Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Random Musings

Last night was Halloween, no trick-or-treaters and no horror movies on TV. CCTV did show “Tora, Tora, Tora” (for you Gen-X’ers this is a movie about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor). It was dubbed over in Chinese so all the actors spoke Mandarin, both the American and the Japanese, and that was kind of weird. I don’t mind the American actors being dubbed over as Chinese, but I want my Japanese actors to sound like Japanese!

The European equivalent of Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi’s recent visit to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine would be for the German Chancellor to visit a church honoring Hitler. At least the Germans apologized for what they did, the Japanese have not…instead they have re-written their history books.

I have seen just about everything here - fast food, discos, garages, car washes, veterinary clinics, shopping malls, subways — everything that we have in America. BUT one thing I have not seen is funeral homes and graveyards. What happens when someone dies here? Does anybody know? Nate Fischer, where are you?

I saw this sign recently at a Chinese factory. “No Quality - No Future!” Think about it. The Chinese are becoming more and more aware that it is not good enough just to produce a cheap product, but they must produce quality products as well.

Chinese love game shows and they will make a game show of anything. They now have a gameshow version of “Antiques Roadshow” where people bring antiques for the experts to appraise. The studio audience is divided into teams and they also make a guess of the value. The team with the most “closest” estimates wins.

What is eaten in the US and is called “Chinese food” is NOT anything like the real food eaten here. Most Chinese prefer white rice to fried rice. What Americans call “pot stickers” is called “dumplings” here. Each province has it’s own unique dishes and styles of cooking. “Sweet and sour” dishes are Cantonese. Spicy dishes are normally found in Sichuan (szechuan) and Hunan provinces. Rice is the staple grain in south China whereas flour is the staple grain in north China. Therefore north China is known more for dumplings, noodles and bread with every meal and south China is known for rice at every meal.

In China, sidewalks and red lights are merely suggestions.

Whoever invented the horn and the motorcycle should have them both put “where the sun don’t shine”. And whoever figured out that you could put an air horn (like from semi truck) on a motorcycle should be doubly cursed. I think more people die here from heart attacks from hearing these horns than by actually being hit by motorcycles.

Everyone here loves to say “hello” (in English) to foreigners. They like to do this while passing you on the sidewalk, while you are in motion. That way they do not have to actually engage you in an ACTUAL English conversation. I call this “hit and run” English. When I first came here, this amused me, then it annoyed me, now I stop, run them down and reply in Chinese, “Dui bu qi, wo ting bu dong yingwen. Wo zhi hui shuo Putonghua. Ru guo ni hui shuo yingwen, ni ke bu ke yi jiao wo?” Which means, “I’m sorry. I don’t understand English. I can only speak Chinese. If you can speak English, can you teach me?” This really confuses the hell out of the “hit and run” English speaker. Sorry, but I am a bit of a smart-ass.

All Asians DO NOT turn the “l” sound into the “r” sound. Chinese people pronounce l’s quite nicely so please do not stereotype Chinese with other Asian languages.

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