Tag Archives: red

Red room hospital photo montage – 上海红房子医院

26 Aug

At the beginning of this year I published a photo from my bedroom window where one day I happened to look down and the roof was missing from the administration building of the hospital across the street.   Over the next several months, I kept an eye on the hospital.  They gutted the entire building and then started putting it back together.  When I thought of it, I snapped a picture, thinking that it may be interesting to see the progress of the build.

Then I went on vacation in May and forgot about it.

The original photo – no roof!

Putting it back together – March 2012

I thought this was nearing the end because of the red roof, but I was wrong (April 1)

Then they covered the beautiful red roof with what looked like concrete (Apr 7)

Then they sealed the roof – it wasn’t red anymore (April 17)

And the finished building (August 2012) – with the red roof

The hospital building is now completely finished and has flags fluttering on the flag pole in front.  I can see people entering and exiting regularly which is more than I can say for the now over a year long construction on my office building.

Shanghai’s red room hospital (红房子医院) is a famous OB-GYN, maternity hospital in Shanghai.  It has several branches and the one right out my window is one of the more centrally located ones.  My friend who had the second baby also went to a branch for her delivery, though closer to her home, not the one across the street.  It is  traditional hospital setting for China, meaning that you have to wait in line and sometimes in the morning there will be a line of expectant mothers or their representatives stretching through the courtyard, waiting to get a number to see the doctor.

I like the counterpoint of the idea of hospitals as a place of birth and new beginnings as opposed to the end, with pain and suffering.  Having a bright new red roofed building also helps.

Have you watched some place change – be renovated or renewed recently?

Red vs. pink

29 Jan

Is it sexy in red and sweet in pink? That may depend on where you grew up.

I get my nails done here fairly regularly and since I am lucky enough to have a housekeeper and am not scrubbing dishes or toilets my nails tend to last two to three weeks in pretty decent shape.  I have two different nail salons that I frequent depending on if I’m looking for a quick polish change or a more luxurious experience.

One of the conversations that I have had multiple times with the nail technicians is what colors they believe look the best.  They love to suggest bright colors that set off my white skin.  For Christmas I tend to get red and when I went last week it seemed everyone in the salon – Chinese and Western alike were getting red for the Chinese New Year season as well.  Red is everywhere – from door decorations, to clothes to packaging – even the bright apples that are sold on street corners.

However, if you change the tables and ask – what color they believe is the sexiest, every single Chinese person I know, irregardless of gender,  has said “pink.”

Initially this took me back – we have “Pretty in Pink” the movie, romance novels with pink parasols and in general pink is a color for little girls in the states – we even have “Barbie pink.”  That’s fine for the summer – on my toes, but it’s not the first color that pops into my head. 

I’ve thought about the color choices quite a bit and I’ve come to the conclusion that here – red is everywhere.  It’s nothing special – it suffers from overexposure.  When it is your year (for example, this year is year of the dragon), you are told to wear red clothing to protect you from harm.  They even sell special red underwear (which in another context may be sexy) to make sure that you are safe and sound.  It’s a tradition for parents to give their children red underwear every twelve years – in a sense the “underwear for Christmas” syndrome.   If you grew up here, you may too think pink is the sexiest color.

This is one of the cultural differences that seems to have crept up on me.  I like red and I like pink, but the meaning for me won’t be Chinese.  I think of red as a sexy Valentine’s day color as well as my dad’s favorite color.  Pink is adorable on babies, but can also be seen as a splash of color on a  little shift under a black suit.  Each has it’s own place – for multiple uses.

Which would you pick – red or pink?

Welcoming the new year

24 Jan

Living in China, I am lucky enough to celebrate two new year’s celebrations, with the second, the lunar new year being much more important.  There is a week off of work and this year, because of the lunar calendar there were only three weeks between my Christmas break and the lunar new year.  It is tradition to welcome the new year into your apartment.  This year – with New Year’s Eve on Sunday and Chinese Lunar New Year on Monday is the year of the dragon, hence the little dragons in our New Year’s door decorations.  Here are some photos.

Welcoming the new year into the apartment

More dragons.

Close up of the dragons


Decorating the door of the apartment building - aren't they cute?

 More traditional – wishing for wealthy and prosperity.

The neighbor's door - 福 means wealth

 The color red is an integral part of the festival and is everywhere this time of year.  There are annual parties (my company’s this year was Friday the 13th), people in the streets buying fruit baskets as gifts, and lots and lots of toasting.  My colleagues equate Chinese New Year with Christmas, but in my mind it is more like a week of Thanksgiving with a touch of the Fourth of July.  It’s a week of family and too much food and staying up late to look at the never ending fireworks. Now that this is the fifth Chinese New Year that I’m celebrating, the traditional phrases are starting to fall off my lips, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less genuine.
新年快乐!祝你们身体健康,万事如意,龙年大吉!(Xin nian kaui le! Zhu nimen shenti jiankang, wan shi ru yi, long nian da ji!)
Happy New Year! I wish you all health, 10,000 good things and a dragon year full of blessings.

Red envelopes

3 Jan

Chinese people are very practical.

At weddings, instead of gifts chosen from a list of matching china and household goods, every guest is required to provide a red envelope full of money.  Red is the color of luck and prosperity and from a practical perspective, each guest is at least required to include enough money in the envelope to pay for the dinner that they eat that night as well as a little extra that can be used by the bride and groom to start their life together.

The first wedding I attended in China I wasn’t clued in to this custom and I used a white envelope (with the requisite cash) instead.  I remembered being very nervous that my amount was not appropriate, and not thinking at all about the envelope.  White envelopes are traditionally used at funerals, but my Chinese friends were very gracious and after the wedding we all had a good laugh.  Since then, I have made sure that I always have a couple of spare red envelopes and I even made sure to give one to my coworker before I went on holiday for Christmas as I knew her wedding was while I was on vacation.

Similarly, at Chinese New Year, instead of giving presents, parents and grandparents give the children red envelopes full of cash (the 100 RMB note is also conveniently colored red) which are then tucked away by the parents to purchase practical things throughout the year.

I understand that this is the way the culture works here, but it is one of those things that I’m still “not accustomed to.”  I view the art of picking out the perfect present for someone for Christmas or buying a gift for newlyweds as fun – I like to think about how people will thread it into their lives and hopefully occasionally think of me as they wear, read, view or use the gift.

How practical are you?  Given the chance – would you give a “red envelope?”

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