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A mixed blessing: Great changes in villages

Popularity 1Viewed 1786 times 2014-10-23 17:50 |Personal category:reading note|System category:Life| national

We spent this national holiday in our home village, in the south of the Hebei province. The peasants were busy reaping the corns and planting the winter wheat. So many changes have been made for the last decades that we can barely remember the life before in the 1980s. I was born in 1973 and the county life in the beginning period of reform and open-up is a very familiar memory for me to dig.



First browsing in your eyes, the bumpy street has been changed into the neat asphalt road studded with all kinds of vehicles most of which are family cars. It boasts drainage system so we don't worry about the troubled water in the drenching season. In my teenage times when it was going to rain, the peasants were forced back from the fields but the muddy roads often made their bicycles in vain. You had to give up the bikes and go home for shelter.


Of course the brightest thing is the rows of two-storey buildings adjacent to streets. Their decorations are not less luxury than the houses in cities because both decorations are operated by migrant workers from villages. Today more peasants like to build their homes near the streets so that it's more convenient to do some businesses. There are several big supermarkets with commodities as abundant as in cities.


If you are too tired of field works to cook meals for the family you can shop in supermarket for many kinds of dishes and delicatessens. Make an episode, the mutton soup of Long Yao County is very famous and delicious. Fortunately there is a little mutton-soup luncheonette. Of course we couldn't waste the chance of enjoying it. The taste was great!


Go out to the fields! The works have been too much changed. Lots of labors and tools are disappearing now replaced with mechanization. If you have enough patience, I can make a detailed recommendation about the past labors. In the past we often waged into the corn fields to pick the corns under sweltering hot air. Then you had to drag the corns out and fetch them home for drying. Then the most fatigued: bring down the corn stalk from its root, which was also a dirty work. You still needed to fetch them out of the fields and clear the fields for irrigation if short of water. After several days' delay you would begin the famous labor--plowing the field with the fertilizers put in. Now you also needed a famous tool--the nine-tooth-rake, the same weapon of Piggie in "Pilgrimage To The West"--to make the field flat and neat for irrigating. The winter wheat could be planted then. After that the peasants began a long and cosy winter holiday which would end in the next spring.



Now all these harsh labors have been delivered to the booming machines with the only works being fetching and making telephones. That is the reason why many migrant workers refuse to go home in reaping seasons. In teenage times we often spoke of the future vision-- four modernization, floor up, floor down, electric lamp and telephone-- which was felt so far away at that time. Today probably in every peasant's pocket, a mobile phone is ubiquitous because it's so convenient to contact.


But there are different voices. In the evening several neighbors came to have a good talk about the changes they had witnessed. Not in question the peasants have been liberated from heavy agricultural labor but they are still difficult to say they are more relaxed than before.


Once the wheat is planted there will be all kinds of recruiting information for the eligible to go out. They have to abandon the cosy home and the chance of managing the family and educating their children. Acompanying becomes a scarce resource. You have to be busy again for the good of the family. You can refuse to leave but you must be doing something or you will be scoffed as not promising. On the contrary in the past the winter holiday was the biggest advantage the peasants boasted.


There is another progress. It needs discussion if it can be called progress. That is, the number of casualty from scuffles has declined sharply because law savvy has reached everyone's mind. The most frequent happening is, before you make substantial hurt to others, they have arrived in hospital and the next thing is your pocket. On the other hand, the casualties from traffic are climbing.



Then there comes the most disturbing thing. I think it is the disproportion of gender ratio in villages. In our local region it becomes more and more difficult for relevant boys to find a spouse. A manifested example in our village, there are 40-60 right age boys but the girl number is only between 10-15. Now girls in rural area are more scarcer. As the parents of boys they have to collect more money in building houses, buying cars and wedding gifts. In fact the car, bought as an extravagance in looking for girl-friend in rural areas, is not efficient now. Most of the cars are idle at home unless there are friends' wedding rituals. In the national day I happened to be entangled into a long wedding car line just beside our village. There were up to thirty cars. Not only is it a waste of resources, but it is a warm-bed of traffic accidents.


The imbalance stems from lots of reasons ranging from policies to living habit. In our area, girls' scarcity comes from a fact that most of them go out in studying or working in cities and refuse to go back. If bulk of boys can't find ideal spouses to form families, that will provide a question of social security.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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