A couple of months back, NZ and I were in Shanghai near People's square, and found ourselves in the middle of the most perplexing "fair" we've ever experienced. To be quite honest, we weren't actually sure what we were in the midst of, but I can tell you there were literally thousands of people sitting side by side- many with upside down umbrellas that held fliers with what we thought to be personal information--because we can read mandarin and all-not!
But, we could make out phone numbers, birthdates, ages...that was enough to get us thinking...
Were these people all aging parents looking for long lost children?
There are tons of orphans throughout China, for many different reasons, but mainly because of China's strict one child per family rule and the extreme fines for anyone who breaks the law. This is what I thought, at least. I couldn't stop thinking about those pictures and the people squatting in the park with their fliers all afternoon.
NZ on the other hand, suggested that perhaps these people were looking for mates for their children.
It took us a few months to show the pictures to his assistant for translation, but NZ was in fact correct. The thousands of people squatting out in the brisk November air were all parents looking to find mates for their children.
For me, as a westerner, this just seems crazy, but for a culture like China in which social standing is key to survival, this is just a way to try and better one's life. When a couple marries, they often take on the responsibility of caring and providing homes for their parents. These parents are taking things into their own hands, hoping for a better life.