My Shenzhen moments that make me feel at home

Writer: Dipti Shivajirao Mali  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From:   |  Updated: 2024-03-12

Shenzhen is no doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are many things that catch your eyes. 

Spectacular infrastructure, gorgeous landmarks, and well-maintained parks. It’s a city that has a perfect balance of greenery and modern architecture. It is also called a young city and is filled with bright-minded people. I think the quote by Herb Caen correctly describes Shenzhen: “A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.” 

People of all age groups are seen here hustling to fulfil their dreams. But don’t underestimate the senior citizens here. You will see them enjoying square dancing, playing a game of mahjong, and also taking care of their grandkids.

In my community, I regularly see a group of senior citizens enjoying a game of mahjong as their way of socializing. It is a tile-based game. Sometimes, I watch their game. I wanted to take some pictures of them and make some short videos, but since I don’t know them, I was hesitant. But then one day I thought, let’s ask them and see their response: if they allow, I will take pictures. So, one afternoon, I asked and they readily agreed and allowed me to take photos and make videos. 

Senior citizens play mahjong in Shenzhen. Photos by Dipti Shivajirao Mali

Seeing my interest, they not only allowed me to take pictures but also asked me to join their game. I told them, “I don’t know how to play the game," They said. "Join us and we will teach you.” So sweet, isn’t it? Asking a foreigner to join their game. It was their way of making me feel comfortable. I was talking with them for the first time and with the help of a translator; but I really felt like I was talking to people I know and not strangers in a foreign land. I really admire these enthusiastic senior citizens and their way of enjoying their life in retirement. God bless them with a long healthy life. 

Sometimes, some strangers on the street or commuting in the Metro or bus will ask me, “Where are you from?” When I tell them I am from India, most of them will show their thumbs up saying it's a good country. Some will say “yes, we know India, a country popular for Indian (Bollywood) movies, yoga, and Aamir Khan (an Indian hero). We like your Indian hero Aamir Khan." And I reply, "I love Andy Lau." And this is how most of our conversations with strangers start. When you live abroad, it always feels good when locals talk about your home country. 

I remember once my husband and I were traveling on a bus and a school-going boy started talking with us. Before he got down, he said, “Welcome to Shenzhen!” This happened a couple of years back when we had just moved to Shenzhen. I guess the little boy really made our day. I call these moments “my little moments of joy.” 

We are fortunate to be surrounded by people who make us feel at home, and now Shenzhen has become our second home.