China came into the picture when I was in school, probably in the 6th grade and dad’s work consisted of travelling to the many cities of China. So one fine day we all decided to move there and see what it was like, living together was the main idea though. Me, my brother and my sister were sent to Beijing Hai Dian Foreign Language School (北京海淀外国语实验学校) which was for us, the first taste of the chinese people, chinese food, the language, culture, everything. I have a whole diary consisting of my escapades but this blog is not about that time or the others times I’ve spent in China. I find myself in Beijing, yet again this time in a university called Beijing Language and Culture University (北京语言大学).
Its almost been a month here now and my class is 2 days away from moving on and start with the next book. I have, unfortunately, been getting up early in the morning at 6 and going to my university which is about 16 stops and 2 changes later. So, its safe to say I’ve seen too much of chinese people on the run and observed enough to be writing this about them.
We all know that the Chinese are great with Fashion- Be it make-up, clothes, shoes, bags, everything. Ever wondered why? The Chinese focus a lot on their appearance and they are almost obsessed to look different from one another (Can’t blame them).
Everybody in their life has seen the part on one of the science channels where they show ants working together, getting the job done, travelling in lines to get to places, completely organised. Guess what the Ants and the Chinese have in common?
That has to be one major difference between the chinese and the rest of the world or at-least Indians. We have long discussions (democracy hai bhai, everyone has an opinion(s) and the freedom to discuss anything from simple useless topics like Delhi traffics on news channels to the ‘heavy’ (read: violent) discussions in the parliament for the ‘implementation’ of rules) *chuckles* and theoretically I might as well admit to you that we have the next hundred years planned out. Trust me, on paper we can paint you a very pretty picture but if you see the state of those rules and how much of what is written- is implemented-is followed, you will be if not anything else but astonished. We just write words make it look good and tuck it away for the next generation to deal with, but the Chinese? Oh-Hell-No, we’re talking Communism now. So the citizens of China have no choice but be ants. These people not only make rules but religiously follow them. Cannot-say-anything-negative-about-their-country.
One fine day CNN was covering local riots in a part of China, and in only a few seconds, what do you know, poof! The channel disappears and was banned in China for the next couple of days. Surprise, surprise. The Chinese will ban anything to keep people from saying crap about them. They can ban television channels (there are hardly any English speaking channels except the CCTV series- a bunch of scripted shows, there aren’t even English newspapers and if you do happen to find one, all of them go under a huge magnifying glass before anything gets out to the public) To give you an even better example, they can even ban me from their country for writing this blog!
The population is exploding, but ironically you wont find the streets of Beijing littered, or any car jumping red lights, or any car trying take over another car (apologies to my fellow Indians who’re confused as they don’t know what that means or looks like). They have traffic jams, yes, but lined up traffic, completely civilized (again, apologies). I’m beginning to believe the Chinese invented words like ‘organize’. Such remarkable patience.
They want to take over the world!
Have you ever noticed how the government or just about any Chinese citizen talk about status of their own country on the map of the world? You should check out the words they choose to use. If that’s not innuendo-talk for taking over the world, I don’t know what is. (looks like I haven’t been watching enough of the US government give speech).
Besides the fact that the meaning of their country’s name in Chinese means ‘center country’ which is absurd because they are far from being located at the center of the earth, they talk about themselves with such dangerous ambition, I reckon if they weren’t economically advancing as much as they are, they wouldn’t be so different from the North Koreans. I’m sometimes surprised they’re open to globalization and inter-country trade. I mean that’s like accepting you need other countries to move forward and develop economically.
Socially speaking, along with globalization, China is very proactive. The Chinese keep busy by participating in everything from meaningless television game shows to something as important as national/international sports. Hundreds of ethnic groups exist, only of which 56 are recognized by the government. Sure, sometimes there are riots- but not for long. I have no idea how they manage rebels nor would I like to know. Putting everything aside, this single-party governed country has successfully managed to be a Communist country in a world in which majority believes in Democracy or Capitalism. That means even though having the largest population they have somehow been able to control their people, develop Economically, Infrastructural-ly, even Socially!
Oh-come-on! To be good at everything is humanly impossible!
Food plays a very significant part in the chinese life and thank God it does! Its an understatement that I love their food, whether its the half fried cabbage dipped in traditional sauces or the famous hot pot or SiChuan dishes and so on. The thing about Chinese food is that there is literally no end. WangFuJin is one famous place where you’ll find street vendors selling everything from fried cockroaches to scorpions and on sticks. Recently a friend of mine told me that she heard snake meat is delicious and that we should try it …Riiight.
I am a strict chicken-lamb-pork-fish-etarian. I do not step beyond that, and nor do I plan to. Nothing other than fish intrigues me as far as seafood is concerned and beef- my religion is against and now that is forever carved on the walls of my brain. There are n number of restaurants, one after the other and please note none of them will ever be empty and so I think to myself – A restaurant business can never fail in China. Having your meals in a day is not just eating to stay alive for the Chinese, its an event.
Food is a culture of its own.
You go to a restaurant, you get a menu (read: book of options), you order dishes (soup, cold dishes, hot dishes, beverage, finally dessert anyone?) and relish the most amazing food culture in the whole world. Its amusing what the waiters at the door say to you when you’re leaving the restaurant y ‘man zou’ which means go slowly, wishing for us to get home safely. Its actually very cute and I don’t think they have that anywhere else in the world.
I have rarely ever seen chinese people fight. They’re loud talkers alright, but a verbal fight? Let alone a physical one? I doubt it. They’re not even expressively aggressive with their face like the rest of the world. Even in midst of a heated conversation between 2 Chinese focus on the other Chinese people witnessing this. They have this look on their face of either a lost child or a look which says – ‘Don’t they know its illegal to fight?’ and then swiftly making their way out of there.
Its not just their behavior, thinking or looks that separate them, its their language too.
Putting aside the phonetics involved, the Chinese language is essentially different because little do people know this but the characters are derived from pictures (Chinese Pictography). That’s unlike any other language.
This is one race who decided to do it differently.