Two women over 50 stood shoulder to shoulder, smiling and chattering. On their phones, they flashed pictures of their kids. Not nostalgic snapshots of graduation or prom, however. Dating pics.
You can find many such scenes if you walk through Shanghai's People's Park on the weekend. Hundreds of parents gather at an ad hoc "marriage market," desperately trying to find spouses for their unwed kids. Notebooks in hand, parents compare critical selling points: salaries, age, height, weight, education and ambitions.
Marriage and family is central in Chinese culture. Some parents do not see a viable future for their children if they don't have a strong family.
The market also exists because, for many eligible men, there is a shortage of women to marry.
China's one child policy lasted 35 years. For many families in China, sons are more desirable than daughters. Consequently, these parents prioritized giving birth to boys; in some cases, potential daughters were aborted, killed or abandoned.
Today, there are 30 million more men China than women.
Mostly parents and grandparents hope to make matches for their offspring, but some enterprising bachelors show up at the park themselves in search of a wife.
For these men, promoting oneself at the park to parents is less intimidating than approaching a single girl at a bar.
"I was pretty shy," said Jiao. "When I would speak with girls, my face turned red."
For many parents and suitors, finding a partner takes months. Jiao says he's ready to be decisive.
"If she likes mahjong, hurry up, let's get married ASAP.