Capitalism 2.0

In the world I walk around in this week, change is key. In the markets things that did not exist one year ago are being sold (like digital photo frames that show your pics from a USB memory), old buildings can from one day to the next have been cleared down to make space for brand new, exciting arcitechture - often 10 or 20 times taller. Shops that are not profitable close after a week or two, the club that was in last month is most likely not the place to be tomorrow night. The feel is wonderfully capitalistic-optimistic and today as I walked in to the Shanghai Museum of Urban Planning, the lady at the ticket office proudly told me that the current exhibition would tell me more about the city in 20 years time. The future is here!

The downside to the whole thing is of course the lack of environmental and..ehrm..human concerns. Of course there are many women and men as well as geographical areas that suffer when products are being quickly produced and sold for small change ("Everything 2 yuan Shops" =0.20 cent, are everywhere). Although, it might be changing. It is not easy to get information on these things here, but small signs like that organic foods are available - even if in a small scale and often imported and a well-to-do middle class is emerging, at least here in Shanghai.

Seeing this exploding growth makes me think of the information clash that probably exists since in Europe we can read every week about "The China Bubble". The headlines scream out "Sell your China papers!" and "The end for China is here!" While the concern is almost never about environment or human rights, the economy journalists worry about the "financial fragility" of the Chinese market. Coincidently, a Swedish finance guy I met in a fancy club at The Bund - the Shanghai see shore and business centre since a decade - said that "with the Olympic Games in Beijing next year and the World Expo in Shanghai 2010, people would be crazy to listen to those who predict a soon-to-come downfall of the Chinese market".

Well, if I would trust the vibe I've gotten here in Shanghai over this first week and that handsome financeman, I'd buy into Chinese stocks. Although, my money will more likely be spent on a last minue trip to Beijing tomorrow where I'll look for further capitalism clues.

Snapshots of Shanghai

Pet rabbits for sale, a stop with a private driver at Starbucks, a sweet smell of jasmine, an old lady stretching her leg on the street (almost straight up!), a loud argument in a local restaurant that seemed to be about a dumpling, people at the view point by the famous Shanghai skyline looking at rubber toys being sold on the pavement instead of the amazing architecture, orchids, a policeman telling an old lady to get of her bike, a Turkish business man struggling with his English, five toddlers playing on a balcony overlooking the pretty French Concession area, flowerpots hanging from the sides of the motorway, and me holding a map - something I rarely do, since I hate being obvious about my un-belonging, but in this case its too clear I am new to it all. I'm guessing I can be seen around town with a map tomorrow too!

On Closeness

Sitting in a comfy chair looking out over a grayish blue ocean. The horizon is blurred, the sky is cloudy and there is rain in the air.

Today is my last but one day on the island and it has been a truly delightful experience to reconnect with my previous home, paths I used to walk, friends from the school days and marvellous dinners created by my own parents. I have been telling stories from Ghana and in formulating my new life in the south my Ghanaian relationships and realities seem surprisingly close. Close to this - very different - life in Sweden.

In the picture Sakko is sitting where I am sitting now.

Home Safe Home

Looking at Sweden with African eyes, it looks empty, clean and wholesome, almost too orderly. I am not saying the Ghanaian open gutters, crowded streets and littered beaches are better, but what Sweden strives for, and indeed has come pretty close to, seems to be perfection. If there is such a thing as a too secure society, I think it looks something like Sweden.

In Ghana I get upset with how few people use seatbelts, even though everybody know someone who was involved in a traffic accident. I get sad when I think of all the unwanted and uncatered for children. But Ghana is also a place where it seems to be part of the calculation of life that bad things can happen. There is so to speak a preparedness. An African friend living in Sweden told me about how a collegue's parent died and noone at the work place did anything which shocked my friend. She said, it is like people in Sweden think there's a way to avoid death.

Maybe we Swedes need to invent a better engineered helmet and pass a law that it is to be used at all times, or maybe we should just relax and enjoy the ride though our clean and wholesome kingdom.

Rain in Uppsala

This week, I have moved my physical self to Sweden and am currently experiencing the october drizzle in Uppsala.

But in the pic the sky is blue.
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