06/13/2008 - 06/13/2008
Lin and her mom dropped by about on Tuesday.
Lin and her mother had arrived in Wuhan less than a week ago, her dad was back in Guangzhou.
On Thursday morning (June 12), Z and I went over to Lin's parents' apartment, just a couple blocks from us in Village 1 of Changqing Garden. We'd never seen the apartment, and actually, Lin had never seen it either before this week. Actually it's two apartments, one on the fourth floor and the second one directly above it. They had been planning on connecting them with a stairway, but now that plan is on hold for now, because Village 1 might be demolished.
Village 1 was the first one to be built at Changqing Garden, and its buildings are only 6 stories tall, the lowest density of the entire development. The property values have risen sharply since these first apartments were built (apartment prices have more than tripled), and the developer is asking the owners in Village 1 to allow him to tear down the buildings and build new, taller ones. If more than 50% of the owners agree, then everyone will have to move out for some time (a year?) while the new buildings are built. Apartment owners would get equivalent-sized new apartments in the new buildings. The only advantage to them is to have newer apartments, with upgraded facilities (although maybe still unfinished?). The big disadvantage to them, as I see it, is the increased density itself -- more noise, more people outside in the green space competing for benches and laundry lines, fuller garbage cans, more cars (with the paucity of parking, this is a real issue), etc. The residents must realize those consequences, but they are probably harder to quantify than the more concrete upgrades to their apartments.
Anyway, Lin's parents' two apartments are nicely finished and furnished, by Chinese standards. They use the upstairs apartment with two bedrooms for sleeping, bathing, etc. It includes a free-standing enclosed shower, which I've not seen in China before, with its own lights, fan, and yes, a radio to listen to while showering. The downstairs apartment's two bedrooms have been converted: one into an expanded kitchen and dining area, the other into an office. It also has a wide balcony facing south (enough for several benches and chairs), while the upstairs apartment has only a narrow one. They had planned to erect stairs on the lower balcony to reach upstairs, but traffic would have to pass through Lin's bedroom. The downstairs living room has the big flat-screen TV.
Lin showed me her yearbook, in which each senior (there are 24 this year) gets their own page. Hers was first, she said, because the editor thought it was the best-looking. It is covered with photos, so many, in fact, that she didn't have room to put any quotation or other text. It's a testament to how well she made friends at Olney. She's going to Drexel in the fall, and one of her best friends Denise will also be going there. They won't be living together, though.
After forty-five minutes or so, our ride arrived: Lin's mother's younger sister. She looks about 34, but is actually 40 years old. She works for the police, in a financial crimes investigative unit. We went downstairs and climbed into the Citroen. First stop was breakfast, and we were hungry (as it was nearly 10am). We went to a street-side restaurant that specializes in beef noodle. It was actually large by the standards of such a shop, and the interior was so warm that half its patrons sat on stools moved out to the sidewalk to eat. We got 5 bowls of the works (including beef, beef tripe, and beef ), and Lin's aunt retrieved two bowls of sao mai from a few doors down.