Shanghai Reflections Part 1

So I am in Shanghai, China. 7500 km away from Warsaw. In a different time zone. In a different continent. In a different world.

One tend to locate centre of his world in a place where he lives. This is natural, but this causes distortion in perception of the world. We start to think that the eyes of all the people in the world are directed to our country or continent. We, Europeans tend to think that Europe is centre of the world. Amercians think that United States is the centre of the world, and the rest is holiday or wild countries.

This is totally wrong. People here, live here, so they don’t really care about other parts of the world. That’s normal, but you have to have an opportunity to obeserve it in order to understand it. When you are in Shanghai, then center of the world shifts to Shanghai. You go to the local market, travel by local well developed subway network, consider the quality of water in your local tap, eat in the nearby restaurant which serves delicious dumplings, notice unbelievabely cheap excursion to Angkor Wat (it’s just behind the border!) and then realize that for these people here any particular country or site in the World is just like any other. For them there is nothing more special in Europe than in America. Even more, some countries which are totally exotic for people living in other parts of the world are better known for Chinese becuse they are so close! Think about Korea or Japan. It’s just short jump over the East China Sea!

To exist in the mindset of people in any aprticular place you have to come and present yourself. Then maybe do some business. Sell something and buy something. Maybe some cultural activities.

Here we reach the point of this reflection. As probably you know I am from Poland. This is middle-sized European country, kicked heavily by the history and probably thus locked mentally by it’s history.

We Poles think about Poland as a Messiah of the Nations or Christ of the Nations. We think that everybody in the World cares about what Poland and see how splendid and exeptional Poland is. The truth however is brutal. If you don’t tell people about yourself, you don’t exist! People here doesn’t know much about Poland (in contrary I don’t know much about China, however I really want to change it). Poland does not use potential to promote itself as a modern economy and country of modern culture. Yes, there are some positive signs like Polish pavilion on Expo exhibition, or new Frederic Chopin monument in Zhongshan Park, however this is not it. Chopin lived over 150 years ago. Is this the only exportable cultural good that we have? Pretty old and exploited. Expo pavilion will be removed after Expo, besides it’s not easily accessible, as you have to pay to enter the Expo exibition.

So, who is visible in China? I have flown here by finnish Finnair. In Pudong Airport I could spot Delta from US and British Airways. Then you go to the city, by Germany-made metro trains or Germany-made Maglev train. In the city you can eat American junk food (apart from delicious Chinese food), buy clothes in Spanish or Swedish clothes stores, travel by Swedish, Korean or Japanese buses (and of course Chinese ones), see American, Swedish, Japanese, German or Czech (yes! Skoda is here!) cars, and then you realize that there is no Polish products at all! So how any plain person here can ever get interested on Poland, country that does not produce anything to be spotted by average Chinese?

Yes, we can put another thousand crosses in Warsaw, enthrone Christ as a King of Poland (stupid: Poland is republic, and Christ is not a living human), argue about penalization of in-vitro (no, I am not talking about medieval Europe!) but this means that no one could ever treat us seriously. The faith and religion should be the domain of Churches. Making Poland a modern, competitive, well-known, trusted country should be a prioity of the Parliament in Poland. It’s not.

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