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Tue Feb 21, 2012, 04:47 AM

Life in China for an ex-pat (fourth in a series)

We are all moved into our penthouse apartment in Nanjing a brand new building and we are on the top floor sixteen stories above the swamp. OK, it's not exactly a swamp, because swamps are natural land features. Our swamp is man made.

When I was in high school, I learned a couple of things that Chinese architects haven't figured out. I also learned a couple of things that the management of the development (there are a half a dozen high rise buildings in this development and I think more will be built) haven't figured out. In the interest of sharing the accumulated knowledge of the Western World, I submit the following ideas for consideration by my Chinese hosts:

TO THE ARCHITECTS:

1. In case you haven't heard it, water flows down hill. The pedestrian entrance way to the underground parking lot has a downwards sloping ramp that channels the water runoff from the buildings right down into the garage. Maybe you should have sloped the entrance way UP so the water stayed out of the garage, then down by the stairs. The current design simply creates a huge underground swimming pool whenever it rains. The underground swimming pool has cars in it, so be careful where you swim.

2. In keeping with the concept of water flowing downhill, sloping roof lines serve a purpose to prevent the accumulation of water on a roof. Where flat roofs exist, water accumulates and in the Nanjing climate, where water accumulates, mosquitoes breed. Now, I have nothing against mosquitoes per se, I am sure they serve some ecological purpose, but I would prefer they serve it someplace else.

TO THE MANAGEMENT:

3. The half dozen or so artificial ponds have, through poor planning, turned into algae sodden mosquito nurseries. The dragon flies, who eat the mosquitoes, love it. I don't. Either turn on the circulators so the water moves (mosquitoes hate moving water) or go out and buy 50 or so Koi fish who will gladly eat the mosquito eggs and larvae.

4. When the rains come and you feel the need to put sandbags down to control the raging torrent, don't put the sand bags between the torrent and the drainage system. Use the sand bags to direct the water TOWARDS the drains, not away.

TO MY NEIGHBORS:

5. Here's a novel concept garbage cans are to put the garbage INTO. I have to wonder about the IQ of people who deposit a half a dozen bags of household garbage in a neat arrangement on the ground around an empty garbage can. Are you preparing a pleasing and appetizing spread for the mice and rats that will enjoy the repast? Rumor has it that the grounds crew told someone to do it that way. OK, so one stupid idea has now become the law of the land.

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