You catch sight of her one day during your regular commute. She’s sitting at the other end of the bus, earphones in, head down in a phone or a book. She gets off the bus before you, but she stays in your mind.
You see her a few times over the next few days. You try to predict where on the bus she will sit, but it’s never next to you. You swear that she smiled at you once.
It’s only a few weeks later you work up the courage to get off the bus at the same stop, but as you approach her, your perspective changes fast. The elegant façade she parades at a distance quickly crumbles away, the crack in the cement and uneven stairs are obvious and irritating.
This is China.
Not Chinese women, of course.
A grand and magnificent establishment consisting of bamboo reinforcement and low-grade cement is obvious to anyone who’d care to look. Elegantly designed buildings by world-class architects are let down by a severe lack of attention to detail.
Street-side, this is represented by low laying power lines, stapled in seemingly random ways along walls, pipes concealed beneath a speed-bump style obstacle in the middle of pedestrian paths. It’s evident it should have been laid below the ground, but wasn’t due to time constraints or the cement truck arriving before the plumber.
Luckily for them, aside from the lack of OHS, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Their expectations of “World Class” cities have been realised, but don’t expect them to be around for long. This infrastructure has the lifespan of the random gadgets and clothes you can find at the local markets.
It won’t be long before the rate of construction is equal to the rate of degradation. As a civil engineer, I’m not sure whether to be pleased or concerned.