Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Love/Hate relationship

An oldie but goodie. I wrote this my second year in China. Some of the observations have been tempered with experience now, but I left every as I wrote it. Sort of like a time capsule.

First a confession, I've never been happier. I have everything I always asked for. Yes I am paying a steep price for this happiness by effectively being exiled from my family, but hey, if it were cheap everyone would have it. Now that is in the clear lets move on to the love/hate relationship every westerner, including my self, feels when on extended stay in the Orient.

Love: Guys, your ideal mate is in the Orient.
Hate: So is her whole family, they'll be moving in once you've married.

Love: There is real opportunity in the Red land.
Hate: Just not for foriegners. You'll need a local partner.

Love: The cheap labor and high desire to do business.
Hate: Trying to do business on a Chinese schedule. You thought mexican siestas were bad?

Love: Everything you could want is manufactured in China.
Hate: It's all earmarked for export.

Love: There is 10,000 years of recorded history here.
Hate: Every successive dynasty, and now Republic has re-written it.

Love: Art, poetry, philosophy, caligraphy all have enriched the culture for centuries.
Hate: A farmer rose to power and for ten years exterminated all literati, artists, and their works.

Love: There is an absolute freedom to be had here if you don't cross any political lines.
Hate: No idea where these lines are, if I've crossed them, or what will happen if I do.

Love: The bazzar is full of interesting and cool trinkets to buy for your family.
Hate: You have to send a local in to make the purchase as foriegners get ripped on prices.
Hate: Buy it, great. Ship it? A CD disk will cost 20RMB to send with a 50/50 chance of passing customs.

Love: The food. Simplicity, fresh, healthy.
Hate: The food. Innards and extremities such as heads and feet.

Love: Buddism, Taoism, the art of Zen.
Hate: The compete lack thereof in modern day China.

Love: Chinese comedy, you must see Kung Fu Hustle. The stereotypes are spot on!
Hate: Chinese TV, the stereotypes are boring and unreal. "Everyone is kung fu fighting, huh!"

Love: Some of the worlds most amazing geographical features can be seen in China. Rivers, mountains, gorges...
Hate: Each one is choked with agressive souvenier vendors, obnoxious tour buses, urban sprawl, and too many people.

Love: The concept of "face" and "honor" that is inextricably woven into the very genes of the Chinese.
Hate: Trying to figure whose face they are trying to save, much less which face is currently on display.

Love: Children go to kindergarten for three years. The schools are healthy, relaxed, fun, educational, and interesting.
Hate: From primary school on it becomes tragic as pressure for the highest marks increases exponentially.

Love: English is a national obsession and any native speaker can easily make new friends.
Hate: "do they love me or my English...?"

Love: Diet and active (no car, no elevator)lifestyle will slow, even reduce your appearances of aging.
Hate: Air/water/noise pollution, acid rain, insecticides and desease outbreaks will lower your life expectancy.

and on and on.

This was all brought on by an event in my house tonight. As free-lance teachers we have students passing through our house to our back bedroom/classroom all the time. We expect the kids to be dis-respectful of our belongings and to touch or mess with things they shouldn't, they are kids. We plan accordingly and hide all things of concern. We are irked but not excessively so when they violate our private areas by going into our bedrooms and what not, they are after all, just kids. But tonight my wife had a class of adults that ended at 9:30PM and they, in my mind, crossed a line. Our baby, who I had put to sleep with great satisfaction of a job well done, was sleeping on my bed in my bedroom when a woman came in after class ended and picked her up. The woman/student brought my baby out into the bright lights of the living room and showed her to all the other admiring students. They all cooed and clucked at baby's sleepy face and they melted at her tears as she slowly woke to a room full of strangers. I sat on the sofa nearby dumbfounded, watching as the two hours of building up to bedtime with baby unraveled in this (moronic) womans arms. Who would have guessed the West would beat time-worn East in the respect game? Even I know you dont pick up another persons sleeping baby, especially from a private bedroom at 9:30PM at night.

Love: The people. Family oriented, nice, friendly, humble, hardworking, intelligent.
Hate: The people. Self-absorbed, oblivious, rude, superstitious, and hard to trust.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Dan, the whole country is just one big contradiction!! That story about the student picking up your sleeping child is sad and yes, you had a right to be angry. I think I know why you didn't react. Good form,