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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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Preparing Younger Brother for Marriage    

By Garreth Humphris
2957 Views | 1 Comments | 12/9/2011 3:01:17 PM

I was surfing around on the Internet the other day in the area that Peter likes to visit - that tatty rag of a website ChinaSmack... not that I think it is particularly offensive in it's stories - since many of these are 'popular' Chinese postings on the Chinese social media sites - I usually read it to get a picture of the 'tastelessness and crassness' of some of the “foreign” posters - as vindication that staying away from such small-minded people is a very good thing!

One poster appears to be a Chinese man living in Canada and he outlined the effort the family was making to have his wife's youngest brother married. I was genuinely amazed at the effort in which the family went to in preening the boy, aligning the families, selecting the girl, building and furnishing the house, bolstering his bank account, showing family connections in other countries and genuinely “gilding the lily” as it were for this boy. The writer made it appear as if it were a “whole family” event but one in which the ’boy’ plays little part. He identifies a girl he ’likes’ - in this case a girl in his class for years but one he was too shy to talk to - and the family marriage machine takes over. He is 24 years old, his education is over, he must be married - and it will be so!

Until recently, I took a rather dim view on this scenario... being forced into marriage. But as someone rightly pointed out to me - the western view of 'marrying for love’ is really only a recent change in behaviour - mostly since the Industrial Revolution allowed women to be freer of their workplaces and family responsibilities and able to access education and opportunities in the workforce.

Certainly if you read any of the classic English books by the Bronte sisters (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights) or Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility et al) written around the early 1800’s you will see the type of 'arrangements' through marriage that families sought to retain power, retain status or for money.

So “marriage for love” is only 100 years old at best...

Even in modern Western life - some people are more marriageable than others... the ’handsome rich doctor’ or the ’charismaticly charming lawyer’.

One of my friends would only date men with clean leather shoes - the reasoning being “if they cared enough to keep their shoes pristine, they would care enough to look after me”. In all honesty, we are still preening and prancing, collecting wealth and trinkets to entice each other... we dress to impress, ultimately to show we are worthy of mates.

So I was trying to put all this into perspective from my experience in China and Asia.

- Those girls I have known for 10 years on the perpetual ’love escalator’, dating foreigners one-after-the-other in a never ending cascade to some perceived ’higher floor’.

- The working girls that hope one day to find “happy life” with a customer. Amazing but true!

- The girls working in bars and nightclubs serving drinks, singing and dancing, hoping to find a customer to look after them and their families.

- The ladies on CLM and ALM, looking for ’Mr Right’. Glamour photos, action shots, pouts and preenings, all those things we say we dislike - but the things that get our attention!

- The guys like myself scratching stories to become ’different’ from others and somehow more appealing. Or standing in front of cars in muscle shirts. Or being sensitive, or rich, or romantic, or whatever persona we think works for us!

I hope younger brother’s marriage goes well - interestingly the writer said that this is really his wife’s last duty to her family - to get ’younger brother married’. She has fled the family, living in Canada with her husband, citizen of another country but still tied to China, to family, to honor and responsibility.

I sometimes wonder what may have been if my parents had arranged something for me - I doubt I would be swooning around China in such a devil-may-care way. I picture something different - I would probably be similar to my friends living a suburban life with 3 kids and a dog - not better, not worse, just different.

Must be getting close to the holidays...I’m going starry eyed!

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#2011-12-10 12:05:21 by Serendipity33 @Serendipity33

Interesting point- how old is Love... Older than the Universe , I'd imagine

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