thanks for your witty writing it always makes my day. Becky

WoAi said...

Jonna take your landlord on a trip to Scandinavia and I think she will finally understand what fresh air is! Even London is 1000 times better than Shanghai (air quality I mean, not a lot else, LOL).

Oh so nice to read your blog WITHOUT a proxy!

MJF said...

Actually, if you live in eastern china or in Chongqing, its likely that some of the so called smog are really fog, it have always been like this, even before recent decades development and car increase. Chongqing for ex. were called the city of fog for centries.

mtl said...

ditto the whole post.
Locals always get so defensive about their air quality. Like you said, they usually say it's fog.