Living in China for eight months has allowed me to discover a lot of interesting things about the Chinese people, particularly the senior citizens. China’s senior citizens are those considered to be in the “Retiring Age” stage, which is 60 years old and above. Oftentimes they stay at home because they fear for their safety or they simply complain about their arthritic joints. Some go ballroom dancing, others would rather take care of their grandchildren.
Here in China, it is just usual to see senior citizens playing sports, dancing, exercising, and doing walkathons during early mornings—not minding the cold weather even during winter time. Last January at the height of winter, my Mom and I were waiting for our bus to work when we noticed an old lady walking in light clothing with no bonnet on her head to protect her from the cold. It turned out that this was the old lady’s routine. Yes, we agreed, walking is a good exercise, but on winter mornings and in light clothing? That sounded difficult, but not for this grandma.
Senior citizens of China don’t mind at all wearing rubber shoes and carrying backpacks. To them, it’s easier to do the everyday errands that they do for their sons and daughters who are at work.
One time, my mom, sister, and I were waiting for the bus when we saw an old woman deftly carrying a backpack nimbly crossing the street in her rubber shoes. She was definitely one groovy grandma!
Who says carnival rides are only for the young ones? Another time, we went to a mini carnival. My two nephews were all so excited to get into the spaceship ride. We were supposed to accompany them, but seeing the fast circular motion of the ride made us think twice so we decided to just let the kids go for the ride. As we were telling the kids to sit properly, an old lady came. We thought that she was looking out for her grandson. We were wrong! She went in and sat on one of the spaceships. A worried staff approached her and asked her if she could handle the ride. The old lady, without batting an eyelash, said yes. So off she went up in the air, contented and happy. She even used the controllers to move her spaceship up and down. After the ride, she walked normally without any trace of being dizzy.
The seniors of China also have a very active social life. They usually gather in parks, especially in the morning to do their morning exercise.
We also see them walking in the park or riding the country’s main transport systems, even motorcycles! Old ladies with canes would rather ride a motorcycle, which can be rented, than wait for the bus.
Here in China, if someone can still move about, then that person can still work. It seems that the Chinese have lived up to this practice because it is just ordinary to see old people working. Most of the seniors’ jobs require even more physical strength than those of the young ones. Some of the seniors’ jobs include delivering loads of goods using a bicycle, walking from street to street selling products, working as cleaners and almost all odd jobs.
One day, while waiting for the bus, an old lady approached me and asked me if I would pay her to shine my shoes. I was hesitant at first, but then I said yes since my shoes really needed cleaning. She just charged me 2 Yuan (about Php15); I felt that she deserved more so I gave her more than that amount. Her bright smile when she received my payment was as shiny as my newly polished shoes. Thanks to this hard-working grandma.
How and where these seniors get their strength is truly a mystery. Is it their lifestyle or culture? Whatever it is, these seniors from China are not your ordinary senior citizens.
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