Monday, November 13, 2006

strolling in pyjamas

There was an interesting piece on yesterday's Sunday Times (subscribers only, but you can read the same story here).
It was about the controversy revolving around an old habit that some Shanghainese people have of wearing pyjamas in public. Shanghai is arguably China's most modern city and yet it's still common to see residents wearing pyjamas in public during daytime. According to the report "they cruise by on bicycles. They sip tea in quiet teahouses in the park". A recent survey conducted by the Shanghai Academy of Social Science "found out that about 16% of respondents said they or family members often wear pyjamas in public. It is also considered one of the most irritating features of Shanghai city life."
I suppose it's really strange to bump into somebody wearing pyjamas during the day in public, but if you think about it, it makes a whole lot of sense. Although Shanghai is riding an incredible modernization boom, there are still many residents who live in old homes and share public bathrooms, so it's just practical to go out in pyjamas when nature calls. Well, from the bathroom to the coffee shop down the corner is just a short stroll, and so out they go, clad in their pyjamas. For some, it can be seen as a sign of bad taste, a fashion faux-pax, or simply laziness, and for people who live there it must not be nice to witness the daily display of the not-so-latest pyjama fashion.
But, I think this peculiarity is one of the things that makes Shanghai an interesting place to visit, this is just the type of thing that adds colour to the city. The contrast between the super-modern architecture and the pyjama-wearing crowd. Without them, Shanghai will be just another modern city, full of mega-malls and properly attired people. And someday, we'll fondly remember the days we could bump into a guy dressed like this (thanks to preciouspirate).

Morgan, Benjamin. Pyjama Party. The Sunday Times. November 12, 2006.


Rachel said...

if you saw someone in the uk wearing pj's they would be called a scruffy chav, double standard methinks?

Nelson said...

yeah, just totally different cultural perspective. But come to think of it, wouldn't be interesting to see some bloke in pj's down on Oxford Street, eating some Pret A Manger sandwich, in plain daylight?