Shanghai summers are deeply unpleasant. Temperatures tend to hover in the mid 30s, with weather forecasts adding ‘feels like 45+’ just below the technically correct temperature. Humidity has been around 85% lately, which, really, honestly, is pretty freaking awful.
We have the dehumidifier running nearly non stop in the living room because if we turn it off while we are out during the day, we’d come back to a greenhouse (except with dead houseplants instead of a verdant nursery).
At night, the bedroom AC is on full blast so we don’t wake up with heat stroke headaches. I’ve got endless bronchial barking in my lungs from the hot, wet air outside and the nasty recycled inside air.
But we have it lucky- we have a lovely new set of AC units in a lovely airy flat and we have salaries that can afford to shell out 350rmb/month for the privilege.
Around us, the housing is all low rise, low rent, cramped lane housing. Most don’t show any signs of having ACs set up and most just leave their windows flung wide open. Some sleep outside for ventilation. Just down the street I saw a makeshift bed set up on the sidewalk, with room for one adult, draped in mosquito netting. It’s been there since June.
In the evenings, every evening, the sidewalks are filled with people sitting on folding lawn chairs (alas, no lawn), in shorts and cotton shifts. The men sit with their shirts hoisted up over their hairless bellies; the women sit in short thin dresses with thin legs ending in circulation-cutting nylon anklet pantyhose under their sandals. They sit and fan themselves and play cards and talk.
We’ve walked over to the area near Xintiandi in the evenings for dinner a few times this month, nearing the old town, and the parks and sidewalks have been filled with people, sitting people, loitering people, people out for some moving air and hint of breeze.
With luck, by mid October everything should be reasonable again.