Friday, December 23

Chinese Culture and it's Challenges

People ask me why I seem to "love" China!  I often reply that I have a "love-hate" relationship with the country that I lived in for 2008 and half of 2010.  It is very heard to comprehend life there.  It often takes a long time, and perhaps living with a Chinese family to understand what is happening.

I continue to learn.  I have visited China several times since my teaching days at the university, and I have former students visit me from time to time. In fact it has been three times that I have had house guests from China.

Just a week ago I received an email from one of my students - it was a Thursday night, and while I had some inkling that she wanted to come to Australia I was rather surprised at the email.  She had a couple of weeks earlier asked if she could come and stay with me at Christmas.  It was awkward.  I was going to be away - am going to the Gold Coast tomorrow to spend a couple of days with family.  Accommodating my young friend would have been impossible and besides I wanted to spend time with my family - I don't see them a lot.

The email that Thursday night said "I am arriving on Saturday December 17th at 11 am, can you pick me up".  Mmmm.   I already had had a house guest for nearly a week, I was so far behind with my Christmas planning, and my writing commitments, and it really didn't suit.  However, I said I would.

When I arrived at the airport, she had just walked into the Arrival Hall.  Our first task was to go to the shops - she had not brought any summer clothes with her, so we spent the next few hours wandering around the fashion shops of the Brisbane Mall.  Zara, H & M, but it was Country Road that she spent her money.

The next stop was a discount pharmacy - a place that I was to spend many hours over the following days.  And spend many dollars.  She filled her 2 suitcases with items to sell back in China.


Rubbish Man

I do know that the Chinese continually eat.  They never seem to stop.  And they are so skinny so there is a message there I think.  I cooked one evening and put the "leftovers" in a plastic container in the fridge.  My guest watched me to it and asked what I was doing.  It seems that no "leftovers" are kept in China, which is why there is so much wastage and rubbish.  I learned that the rubbish man comes daily to houses in China.  Here it is weekly as we have less rubbish!!!


Farm behind the river

When my guest arrives she asks me for a toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap etc.  We Australians take many of these things with us when we travel, but not the Chinese!

In a Museum at Ningbo
My guest also likes to wash her clothes daily.  She did it in the bathroom - until I realised what she was doing and offered her the use of the washing machine and laundry.  She does not peg her clothes on the line - just throws her garments over the line.  She also expects the washing to be dry in the morning - taking no consideration of the weather.  Luckily bats and birds did not defaecate on her clothes overnight!


In the Museum

Bananas.  I remember when I was in China I could not find bananas that suited me.  I like them perhaps slightly on the "green" side.  I don't like them brown and squashy, but that is the way the Chinese like it.

I did get some very ripe ones for her - but the smell of them nearly made me sick.  She didn't eat them quickly so the smell lingered.  Thankfully she looked at the remaining one and said it was too ripe and threw it in the bin, which I quickly emptied.

When will I ever learn everything I need to know for my guest.  I am always learning!

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