I know I have written on this topic in the past in my emails and letters, and I am sure I will mentioned it again in the future, but every year when the snow first arrives I am always amazed at what a great equalizer it is.
The day after the snow stops falling the pounding, scraping and shouting begins. Every business is responsible for clearing the snow from in front of their shop, not only the side walk but also the road. You will see ladies from fancy dress shops out in their high heeled shoes with a pick axe in their hands, working next to the butcher who still has blood on his apron and a shovel in his hand. Every business sends all but one of its workers outside. The whole street becomes alive with the sites and sounds of snow removal. It is like a street party with a purpose. The buses stop running and everyone joins in. Even on our campus each class (except of the foreign students, thankfully) is assigned a portion of side walk or road that they have to clean off).
It is funny because in Uyghur the verb for shovelling is actually cleaning the snow. And it sometimes seems like that is what they are doing. Today when I was out for a walk I saw a guy trying to shovel off the snow using a big over sized broom. I really can’t say how successful he was with his tool, but he was cleaning the snow.
The first day after it snows is also special for other reasons, it is one of the few days in the winter that we are blessed with clear skies and white snow. The falling snow does a lot to clean the pollution out of the air. The snow is white for all of a few days before it is covered with a light layer of coal dust that make it look black. I better enjoy it while I can.