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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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Perils of China: The Feral Foreigner    

By Garreth Humphris
2764 Views | 2 Comments | 7/3/2013 5:19:32 PM

I am sure you have seen this before - that poor deranged foreigner in some location in Asia that has taken on just a little too much local colour (or maybe too much sun, or some other chemical stimulant) and has started to look like a parody!

Case in point - one poor lost soul in my city that has decided that he wants to walk around in the Mandarin Scholar apparel - he has grown his hair long and pins it with a comb and wooden pin, two long wispy hairs from each side of his nose and a tuft of grey on the chin with a set of small round wire-framed glasses on the nose. He tops it off with black silk skullcaps hat and rice straw shoes!

It wouldn't be so bad if you could pretend he was on his way to a fancy dress party and got lost - but he insists on speaking PuTongHua with an over-aspirated super-enunciated lilt! And he has a habit of over-hearing your efforts in PuTongHua and then 'translating' into pretentious correctness. He seems to have modelled himself off one of the bad-guy characters from a popular 1920’s period soap opera that shows on local television! I notice recently, that soap opera character was captured by nationalist fighters and is being kept in a prison so I am hoping some Chinese person with a similar intent on saving the country will offer a similar alternative to the real person!

But I have noticed myself doing similar ’culturally significant activities from a non-cultural representative!’ as well, much to my chagrin!

I don't mean walking down a busy street in my pyjamas at 3pm on a Saturday...but I have found myself doing the ’Old Man in the Park Backward Shuffle'. Apparently this style of walking backwards allows you to develop the ability to sense your surroundings with items apart from your eyes! I have found that if the BBQ stand is in its correct location at the end of the street, a northerly wind is blowing and there haven't been any sinkholes that have miraculously opened up in the past few minutes, I can negotiate a fairly tortuous path walking backwards, aligning myself in the 3D space with the smells of the public toilet, the fish restaurant and the fruit shop by ensuring I stay in olfactory range of the BBQ smoke! Other marking points are the sounds of the knives being constantly sharpened in the Xinjiang Restaurant, the grinding of the ice in the Bubble Tea drink store and the abject hocking sound of the blind beggar who usually sits on the corner, clearing his throat!

Given the fact most Chinese people are oblivious to crashing into other people or that most people will get out of the way of a 6ft4, 350lb foreigner walking backwards towards them and so far I've done pretty well - only knocking over 3 kids and an old lady!

The other adaptation I have stolen from my environment is the WuShu Street Crossing Style - by placing your centre of gravity low in your pelvis, arching your knees slightly and creating a faux bearhug in the air with your arms, you are perfectly poised to cross busy roadways during rush hour. The stance places the weight evenly on the balls of the feet and toes meaning that as a e-bike approaches you and offers a glancing blow, you rotate your hips to form the 'safety cage' effect around your soft upper body and shopping with your arms - essentially pirouetting across the bicycle lane in one fluid movement! Given now every motorist (including taxi drivers) has decided that running a red light is too expensive, the bicycle riders now cause the biggest misdemeanours on the roads!

And speaking of taxi-drivers...I’ve adopted the classic Beijing style of dress - the one trouser-leg rolled up to the knee, one trouser-leg rolled down. I have been advised that the technique works effectively because of the differential heat between the two legs - one leg being 3-5 degrees cooler to than the other creates an overall feeling of coolness in the body! Of course, this coolness is not temperature dependant but visual coolness - I challenge anyway to tell a Beijing Taxi Driver he isn’t cool! Maybe he’ll give you some colour CC!

Oh yeah...the other one is I have started to adopt English translations of Chinese phrases to describe people or situations! If my mother, in her weekly telephone call, asks me how I am going, I no longer reply with "So, So... not too bad!" but “Horse, horse, tiger tiger"! I happily call my ground floor downstairs neighbours ’turtle eggs’ just before I dump my rubbish on them from my 4 storey apartment too! I’m really getting into the swing of things, aren’t I?

Ok, so some of the other ones I’ve adopted are a little rancid to explain here...but let's just say, I no longer need to take a handkerchief with me and my throat and nose are nowhere near as clogged as last summer!

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(Showing 1 to 2 of 2) 1
#2013-07-12 11:45:29 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

One Chinese style point I hope never catches on is what I call the Sichuan shirt roll, although I suspect it exists in other provinces as well. Just as the swallows coming to Capistrano is a sign of spring, Chinese men rolling up their shirts to about their nipples and exposing their midriffs is a sign of summer in Chengdu. Even more than the heat, this is the reason I flee Chengdu in the summer.

#2013-07-12 16:39:48 by prana @prana

四川的夏天,是越来越炎热了,八十年代初以前可不是这样的…………

这头睡狮子,不知道什么时候才真正的醒来。

有车、有房、有美女、有权势——不如保护好自己的生态环境…………

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