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Hu needs hygiene? E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Bro Fan
It’s just one of those inescapable facts of life here in China that foreigners will complain a lot. Whether it be over a weekday evening beer (why do you guys not have any cold ones?!), an office gossip session (can she please change that sodding ringtone?), or red-faced in the supermarket (what do you mean you’re out of Roquefort?), we will whinge, moan and grumble until the ringworm-ridden cows come home.

But it’s not just us waiguoren. Believe me, Chinese can put us to shame in the groaning stakes. It’s just that most of the time it goes over our collective head, we’re not listening, we don’t understand, and the subject more often than not lies far, far from our sphere of interest.

Well actually, most complaints aren’t in any way interesting, its just when it’s in English, directed solely at you, and separating you from your mid-afternoon doze, your attention is captured, whether you like it or not.

What tops the list, I wonder, for all time top ten Sinowhinges?

I wouldn’t care to hazard a guess (but be my guest), but I daresay hygiene might figure fairly highly on such an esteemed compilation. Remember the first time you set foot in the grimy Hunan noodle shack and were obliged to swallow a few mouthfuls of beef tendon? The first occasion your taxi driver stood on the brakes, only to open his door and lavish you with a first-class display of full-depth expectoration? And how many a traveller’s tale takes the public latrine as a subject when it is their turn to spin a yarn around the campfire?

Well, on this last point, it seems we, as foreigners, are not alone.

The longer we stay here, the greater our tolerance for long-distance bus station lavatories, the public latrines in Xi'an, and the public outhouse that consists of no more than a few characters scrawled on a large brick wall inviting you to do your business ‘as tidily as possible’.

We learn to get over it, suck it up (as ’twere), and chalk it down to experience. You would have thought, however, that the powers that be would lead by example.

Not so, it seems.

No doubt slightly concerned about the state of his own country’s loos, President Hu Jintao will not leave the mainland without being equipped with his own personal toilet seat, according to a reputable source. On his world tours to such savage nations as Spain, Germany and to those soap-dodging Brits, Hu will lug around his bathroom furniture, clearly deeply mistrustful of the efficiency of Jif and bleach.

Intrigued, but not convinced, I got digging around, determined to find some confirmation, however spurious, about this. So then, to the embassy.

“Erm… we don’t really have much comment to make about this” replied a somewhat baffled man on the other end of the line, “but we can confirm there is truth behind the rumour”.

So there you have it. The truth behind Hu’s toilette. The mind boggles just thinking about the trend this could start amongst China’s movers and shakers, laptop in one hand, mahogany comfort seat under the other arm. Standard issue for all upwardly-mobile professionals, if you ask me.

Our valuable Editor Bro Fan has been with us since Sunday, 06 June 2010.

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