Recently, I have been exploring the theme of "Sanhe God". The so-called Sanhe God refers to a group of young people in Sanhe Market, Longhua, Shenzhen.
Although this group is unknown, there are legends about them that have spread far and wide: "Running away with a bucket", "working one day and playing for three days"...
This is their attitude towards life, as if they have seen through the world and only care about today, not tomorrow.
Curious about this group, I have looked up some information, including written reports and more visual documentaries, in an attempt to understand their real lives and the reasons behind this social phenomenon.
Here are some of the materials I have come across.
1. "Where is Home - An Investigation of Sanhe Youth"#
This book is written by a sociologist who infiltrated Sanhe Market, living and experiencing the environment with the local youth, and attempting to portray the true appearance of the "Sanhe God" through vivid descriptions.
The book is thin, and can be read in just two to three hours. It mainly discusses the daily lives of Sanhe youth, covering their clothing, food, housing, and transportation.
Here, you can eat a bowl of noodles for four yuan, a large bottle of water for two yuan, and solve the problem of sleeping with fifteen yuan for a bed. The daily cost of living is less than fifty yuan.
They often prefer to do daily-paid jobs. Daily-paid means getting paid on the same day for the work done that day. They can work as deliverymen, construction workers, or security guards, earning just over a hundred yuan a day. After deducting expenses such as transportation, meals, and drinks, they may not even have a hundred yuan left in hand.
Thanks to the low cost of living in the area, as long as they "spend wisely," they can basically have a schedule of working for one day and resting for three.
There are a few points in the book that left a deep impression on me. One is the stall of two old ladies who sell clothes and daily necessities, commonly known as "cheap clothes". The prices there can be as low as a few yuan. The reason for such low prices is that their goods are mostly second-hand.
And the source of these second-hand goods is even more surprising. Some are stolen from other Sanhe youth and then sold at low prices; some are collected from sanitation workers... The reason why there is a constant supply of goods is that Sanhe youth generally do not wash their clothes and throw them away when they can no longer be worn, or they buy new clothes for about ten yuan if they are sweaty and smelly after a day's work.
Another interesting point is the unique language style developed by Sanhe youth: "gua bi" and "diao mao".
The term "gua bi" has a rich meaning and can be used in many situations. For example, to describe a person's state: when they are on the verge of running out of money, they are said to be "gua bi"; cheap items are called "gua bi water" or "gua bi noodles". It seems that all things can be described as "gua bi" when they are about to be ruined or extremely cheap.
The term "diao mao" doesn't have much derogatory meaning in it, but rather it is a habit or even self-mockery. Due to the frequent population mobility in the area, people often can't remember each other's names, so they use this colloquial language to address each other. For example, if someone wins a big prize, a "diao mao" will come out and say that the person has had good luck.
For more information about Sanhe youth, you can read this book. In addition to describing their living conditions, it also analyzes the reasons for the formation of this social phenomenon from a sociological perspective. Unfortunately, it is not in-depth or comprehensive enough to provide a profound understanding.
2. "People in Sanhe"#
This documentary mainly follows the daily life of a local youth, providing a real reflection of the situation of the Sanhe God.
The documentary also mentions the well-known "gua bi noodle restaurant" in the area, run by a kind-hearted owner who has not raised prices for nine years. Unfortunately, at the end of the film, he also has to leave Sanhe.
Unlike books, documentaries are more real and three-dimensional. Compared to "Where is Home", the book extensively quotes others' statements and speculations, losing some authenticity.
By combining the two, one can have a more comprehensive understanding of this corner that exists in the world of rapid wealth accumulation in Shenzhen - a place that is real and heart-wrenching, making people sigh.
The formation of such a group must have complex reasons behind it.
From this book and the documentary, it can be seen that there are three main interests involved: the relatively disadvantaged Sanhe youth, the powerful intermediaries, and the powerful employers. Regardless of which party, they are all contributing factors to the emergence of this phenomenon.
They have become a group of depressed and cheap labor due to their own reasons and the influence of the local environment. At the same time, they are also subject to exploitation from the top, and the lack of effective regulation is also an undeniable reason.
After reading it, it is hard to imagine a group of people who eat cabbage mixed rice, sleep in beds piled with garbage, and earn only a few dozen yuan after a whole day of hard work. They have no goals, no aspirations, and live a carefree life, saying that they would rather work for one day and rest for three, free from any constraints, and unwilling to go to factories to be exploited.