There are moments when the Chinese peasants look at us if we came from the Stone Age.
We ask them silly questions: Do you have a smartphone? Do you have high speed internet? Are you on social media?
It’s as if I’d ask in my grandparents’ village if they know how to milk a cow.
When we introduce ourselves to someone, they immediately pull out their smartphone and snap a WeChat moment, which they send to their friends. Then they wave their phone, signaling that they want to scan our QR code. ”You have a new friend” on the field, at the back of the tractor.
Everyone hangs out on the internet — the woman who sells fruits on the side of the road is watching videos on her smartphone, placed in a crate of grapes; the goat shepherd on the hill is texting in a chat, the peasant on the tractor has a bluetooth in his ear; the village store merchant watches action movies.
”I like American movies”, a girl tells us. Wow, we wonder, you’ve got access to American movies?
Of course – she shows us an app where you can find gazillions of films, western and Chinese videos, music, games, books, anything you want, without worrying about copyright.
And how does she do it, does she watch them on the phone? No, she is streaming on a smart TV.
Technology that is still expensive in Romania – and is used only by wealthy hipsters – is at the Chinese peasant’s disposal at quarter the price. You just need to know what high quality fake product to choose.
In most of the villages there are smartphone stores. Not some shady shack full of second hand phones, but OPPO and VIVO official shops with fancy showrooms like Apple, with gigantic inflatable mascots and performances with songs and rewards. All of these among corn cobs and tractor spare parts.
The real deal is online shopping though. The Alibaba application gives you everything you can imaginee, but you can also find lots of stuff on WeChat, where the paying method is just as simple as sending an emoticon.
There’s a new generation of Chinese steampunk androids that is gaining ground, and my mind goes crazy only thinking about how things are gonna evolve.
On the other hand, the elders look exactly like in the movies – I feel like hanging around them and learning kung-fu 😀