Finding Nemo

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

China First Impressions

Before I get into this post, first let me say that I'm 100% certain that by the time I leave China these impressions will change.  After all, Chinese people are human beings.  They have the same wants and hopes, are driven by the same desires, and in the end like to laugh and enjoy life just like me.  But the first images you get of China do not penetrate to this level.  I have written why I think the Chinese are the way they are, and perhaps the best place to get a comprehensive view is to read The Search for Modern China.  Also, to be clear I'm definitely not talking about the Taiwanese or folks in Hong Kong who didn't suffer directly from the Cultural Revolution.

With these caveats, here they are in no particular order:

1) Screaming Chinese voices are surprisingly able to penetrate my headphones at their highest setting.

2) The hucking and spitting of large globs of phlegm, particulary by old women is very sexy.

3) Interestingly, there is a language that actually sounds harsher than German.

4) Pushing and shoving, when accepted as social norms, translate into equivalent behavior when driving.  Let's just say that both your wrestling skills and life insurance should be in order before visiting.

5) The problem with prayer is that its always egocentric.  God(s) somehow should help you and your issues above all the over billions.  In China, that is not a problem at all!  Prayers are always about getting money, and the Great Chairman in the Sky can print that stuff endlessly!  Problem solved.

6) Making money is a virtue.  Therefore, anything that contributes to making money is virtuous.  Lying to a customer about the quality of a product, when it results in a sale and the obtainment of money, is thus a virtuous act and should be congratulated like a newborn child.  (Unless its your second child, then its best to hide it in a closet when the authorities come by.)

7) Partnering with a Western company to deploy their products in China should always be accompanied by setting up a shadow clone of the company.  Then, right before the Western company debuts their product, tell the Party to boot them out of the country and sell your copycat products from your clone factory!  That makes so much freakin' money its probably more virtuous than selling melamine in milk formula!

8) Anything that is good in China is Chinese.  Especially KFC, that shit is so Chinese its not even funny.  Anything that is bad is Foreign.  Including Foreigners.  Treating foreigners like they have leprosy is your duty as a good Chinese citizen.

9) Barack Obama is lazy, doesn't travel, and is uneducated, despite the fact that has pushed through tons of legislation, is constantly overseas, and graduated from Harvard.  Just watch CCTV!  (Any channel will do, they are all the same.)

10) If you are the mayor of a real city, you will have so much construction going on citizens will have trouble walking down the street without a brick falling on their head.  That proves how up-and-coming your city is!

11) When your cell phone rings, you had better answer it!  Your life could depend on it, and even though it probably doesn't it shows how important you are.  Its best to answer a cell phone when your tour guide is screaming into her microphone, then you can scream even louder than her.  That shows you are a Boss!  Take that stupid tour guide!

12) If you are the mayor of a real city, the proper color of the sky is Communist Gray.  Communist Gray is the color of the proletariat.  A great way to achieve this is to burn so much coal that its difficult to walk down the street without getting covered in Communist Gray yourself.

13) If a freaky foreigner walks by, like a wandering monkey out of its cage, its pretty funny and very cool to take pictures of it.  Foreigners are pretty stupid, and won't notice your ginormous long-lens pretending to shoot an imaginary bird over their left shoulder, and then at the last second refocus on them.

14) If a freaky foreigner is trying to take a picture of something, a funny thing to do is to jump in their picture, and then have your friend take a picture of you with the freak!  After all, foreigners probably don't know how to work something fancy like a camera anyway, so you are doing them a favor.

15) When a freaky foreigner walks by, as soon as they are walking past, make sure you point at them and tell loudly to all your friends how strange they look!  They will never notice because they can't see very well.  And they certainly won't be walking with a foreign friend who speaks fluent Chinese and overhears you saying 'hairy monkey' when you point.

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