40 Ways to Know You’re Back in China

After a lovely holiday break, it’s back in Shanghai. There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but I could only come up with forty ways to know you are back in China. Here’s something a little less thinky than the dog meat post.

  1. Your yoga class is on the 39th floor
  2. You think an AQI of 150 is a pretty good day

    So the sky isn’t always blue. . .
  3. You’re willing to pay $18 for a container of Greek yogurt
  4. People are singing aloud to themselves on bikes and scooters
  5. Elderly men are walking down the sidewalk in their pajamas
  6. Water frequently drips on your head, but the sources can never be found *
  7. Your security guard is napping**
  8. The street sweeper is napping

    A nap in the park
  9. Your doorman is napping
  10. Your driver is napping***
  11. Your meal includes every part of the chicken
  12. Strangers ask to take photos with you

    My daughter is very obliging when this happens and has occasionally signed autographs
  13. Women you don’t know ask you to be in photos with their boyfriends
  14. The sound of flutes permeates the evening^
  15. You’re at a bird song competition (see Landscape of China’s Urban Parks)
  16. Bicyclers aggressively ring their bells
  17. Drivers aggressively honk their horns
  18. You expect a piece of candy to be hard, but it is actually gelatinous
  19. Elderly men and women are dancing in the park (refer to #15)
  20. Store names are terribly literal, such as: Green and Safe or The Great Daily Shop
  21. The smell of durian, cooking oil, and fish saturate the air (this is referred to, affectionately, as smelling like China)
  22. Your elevator floor numbers jump from 3 to 5^^
  23. Everyone is slow walking while texting (see The Constant Struggle)
  24. Taxis refuse to pick you up
  25. Raucous public arguments attract large, interested audiences
  26. You pay extra to live on the 8th floor^^^
  27. Donkey meat is on the menufullsizeoutput_ed1
  28. An elderly lady shares her umbrella with you (it’s happened)
  29. Someone just spit on your foot (it’s happened)
  30. People rarely queue for anything
  31. When you do find a queue, you cut in line and don’t feel guilty
  32. All western food products taste like China (refer back to #21)
  33. You no longer notice the sound of jackhammers
  34. Women also leave the toilet seats up (see Squatting in Zion)
  35. Drivers make U-turns in the middle of the road or at busy intersections (future blog post on this one)

    I think this is a good time for a U-turn. . .
  36. Men are walking around on a hot day with their shirts rolled up (Bang ye, also known as the Shanghai or Beijing Bikini, depending on your location)
  37. You’re dying from second-hand smoke inside your apartment even though no one in your family smokes
  38. You’re nearly killed by moving vehicles on sidewalks

    sidewalk driving light
    Sidewalks are not just for walking in Shanghai
  39. You’re  grossed out that you wore sandals on a rainy day
  40. You can’t believe you forgot to bring toilet paper with you (see Squatting in Zion)*Once, a drop of water (from an air conditioner??) landed on my lips. I spent the rest of the day worrying about contracting Legionnaires disease.

    This happens so frequently, I wonder why anyone bothers with security at all.

    Just because a lot of people nap doesn’t mean I’m implying they are lazy. Our driver, in particular, works very long hours, from before 6:00 a.m. to well after 10:00 p.m. on many days. He needs a nap or he wouldn’t get any sleep at all.

    This occurs regularly on Anfu Lu and is one of my favorite evening sounds.^^ The number four in Chinese sounds like death so it’s unlucky. Since I struggle to pronounce the number four, “si” (it’s not quite an “s” or a “z,” and the “i” is not similar to a long or short “i” in English– it sounds more like the noise you make from your throat when you’re about to scrub a dirty toilet– a cross between ugh and ewwww). I’m pretty positive I actually say death (or worse, I’ll have death) when I’m pointing to apples in the market.

    ^^^ Eight is a lucky number because the word for eight, ‘Ba,’ supposedly sounds like the word for fortune, ‘Fa’. I find it hard to believe that even in Chinese the B and F sounds are that similar. . . Have you ever confused Bart with Fart? Buck with F- – -? Bat with Fat? But we do, in fact, live on the 8th floor, and I’m pretty sure it costs more than the 7th.
    : None of these observations should be assumed to give form to the diversity and complexity of China.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ken Wade says:

    Love it! 4 in Japan is also unlucky (“shi” = 4; “shi” = death, I’m sure borrowed from Chinese in the distant past) to the point where there’s another word for 4 (“yon”) that is used for everything except counting 1-10 (and some people even use it there). Come to think of it, the number 7 is similar in Japanese. “Shichi” is often used when counting 1-10 but “nana” is used in most other situations — death is apparently more powerful than I realized. Now I need to talk to a linguist….. or a numerologist…..

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s