Today's living styles -- ease and convenience
Lu Muping, a 54-year-old woman, enjoys cooking in her small but modern kitchen.
All kinds of modern cookware such as a microwave oven, soybean milk machine, induction cooker, muller and electric pressure cooker can all be found.
"I like cooking, and all these electronic products help me make delicious food and use less time and energy," Lu said.
Every time she goes shopping and finds new cookware, she likes to give it a try.
"Such stuff used for cooking, as well as other household appliances, make life more and more easy, convenient and comfortable," she said.
"Convenience is everywhere in our daily lives," Lu said.
She remembers that in the 1970s, before she got married, she lived with her parents, six sisters and brothers in only two rooms with a total living space of 20 square metres.
Without a kitchen or wash room, her family members needed to go to a public toilet and to carry water from a water pipe dozens of metres away from their home for cooking, drinking and other daily use.
And everything had to be done by hand. At that time, washing bed sheets was the most difficult thing for her.
Some 25 years later, Lu, together with her husband and her son, live in a three-bedroom house in the centre of Beijing.
All kinds of machines help her do the housework.
And her family owns another apartment in Qian'an city in North China's Hebei Province, where Lu worked previously.
She was an accountant for a mining base of Shougang Group and is now retired.
"It is also very convenient when people shop today, one can buy anything anywhere at any time," Lu said.
It was much different in the 1970s.
In 1978 when Lu's son was born, she went to many places and asked help from friends and relatives, trying to buy milk powder.
Lu's experiences are representative of many Chinese people.
Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, and especially after the country's reform and opening up from 1978, China has witnessed fast economic development and people's lives have improved drastically in every aspect.
In terms of food market supplies, the number and types of products has been raised remarkably.
Statistics indicate in 2003, the amount of per capita grain output was 334 kilograms, and the amount of per capita meat, milk and aquatic products supplies reached 42.7 kilograms, 13.6 kilograms and 36.5 kilograms respectively, all exceeding world average levels.
In early 1980s, Chinese people had to have coupons to purchase rice, sugar, oil and many other products, because of shortages.
Wang Yulan, a teacher in her 50s working in a primary school in Beijing's northwest areas, said that when she was married, she needed to use her marriage certificate to obtain a coupon for buying a wardrobe.
There were altogether over 70 kinds of coupons at that time.
And food people could buy was rationed every month.
Only during spring festivals, did families have quotas to buy 100 grams of melon seeds and 100 grams of peanuts.
"People yearned for the holiday, when they could eat something special and have new clothes to wear," she said.
But today there are no restrictions any longer, and every day is like New Year's Day.
Some people are complaining that commodity prices are rising too fast, but incomes have also increased, she added.
"There is nothing to complain about. I am satisfied with my current living conditions," Wang said.
She recalled her family having hard times in the 1970s.
When her son was born, her mother came to Beijing from her hometown to help take care of the baby.
After her mother stayed at her home for a year, the old lady said: "I did not even have one piece of watermelon this year."
At that time, a monthly family income of 80 yuan (US$9.70) did not sustain her family's basic living, they had no spare money for fruit.
At the end of every month, Wang needed to search for coins at home to buy soy sauce.
Several years later, when her monthly salary rose from 32 yuan (US$3.86) to 80 yuan (US$9.70), she was extremely happy.
"Today life is much different, now I can earn a basic monthly salary of more than 1,000 yuan (US$120), excluding awards and other earnings," she said.
Though the family income is not excessive, it offers a comfortable life, she said.
With rising income and savings, she and her family have begun to pay more attention to the quality of life.
She buys packaged foods at supermarkets, instead of buying from individual traders as people did previously.
Though prices are a little higher,quality can be ensured, she said.
In her spare time Wang visits parks, goes walking for exercise, while her husband enjoys dancing.