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Christmas Day - Business as Usual E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Matthew Grist
Christmas in China doesn’t happen on Christmas Day. The decorations and Christmas music have been progressively increasing throughout December, but today was just another day, with shops and eateries all plying their daily trade. The canteen, for example, doesn’t have any special Christmas food. This is understandable: the Chinese have their own cultural days and festivals.

This morning, sitting in the Hotel lobby and doing a little study, (the lobby is cooler than my room!) I overheard a conversation between two Chinese women, who must have been practicing their English, (otherwise I doubt I would have been able to understand very much of their conversation!) in which they talked about young people in China today, and discussed why it might be that more and more of them are starting to celebrate Christmas, and whether in consequence they are gradually identifying less with the Chinese festivals.

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.

Racism in China E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Chikki
“No, of course there is no racism in China.” “Really?” “Yes, really. You have it in Britain, but in China, no.” It all started innocently enough. Confusion had come into the classroom and the teacher decided to use race relations as means of unmasking the light at the end of the tunnel. In terms of her aim – to illustrate the fact that people and/or countries each have their own problems and can learn from each other – the example was a justifiable one.

Her subsequent comments were perhaps less so. “Do you know the word 偏见 (pianjian)?” “No.” “It’s what happens to Asian people when they go to Britain. You know, when British people treat them badly.” In fact 偏见 means ‘prejudice’, and 歧视 (qishi) ‘discrimination’, is generally seen to represent racism. However, whether your talking racial prejudice or racial discrimination, 种族偏见 or 种族歧视, it amounts to more or less the same thing. These discoveries only came post-dictionary consultation, though, so they aren’t too relevant to the conversation.

Empty Orchestra E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Mary Higgins
For the sake of re-living horrible memories, I was trying to remember the absolute worst thing that has ever happened to me in China. There are a lot of things that happened *around* me, like: 1. Taking a train from Beijing to Guangzhou in 1993 when our train killed some peasant, threw his mangled body off the tracks and kept on going. 2. Watching a man bathe in manhole in Guangzhou in 1995. 3. Riding in a taxi in Shanghai in 1997.

Our taxi’s side mirror caught the handle bar of a hugging motorcyclist and we carried him a half a kilometer before the taxi driver noticed, despite my screaming. The taxi driver then hit the brakes and sent the motorist flying. We gently carried on to our destination. 4. Watching a man (yes, this is actually true) chew on a condom in the airport in Wuhan in 1998.

Xiangsheng E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Mary Higgins
Chinese people don’t react the way that you’d expect them to at many “foreign” events like plays or concerts (14 year old psychotic girls screaming for asexual non-threating wholesome Supergirls, not withstanding). Your average Chinese crowd will applaud in the wrong places or make sure that they are sitting solidly on their hands. When “Rent” was in town, I was thoroughly entertained by the audience applauding the musicians as they tuned their instruments (not a polite little clap to demonstrate their excitment that the show will soon begin but a participatory applause that the show HAD begun) and then sit in stunned silence as Karen Mok spread her legs and sang about AIDS. However, one place where Chinese people really “get it” is xiangsheng. Whether or not you like xiangsheng is irrelevant.

It’s not all their fault. E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by David A. Dayton
I drive my own car here. Some people think I’m nuts. I find it quite convenient, if not a bit stressful. If you don’t drive yourself, you may be oblivious to the traffic around. But chances are you probably sit in back and complain about the traffic and the “drivers” on the road. If you do drive you probably complain about the traffic and the other “drivers” on the road. But take comfort, it’s not just your bad attitude.

The roads in China really are the most dangerous in the world (ask WHO). So be careful and keep complaining, if it makes you feel better. If you are still complaining, and I’ll admit I am, here are some observations that will at least make you think before you flip off the next guy that cuts you off. The most important thing I’ve learned while driving here is that the biggest car in the collision always wins everytime. No, just kidding.
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