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A leisurely life starts in the park
By Zhao Wen

AT the first glance, Chengdu locals may seem as though they are never in a hurry. For many Chengdu people, the secret to balancing work and leisure is no secret at all. Balancing the two is a hallmark of life in Chengdu and explains both the leisurely attitude of residents as well as the city's dramatic economic growth.

Chengdu people excel at making life comfortable and interesting, and they always have time to stop and take a look at the proverbial roses. Spending a whole day sitting in a teahouse while playing mahjong or poker is not the only way they enjoy life.

Park fashion shows

Gathering in parks is a part of everyday life for many Chengdu people, especially the elderly since they have more spare time. What distinguishes Chengdu's parks from those in other cities around the country is the so-called T-show.

The T-show trend started about three years ago and is basically a fashion show involving mostly middle-aged and elderly women. In People's Park, women set up a red carpet on a platform and strut their stuff as if walking down a runway in Paris, New York or London. They don't miss a thing as music is included and the outfits they wear can be rather extravagant or outrageous.

Participants are charged a maximum of 2 yuan (32 US cents) to cover costs.

Ms Luo, 70, is a regular at the park's T-show and her confident performance always attracts a lot of attention. She says the time she spends on the red carpet can cut down the days she might spend in hospital.

"I used to join the group dance here every day after I retired, but I think I'm more suited to the T-show," Luo says. "It makes me feel like I'm still young."

Group dances

Group dances in parks are also common around Chengdu. To avoid disturbing nearby residents, the dances usually start in the afternoon.

Like the T-show, some dancers will bring a music player and start showing off their moves to attract others. Initially, the dancers may not know each other, but they quickly become friends.

They usually dance from 2pm until dinner time. At first there are mostly retired residents, but after 4pm more young people join in the fun.

"It's okay if you don't know how to dance because we have very good dancers who can teach you," said a middle-aged woman surnamed Li who dances in People's Park every day. "You're free now. Come on, don't be shy. Join us!"

Ear picking

Locals have taken ear cleaning to an art form. While most are content to use a cotton swab to clean their ears, Chengdu people prefer to have it done professionally and usually once a month.

Professional ear cleaners often roam around parks or teahouses and offer their services for about 10 yuan.

A professional ear cleaner needs to have a complete set of tools including an ear pick and tweezer to take out earwax, a goose feather bar to massage the ear canal and an ear hook to help expand the ear canal.

Each ear cleaner also has a zhenzi, which looks like a tuning fork.

It is used to make a ringing sound and help the ear relax after cleaning. Ear cleaners also use zhenzi to attract customers.

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