Maria Holland

Tell Me How You Really Feel

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2010 at 12:11 am

I felt so much better this morning that I broke my 24-hour yogurt fast in the afternoon to eat a cookie.  It was a mistake, apparently.

But I still had a good time this afternoon.  I played two games of Catan with Aleid, Jelle, and Carlos, and won them both.  After Carlos dominated last time, things are back to how they should be. 

I went to see Toy Story 3 afterwards, which was everything everyone said it would be.  I really loved watching it in a theater full of young Chinese, hearing them exclaim “so amazing!” when Buzz flew across the room, and “so cute!” whenever the baby was on the screen. 

I’m out of sorts, though, perhaps an example of my mind mirroring my stomach.  Seriously, what happened to those six capsules of charcoal I ate??  I’ve been anxious all day, worried as if I was running late to something important.  But my pressing social engagements today were Catan, Toy Story, and a football game that I ended up skipping, so I don’t know what the big deal was. 

I guess XuLei got me a little bit down today, too.  I love the girl, really, and think she is one of the most caring people I know.  For example, as we were walking down ZhongShan Road she stopped to talk to a handicapped man who does calligraphy with his feet; when I asked how she knew him, she said that she just stopped to talk to him one day and gave him her phone number in case he ever needed anything.  After walking a bit further, we passed a man doing calligraphy with his mouth – he didn’t have arms either – and she said she knew him, too.

But she’s kind in a Chinese way.  While I know that she would never do anything to hurt me on purpose, sometimes it’s not enough to know intellectually that this brutal honesty is not considered rude in China.  Today was much worse than usual, with her asking me “Why is your face thin, but your stomach fat?” and “What’s with the black area under your eyes, didn’t you wear makeup today?”.  (I did wear makeup today . . . and this is why I don’t ever wear contacts in China anymore, because people constantly worry that I’m on the verge of death from sleep deprivation or something.) 

Another note on an aspect of Chinese culture that continually stuns me – bus etiquette.  I’ve gotten used to the shoving during the boarding process and the way that guys will take seats that leave girls standing while everyone will immediately give up their spot for a pregnant woman or old person.  But lately I’ve been shocked on a regular basis by what I can’t help but see as incredible self-centeredness. 

Two people get on the bus and head for the back, which has rows of four seats, separated into 2 and 2 by an aisle.  There are only two adjacent seats left.  In America, the first person would sit down and scoot over, allowing the other person to sit down on the aisle.  In China, the first person plops down in the first seat (obviously, because it’s the most convenient) and sits there expressionless while the second person awkwardly climbs over them to the window seat.  This is of course hampered by the proximity of the chairs (not enough room for me to sit straight) and the horrible bus design that puts some seats flat on the ground.

Aaah!  I can think of no circumstances under which this would be okay in America.  Even if you were already sitting in the aisle, if someone wants/needs to sit next to you, social convention dictates that you either move over or stand up to allow them to get to their seat easily. 

I wonder, what customs do we have that other people think are rude?  The habit of splitting the check, I know, but what else?

  1. Don’t be so hard on those bus passengers who take the outer seat. People do that everywhere. Maybe they know they are getting off soon or like the more space the aisle may afford. MAYBE here the person would get up, like you say, or swing their legs out to let the person in. On another note: Stop eating cookies! They make you sick and your stomach fat. ( I should know!)

    • You are crazy high on drugs, Mom! I rode the bus all summer and never saw this behavior – they would at least let you in or move their legs as best they could. And on airplanes (a comparable situation because of the tiny amount of legroom) almost no one makes their fellow passengers crawl over them, right??

  2. You don’t usually have to crawl over them, but people don’t move if they want to sit in the aisle. You win.

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