Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Okay, real talk for a moment, I love China, I do. I love living here and all of the wonders and stresses that that brings. And in the past, we have posted about how these stresses can be wonders of their own. For one brief moment, though, I’d like to take time to highlight those things so purely Chinese that I still haven’t adjusted to? Those cultural differences that I see every day and fail to assimilate to?

“Ramming” - This term refers to when a Chinese person decides that you are in their way and chooses the tried and true method of literally ramming you out of the way. There are several different styles of ramming, but the two most popular are the shoulder to back ram and the swim move.

Except Betty White is tackling you.
For the former, it is usually a grandmother of at least 80 who digs her shoulder bone directly into your spine and rams forward until you either collapse from the force or dodge out of the way from the excruciating pain. It’s sort of like a football block in reverse? Like just imagine this grandma linebacker with her Lions’ helmet on diving into ramming action at a crosswalk because when that light turns green you better believe you weak little self that she will be the first one to step foot on the pavement.

For the latter, the swim move is especially successful without being as physical in nature. Imagine you are walking, once more, towards a busy intersection. You and twenty others are waiting for the cross walk sign to turn green. It does, you take your first step forward, then you feel and arm wrap around your middle and pull you backwards into the masses. You have been swim moved. It requires a breast stroke like motion of usually the right arm that bands across the person a half step in front of you, then you propel yourself forward by pushing this person behind you. Works like a charm while utterly bewildering the person you have used it on.

The move takes place during the 'insweep.'

You may also recognize
 the 'swim move' from football. 

Except, it's all service, all the time,
shirts as an after thought. 
“Flip Shirts” - This term refers to the male populace who, when the weather reaches a certain temperature, choose to cool down by flipping up the front of their shirt to just above their, usually rather gratuitous, stomachs. This may also be referred to as ‘Chinese Air Conditioning.’ There is no incorrect place to do this, be it the streets of the city, a low end mall, a preposterously high end mall, anywhere and everywhere, the flip shirts are in action. From young men to older, the flip shirt is not just a fashion choice, it is a life choice. It is one that says, yes, I am hot, and I am not ashamed to show it. I shall free myself from this barrier of clothing in the center of my body and embrace the fresh cooler air it brings me.

Remove the 'no' symbol and have
at littering to your heart's content. 
“Trash Release” - This term refers to habit of Chinese people finishing a drink or a food item with a wrapper and then releasing their grip on said item. Just releasing. The muscles in the hand release and the garbage they were holding onto flutters or drops heavily to the ground to be swept up at some later time by the street workers. In other areas, the ‘tomahawk’ is a popular method for disposing garbage, whereupon once you are finished with something, you chuck it with as much force and velocity as you can into the nearest bush, street, fence, etc. My understanding is that since the street workers do in fact clean all of this up, it is not seen as strange to release or tomahawk your garbage since it will eventually be disposed of anyway.

Zax's on the move! Get out the way!
“Sidewalk Chicken” - This term refers to the game in which you find yourself every single time you step foot on a sidewalk in China. Someone will inevitably be walking along the same trajectory as you in the opposite direction. It doesn’t matter if there is a wall of people next to you, a literal wall, a hole in the ground, whatever, if you do not move out of the way, you will find yourself in a head on collision with this person. They will not move. Nothing on this earth could make them step one inch to the left or right off their path. It’s like the Dr. Seuss story about the North going and South going Zax’s but instead of coming to stand still when you meet, the other Zax will run you the hell over.

This is equally applicable to bicycles or e-bikes. If a bike is head directly in your direction you best leap out of the way or be clipped at the best, run over at the worst. Yes, the entire sidewalk to your right is empty and yes there is traffic stopped to your left, but if you don’t dodge to the right, you will get destroyed. Could the bike far more easily change course and ride around you on the side that is empty? Yes. Will they? Absolutely not. Should you ever go walking in China, you will always find yourself playing Sidewalk Chicken, but just remember that you will never ever win so stay alert and ready to dodge to safety at all times.

Mmm, boiling hot water,
chicken soup for the soul.
“Hot Water” - Our final term refers to the infamous means of healing in China. Having a sore throat? Hot water. Have a bad cold? Hot water. The flu? Hot water. Food poisoning? Hot water. Broken leg? Hot water. JUST HAD A CHILD??? Hot water.

You might think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Not even a little teeny tiny bit. Because these are not random examples, my dear readers, these are conversations that I have watched happen, that I have listened to, that I have committed to memory.

So please, should you ever come to China, don’t mention any illness you have or might have unless you desire to be told that the correct and only cure, is in fact, hot water.

I love China. I love all the things that I just can’t quite adjust to. I even love the damn hot water. Culture shock never entirely dies and that isn’t only for China. I can only shudder to imagine what people find bothersome about living in America. Our obsession with Target? The excessive amount of fast food joints we have? Our love of Uggs and Northface? Who knows. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is that you embrace the differences between the cultures and remember to be grateful that you ever got to experience them at all.