Ding Tao considers himself to be a happy and lucky man. He was fortunate to find love, start a family and undertake a small business selling vegetables at the market next to his wife Cheng Kou Qun, who has been with him for the last 25 years.
Although he is 50 years old he seems to be 10 years younger. Ding Tao is slender and calm. He lives in Yancheng, a city 320 Km from Shanghai, in a home with little furniture and located in rural area.
Ding Tao’s home is modest but it lacks nothing. The living room is decorated with tiles, lively colors drawings and three big mirrors; one of them is ornamented with Chineses motifs and the other two with cobalt blue crystals.
The living room connects with two spacious rooms and the kitchen is accessible via a small patio. In the garage there is the three wheels van he uses to take his merchandise to Yancheng Market. Since their marriage they have got two stalls which they manage separately in order to increase their income. Ding Tao and Cheng Kou Qun wake up every day in the middle of the night, when the rest of the city lies asleep, in order to move their business forward. At 1 a.m. they leave home with their van full of vegetables ready to be sold at the wholesale market. When the wholesale market closes at 6 a.m. they pick up their merchandise and go to the retailer market where they sell to individual clients. They get home around midday and after a brief rest they get back to work, they buy more fresh vegetables and organize the merchandise that will be sold the next day.
It is a simple but extremely hard work. This is how daily life goes for this couple that only sleep four hours a day and rest on New Year’s Day.
For many years Ding Tao made a living fixing machinery at a construction company. As things were not going well for the company he decided to start a small business with his wife to get more income and have more freedom.
The relation with his wife was not the outcome of an arranged marriage, which are so common in China.
Cheng Kou Qun and Ding Tao felt in love, had a five years relationship before getting married and now they have three kids. The Chinese Government has a strict population control policy that only allows one child per couple. After having their first daughter, Ding Tao had to pay a large amount of money to the Chinese state in order to be allowed to have two more kids until they had a baby boy.
Ding Cheng, the eldest daughter, was raised by Ding Tao and works as a shop manager in Shanghai for a European fashion company. After having another girl that grew up with her uncle, they had a son named Ding Xin that is doing his last year at university to get his degree on construction, just as his father wanted.
Ding Tao’s biggest fortune is his family. He is satisfied with his routine and his job; he doesn’t think that anything in his life needs to be changed. What he wants to transmit to his children is not to expect a rich and abundant life.
“What endures forever is not glory but inner peace”
Acknowledgements: Jesús Urgell Català and Irene Baró.