Women in Computing
||A Day In the Life of A
Professional Chinese Woman
Daybreak - Part I of III
By Sheryl Hall
A typical day for any Chinese woman might begin as early as 5:00a.m., when the air is still cool, the tranquil morning slowly begins. For many Chinese women, exercise is a part of their daily routine.
A retired Chinese woman might be an early riser in order to take in a leisurely morning dance with others in the park, Tai Chi, or a long walk with a close friend. However, for the younger women, early rising is typically the start of a very busy day which often includes exercise.
During several of my dawn jogs, I observed women of all ages participating in various exercises. Definitely, I came across women bicycling, yet it appeared that they were already making their journey to work. This is my presumption anyway, since their apparel seemed more than casual. And, sometimes I noticed a small lunch-box either in a wire-basket in front of their bicycle or tied near the back.
My assumption, is that the women bicycling were most likely doing it out of necessity in order to get somewhere. Bicycling is still a primary mode of transportation in all of the cities that we visited. Unlike here in the U.S., where bicycling is generally for recreation and exercise. I also noticed several women of varied ages, jogging, running, walking and meditating in the parks or school-yards. Occasionally, they were simply running alongside the common bicycle paths that parallel the automobile roads. Other times, they congregated in parks or in what appeared to be a paved courtyard setting.
In Hefei, one morning on my early morning jog, I came across a school yard with a track field. It was alive with people of all ages scattered about the entire field and track. Some of them were sitting in the center of the track in the grass. Others were crouched low with their legs folded tightly, hands cupped together, meditating peacefully. Others were walking quickly around the track - some alone and some with partners. Still others, were jogging or running around the inner and outer tracks of the field.
I was surprised to see many of these women wearing high-heels, skirts or pants, with long-sleeved silk blouses, jogging and running around the track. Personally, I canít imagine this as much as I sweat and over-heat!
One difference I am sure, is that they probably donít perspire as I do. Or perhaps they are more tolerant - hmm! Most likely, they donít have "work-out" clothes as a separate part of their wardrobe.
By 6:30a.m., the bicycle paths were much more crowded with daily commuters. The roads were progressively becoming congested with buses, taxis, scooters and automobiles. The sidewalks were alive with walkers and markets were sprouting up. The fumes increased and the air slowly filled with thick grease-like emissions from the multitudes of deep-fried foods frying on the street corners.
Much like anywhere, many of the working women have jobs and places to be. In fact, most people in China do some type of work outside the home. Whether it be a job in a newly built office or university, a run-down factory, department store, farmers market, make-shift restaurant on the street corner, or government employed street-sweeper up before the crack of dawn, the people are employed.
Typically, there are also children to get prepared for the school-day or the child-sitter. One young mother of a three-year old girl informed me that her mother cares for the child during the day. Dissimilar to the U.S., it is much more common for the extended family to care for each other. There are not many daycares or nursing homes in China.
The mothers and grandmothers are most often responsible for helping the children get prepared for school. Often, the extended families of five or more, are sharing a single apartment with one tiny bathroom - another reason to get up early! Breakfast consists of plain white rice or sometimes noodles and hot broth or hot tea.
Self-preparation begins shortly afterwards the children are prepared. Typically, the attire consists of simple flat shoes, ankle-high nylons, pants or skirt and light blouse.
Their transportation is most likely a bicycle. Those that live farther out from the city proper, might ride their bike from their apartment to a bus or to catch the subway in Beijing, for instance. I was told by one young woman working in a factory that she rides one-hour each way, to and from work. The few that are more prosperous might own a scooter bike and very few, an automobile. In the larger Provinces such as Beijing and Shanghai, there were noticeably more scooters and automobiles.
By 7:00a.m. the streets were filled with thousands of commuters. The sidewalks packed with pedestrians.
Nearly every street-corner I passed on my return back to the hotel, had a make-shift food stand. Often, they consisted of a small fold-out table with chairs, a huge pot or two, for deep-frying dough into dumplings, and other cooking utensils. All of these items, were pulled into the city streets by a man or woman on a bicycle. A large wagon hitched to the bike, stored the heavy loads. Sometimes, the table had a pretty cloth draped loosely over it with flowers in the center!
These daybreakís in China, are lasting memories for me!
Stay-tuned for Part II - The Work Day!
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