ode to things in the US that I've never noticed until now:
1) Genetically engineered fruit, like pomegranates and watermelon. Everyone makes such a ruckus about how our fruit has been manipulated by Mendelian inbreeding or genetic tinkering, but, 1 week here makes me say, do what you want with my fruit to enhance it! That's because some of the fruit in China is stuck in the 1990s. For example...we bought pomegranates (2 for 90 cents!) at the store the other day and tried them this morning. Yes, they were delicious and maybe sweeter than the mammoth pomegranates at Costco. But, the overall fruit was much smaller, the seeds were enormous compared to one in los Estados Unidos, and the rind was thicker and harder to get off. No big deal, but I got full a few bites after swallowing the seeds so started spitting them out. As in, Alison and I took turns juicing the seeds in our mouth and spitting the leftovers into the trash. Very romantic. In terms of watermelon, here they're smaller and circular, like our seedless watermelon, but have tons of seeds. Eating one reminds me of when we used to go to Rala's farm on the 4th of July and have watermelon-seed spitting contests in the field and then go to Papa Jerry's house to eat my total annual consumption of bratwurst and hotdogs in one afternoon. I guess this makes me seem like a food snob, but I never noticed how much I enjoy eating all of the pomegranate and watermelon I put in my mouth.
2) Toilet paper and hand soap in bathrooms. I think we've had the "wash your hands to decrease disease spread" talk in med school 4 times (2x a year). So, imagine my surprise when, at the research portion of the largest, most storied cancer hospital in China, they don't have toilet paper OR soap in the bathroom (maybe it's different in the actual hospital, but I don't know). Everyone brings their own though, so it's all good. And now that I think about it, it's a great "training squat toilet" because it has a bar to hold onto. Considering right now my biggest fear is falling backwards, that's a small blessing.
3) Accessibility for people who aren't in perfect health. To get to the cancer hospital from the bus stop coming south, you have to walk up stairs, cross an overpass, and walk down stairs. The last few days, people I've seen crossing this trip include a few with internal jugular lines, a few getting out of wheelchairs to climb up the stairs, and people who are obviously mid-chemo. There is definitely some sort of shuttle that picks patients up, because there are constantly mini-vans filled with patients getting dropped off, but I imagine those cost much more than the 0.4 yuan bus ride (5 cents). They definitely don't have social workers at this hospital to help people cope financially and physically with their illnesses!
I'm going to have to cut this post short bc I'm at work and feel guilty about not being productive. Tonight, we're going to dinner with the Fogarty peeps and, afterwards, Alison will talk tonight about her first day teaching!