Surrounded by the smell of chili and bacon - unfamiliar odors to most Shanghainese - former residents from the Three Gorges Dam area are observing the Year of Horse at their new homes in the metropolis' Chongming County.
Most families prepared the traditional Chongqing-style spicy dishes for their grand New Year's Eve dinner on Monday night.
"We all miss the spicy food from our hometown," said a housewife. "Shanghai food is OK, but is too sweet for us."
Like most housewives in the neighborhood, she prepared four jars of pickles for the holiday, along with other traditional Chongqing food, including bean curd, pork and dim sum.
To make way for the world's largest water control project at the Three Gorges, 1,210 people from Yunyang County in the Yangtze riverside municipality of Chongqing were resettled in 14 towns and villages in the county over the past two years.
All families were allocated farming land. Some have found jobs in local businesses, reported Xinhua news agency.
"Although we feel homesick at times, I hope we'll all get used to our new home and enjoy our life here (in Shanghai)," said Fan Minghua, who found work at a local handkerchief factory soon after his family was resettled.
Some residents are making money from their own businesses in town, including drugstores, hairdressing and tailoring. The local government has exempted them from tax during the first year of operation.
Pan Jialong's family moved to Chongming in 2000, and was allocated two hectares of land, where he planted rice, vegetables and oranges.
"People are nice and friendly here," said Pan. "There are free lectures on how to increase our crop yield, and the villagers even offer me a lift in their trucks to sell fruit and vegetables downtown."
The younger generation of the new residents has found life particularly enjoyable in their second hometown, as the well-equipped schools, amiable teachers and friendly classmates all make them feel at home, Xinhua said reported.
Yu Liqing, a second year student at a junior high school in Chongming, did not learn any English at the primary school in her hometown Yuyang. She found herself at a loss but her teacher gave her an extra half hour of tuition each day.
"Young people adjust easily to new environments," the teenage girl said, "Life here is even better than in our hometown, and I'm confident I will make more progress."
( eastday.com February 14, 2002)