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Crazy/Batty/Absolutely Bananas

Popularity 8Viewed 6206 times 2016-6-27 12:05 |System category:Life| Chinese, readers, culture, making, saying

The following is a list of things that happen to me in China, that drive me straight up a wall.


For our Chinese readers: 'drive me up a wall', 'drive me bananas', 'drive me batty' are all ways to say: 'make me so crazy'.


In publishing this list – and even in the making of such a list, by no means am I suggesting that Chinese culture is bad or must be changed, nor am I saying I do not appreciate it or enjoy it (I enjoy most all facets of Chinese culture immensely). It's just these aspects, when they occur in relation to me... well, they just drive me 'round the bend!


The Guanxi Game:


It's all about reciprocity: I've done something for you, now you must do something for me. That's marvelous! Except, I didn't ask you to do something for me.


Some people I know are adept at The Guanxi Game. From small gifts to lavish dinners, always with a hidden agenda that soon becomes clear. The thing is, I would help anyone who needs whatever service or work I can provide; I don't need a dinner or a gift in order to be prodded or coerced to do so. All anyone has to do is ask.


Are you OK?


That one is usually followed by 'you should take a rest'. I don't know if it is my foreign-ness or my age that brings this on but I usually feel like a doddering old fool in the face of this type of solicitousness.


Proving my ability doesn't seem to dissuade those who are overwhelmingly concerned that I might keel over from sheer exhaustion at their feet. While climbing to our 6th floor office – and keeping pace with the freshmen who were climbing with me, a concerned party tugged my shirt and asked how I was holding up, and if I wanted to take a rest. I suppose all of the bike-riding and exercising and physical conditioning I do means nothing in the face of that much 'care'.


A cousin of that concern is the constant urge to be careful, or grabbing my arm to help me on/off the curb, to cross a road, to climb stairs, etc.


I Must Take Care Of You!


More and more I find it less fun and engaging to go out by myself. Therefore, I quite enjoy rambling around town with others. However, I must take into account that whoever I invite to accompany me will invariably take full custody of me. That goes so far as making sure I am never alone, even in the bathroom. Taking my arm when exiting the bus, carrying my bags (sometimes wresting them away) and constantly urging me to caution are par for the course. Seeing to it that I arrive home safely is the norm – not just to our campus to clear up to my apartment door.


One woman with whom I am friendly with has suggested a trip out of town. I shudder at the idea that she will take physical possession of me and my things, and not relinquish her hold until we part company. Or, I until blow my top. How do I know she would? She has done it before.


With that approach to helping the 'helpless', I wonder what such people think I do when they are not around to babysit me?


Suspended Animation


People around here apparently think I have nothing better to do than to sit around my house, just waiting for company. Thus, at any given time, a visitor is likely to drop by, unannounced and apparently thinking my house will be clean, my cupboard will overflow with snacks, and I will be ready and eager to host.


Even though I don't live like a pig, my house is not always company-ready. In extremely hot weather I might not even be fully dressed! And, even though it seems to defy the imagination, even though I am 'only at home, alone' I have plenty to keep my occupied.


Try as I might, I cannot seem to persuade people to text before a visit.


You Speak Chinese!


Somehow, after living here for 6 years, it is apparently astounding that I can speak, understand, read or write any Chinese.


In all fairness, those who don't know me, such as: street food vendors, bus drivers, merchants and the like might have reason to be surprised. But my students, colleagues and others who know how long I've been here and know of my love for learning could intuit that, in order to live in this corner of Wuhan, where there are no foreigner concessions or any other foreigners, I must have learned at least some Chinese. How would I shop for food, otherwise?


Again, I'm not sure whether this phenomenon is a result of my foreign-ness or my age. I respect that Chinese is a complex language that is difficult to learn. Difficult, not impossible


Let me help you!


This is usually said in the context of my doing something relatively mild, such as carrying something or putting on my coat but sometimes will extend to tying my shoes or getting on a bus. I've learned to accept this type of help.


Paradoxically, when I really need help and ask for it, I am met with evasiveness. If it is something beyond my ability to deal with myself, I live with frustration. Otherwise, I try figure things out by myself and, after the situation is resolved, I am treated to grand displays of amazement.


Let me stress: I am not at all opposed to Chinese culture in any of its facets. That is not what this article is about. I understand those displays of caring are meant to show respect; guanxi is an integral part of Chinese culture and, for a foreigner to speak any measure of Chinese is remarkable, in the sense that anyone who can speak more than one language is remarkable. I just wish all of that culture didn't have to get in the way of friendship. I worry that all that deference could be keeping us from enjoying a mutually respectful relationship – by respect, I mean of each other and our abilities, not of my 'advanced' age or foreign-ness.


Has anyone else experienced these acts? Been a victim of such frustrations?


Now, the tables are turned. What habits or aspects of foreigners drive Chinese people crazy?

