China Elevator Stories

“Did You Come Here With Your Family?”

I talk with a female employee at a massage parlour in Shenzhen.


Ruth Silbermayr-Song


After having asked me about my marriage, Ling, the 20-year-old employee, inquires: “Did you come here with your family?”
I tell her: “No, I came to China on my own.”
“Wow, that’s brave! Where is your husband from?”
“He’s from Northeast China.”

She asks: “Are your in-laws living with you now?”
“No, they still live in Northeast China.”
“You know, Chinese have a tradition of respecting the parents. It means that after we get married, we’ll live with the parents of our husband.”
“I know. My husband’s parents live in a small city and they like it there though. I don’t think Shenzhen would be a good city for them to live in. The pace here is too fast.”

She tells me: “You should have kids soon. Do you think they would look more like you or more like your husband?”
“I really don’t know. I guess there would be something of both of us in them.”

Have you ever had a similar conversation?