Happy New Cold Year

Xin Nian Kuai Le – 新年快乐

New Year Happy Happy, that’s it on Chinese. Maybe I should make it

Xin Nian Kuai Le Leng – 新年快乐冷

New Year Happy Happy Cold, that’s what it really is.

As a good German family member I’ve certainly been back in Germany for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. And Germany was also cold, to a large extend freezing cold. I remember a walk to a market on the morning of 31-DEC in Hamburg, brrrrrr…maybe it was a bit due to the fact that we hadn’t had any breakfast upfront. Wanted to get to the market to buy the breakfast’s ingredients. But cold is was nonetheless.

But, Germany, don’t complain. You have central heating!

Oh, did I enjoy a really warm appartment. I came back to Frankfurt on 18-DEC, my appartment not heated for several months. And still it was warmer than my Shanghai appartment when the so-called ‘heating’ runs permanently. And one slight turn on a few handles and I got a cosy 20-22 degrees. Yes, Celsius, certainly.

Back in Shanghai it was not so freezing cold outside, but still I was happy once having four walls around and a roof above myself. Just to keep the wind out. Otherwise outside was inside. By now, I got used to the fact that you see your warm breath in the freezing air. Not outside, there I don’t care. No, in our kitchen, in my bath, in any room if we don’t try to heat at least a bit.

Kitchen and bath have no heating. In the kitchen I once noticed that in my bottle of olive oil there showed some white dots, a sign that the oil good a bit too cold. Didn’t care too much, the bottle was nearly empty. I bought 2 new ones the same day, stored one with the conserve tins behind the bottom left cabinet door, one with the breakfast stuff in the hanging cabinet. Next day got my muesli from the hanging cabinet and what did my surprised eyes see? Not only a few white spots, no the entire oil complete white all over. I checked the other bottle, but it had faced the same fate. Well, some oil was still liquid, so I continue to use the bottles. And once weather warms up a bit so that the kitchen gets a bit warmer I will try to slowly unfreeze my good oil in a warm water bath.

It was valuable olive oil, cold pressed. And now it’s also cold frozen…

Don’t switch on these warm air blowers and your room is down to 6 degrees in a matter of minutes. You can feel how the cold creeps up your limps. Walls look thick, but isolation is unknown. That certainly also means that any kind of heating attempt mostly warms the outside. Happy gloabl warming…

The warm air blowers are basically our air conditioners, which also have a heating (or let’s call it: warming) function. And this sh.tty thing of an air conditioner in the living room has 2 big disadvantages:

1. Although told otherwise several times it turns the warm air stream upwards towards the ceiling after a couple of minutes. OK, fine, that’s right if I want to cool the room in summer (what it does very fine!), but warm air moves up automatically, so better blow it down if wanting to have any effect.

2. It seems to eat too much power. Our appartment has trouble with the amount of electrical power our devices use up. Unfortunately, the main fuse securing the entire appartment is outside behind a locked door. After being called several times the appartment management now provided us with a key to that door: We can switch on power ourselves now. What an advantage…we still rarely dare to switch on living room heating, but mostly stay in our sleeping rooms.

Someone once told me that centuries ago some Beijing goverment had decided that all cities north of the Yangze River shall start installing central heating, while south of the Yangze is considered warm enough (or the cold period considered short enough) for no need for central heating. Beijing is far north of the Yangze. Shanghai is 2 kilometers south. 2 nasty small kilometers, and that’s why I’m now sitting in my small room, air conditioner declares it would be 20 degrees, which is probably really is, somewhere very very close to the thermostat, but I’m sitting 5 meters away from that thing, which accounts for a drop in temperature of probably the same number of degrees.

Locals wear several layers of clothing then. If nothing else helps than even a winter jacket. Even in-house. Well, guess what I do now…ok, no jacket, but a t-shirt, a long sleeves undershirt, a business shirt and a sweater has already been seen at me.

And taxi driver’s still leave their car’s driver side window open…no matter what weather conditions, a Shanghai taxi driver seems to have an obligation to have the window open at least a few centimeters. While the passenger like it warm. So the heating runs full power, half of it out through the open window. Happy global warming…

Categories: Shanghai

Originally Created: 01/15/2006 11:25:55 AM

Last Edited: 01/15/2006