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


Passing

Eggs

Flowers

Shake hands
2

Ray

Friends who just made a statement (2 Person)

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Reply Report AndrewCraven 2016-6-27 16:31
I cannot count clearly how many times I have been ignored by the avatars of foreign face on the internet. Did they read some instructions that told them to ignore Chinese netizens, or misfortune would come down on them? I guess they must have read something before they logged on.   Oh, one thing I almost forgot is that before having a chat, the foreign males would ask "are you a man or woman?" If I said man, then silence reigned in the conversation.  That made me sick of their hidden intentions.

According to the things happening in China, I am sometimes tired of these too . The Guanxi game made me whirled.
Reply Report Chengking 2016-6-28 09:57
Sorry, I send the "Ray" by mistake.  
Reply Report Chengking 2016-6-28 10:46
Have been here twenty years and still can't get into this "doing things by group effort" thing, or, in your words, helping when help is not needed. I am guilty more of "not helping out" as judged by my significant other.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-6-28 11:35
AndrewCraven: I cannot count clearly how many times I have been ignored by the avatars of foreign face on the internet. Did they read some instructions that told th ...
Dear, I cannot speak for everyone but I can tell you of a phenomenon I've had firsthand experience with: "English Bubble". One woman that I knew, and all of her friends refused to have anything to do with Chinese culture or people, insisting she was only here for a job and intended to preserve her foreign-ness at all costs. When we went out, she was rude to the people we interacted with, such as vendors at the night market. She refused to learn any Chinese or take buses, choosing instead to ride taxis everywhere. That could be one reason why people of other nations won't speak to you on the 'net.
Of course, the other reason is that they are looking for girls. You really don't want to talk to those people, anyway. Better that they won't speak with you!
(But maybe, when they ask what your gender is, you could answer: 'what does it matter? We're only here to talk, aren't we?'    )
In a way, it is a strange validation: a Chinese man affirming my list of 'crazy things' drives him crazy too. Thanks for your support!
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-6-28 14:20
Chengking: Have been here twenty years and still can't get into this "doing things by group effort" thing, or, in your words, helping when help is not  ...
I'm glad to see I'm not twisting seemingly acceptable practices out of proportion. Thanks for the validation.
However, your comment raises another question...
I presume you are male? Do men get 'helped' as much as women do?
(As I've noticed, men are permitted to operate under their own steam inasmuch as possible but women get 'helped' to death).
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-6-28 20:43
Some of these are nothing to do with your age...

I have been pushed across roads by 18 yo boys who have quite literally got my back, making sure I dont fall down...

I think its just a caring culture
Reply Report Dracarys 2016-6-28 22:14
sometimes you think you blend into a society or a circle but actually you don't ..  hope you find ways to solve your problem ..
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-6-28 22:20
Chengking: Sorry, I send the "Ray" by mistake.   
I'm not sure what a ray means... But, if eggs are 'passing', then surely the other end of the spectrum is 'supreme'?  
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-6-29 10:07
Dracarys: sometimes you think you blend into a society or a circle but actually you don't ..  hope you find ways to solve your problem ..
Step one: resignation. If I want company/friends, I must resign myself to their ways.
Step two: assiduous avoidance, practiced selectively.
There are worse aggravations in life, my friend. Imagine if I were friendless!  
Thanks for your caring and concern. Wish you a great day.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-6-29 10:11
seanboyce88: Some of these are nothing to do with your age...

I have been pushed across roads by 18 yo boys who have quite literally got my back, making sure I do ...
It is good to know that this type of over-solicitousness afflicts all ages and genders. Thanks!
Strangely enough, though: males tend to leave me to compete or keep up with them with little to no assistance. It is females of all ages who turn me senile. Maybe caring is divided by/between gender lines?
Food for thought...
Reply Report Chengking 2016-6-29 11:20
teamkrejados: I'm not sure what a ray means... But, if eggs are 'passing', then surely the other end of the spectrum is 'supreme'?   
Oh, I thought sending the "Ray" equates to zapping you. Maybe I am mistaken?  
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-6-29 11:57
Chengking: Oh, I thought sending the "Ray" equates to zapping you. Maybe I am mistaken?   
Who knows? I don't think those 'statements' have ever been properly explained.
No worries, my friend. An occasional ZAP can be good for a body, don't you know!  
Reply Report jaseminsibo 2016-6-30 09:31
hahahaha i always like reading your entertaining articles! tq for creating them :)
Reply Report voice_cd 2016-6-30 11:03
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it.
Reply Report samlam 2016-6-30 16:23
You have already become a "Chinese".
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-6-30 18:34
jaseminsibo: hahahaha i always like reading your entertaining articles! tq for creating them :)
My pleasure! I should head to your page directly, so I can see what's on your mind these days.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-6-30 18:34
samlam: You have already become a "Chinese".
Because I am treated to those behaviors, or because they drive me crazy?  
Reply Report jaseminsibo 2016-7-1 07:39
teamkrejados: My pleasure! I should head to your page directly, so I can see what's on your mind these days.
yes please!! :D
Reply Report samlam 2016-7-1 09:42
teamkrejados: Because I am treated to those behaviors, or because they drive me crazy?   
I mean you know a lot about China.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-7-1 18:08
samlam: I mean you know a lot about China.
Ah! Got it. Thanks!

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