Monday, July 6, 2009

China Again

I'm Back.. in China!

* Chinese line budding, pushing and general behavior is just driving me nuts. I think the perfect story (out of hundreds) for this is when XiaoYu and I were returning from SuZhou to Nanjing via train. This is China’s version of Acela or better put: Acela is the US’s crappy imitation of China’s ‘Dong’ (Very fast) train. To set the story, we have a 8:20 train to Nanjing, there is a 8:05 train to Nanjing as well; they run very often. It’s raining sideways outside because of a massive thunderstorm and the platform is covered by a roof exactly the width of the platform; so if it’s raining sideways, you are gonna get soaked. They call the 8:05 train, people push and shove. They call our train 15 minutes later and we slowly work our way to the ticket check and terminal. It’s 20 minutes to the arrival of our train and it takes 5 minutes to do tickets and walk to the platform. Yet people are pushing and shoving. I make a comment to XiaoYu that the train is going to be late and the platform is gonna be soaked because of the rain. We get to the outside waiting area and the station staff has us cordoned off, so all the 8:20 train people are patiently waiting. Suddenly these two people (young man and old woman) duck under the cordon. With grins (like kids on Christmas Day), they look for the train and join the crowd of 8:05 people LEAVING the station. A couple of steps later they realize the crowd is exiting, they turn around and start running towards the train at the platform (still grinning). Now anyone who stopped and thought about it would realize it’s the 8:05 train on the platform, cause:
    1. it’s only 8:10, trains are never early, only late.
    2. it’s the train staff that has us cordoned off.
    3. everyone waiting has an 8:20 ticket.

At this point people realize these two jumped the line and start following them before the station staff gets everyone behind the cordon again. The 8:05 train leaves and everyone surges towards the platform. We wait cause this is the only dry spot. As we walked along the platform (after the crowds had surged past) towards our car, people are standing exactly on the line between the wet/dry spot where a burst of wind easily soaks them. The kicker for all this is the SEATS ARE ASSIGNED ON THE TICKET and if you didn’t purchase a seat you are standing ANYWAY!

* I have never wanted to lose my temper so many times and wanted to start a fight with someone as I have in the past few months. All the pushing and shoving is just getting on my nerves. We were in line in the Pearl of the East Tower in Shanghai for 1 hour. The couple behind me kept stepping on my heels every time we moved. Every time they do this I look back and stare at them. Finally I took half a step forward, waited half a second and then stepped down hard on my heels catching one of their toes. That finally did the trick. Or the other time while in line to pay, this girl kept edging into me, I was so tempted to turn around and ask her "If she was attracted me... and if she was, I was already taken, my wife was standing right beside me. If she wasn't attracted to me than did she think touching my ass every few seconds would make the cashier move any faster?" I swear I haven't had my ass touched/groped as much as I have in the past few months in China, just crazy. It could be an empty bus and they stand right beside you and bump into you. It's the opposite of personal space: the lack of physical contact with strangers just drives them nuts!

* The wedding. I guess this is the one you've all been waiting for. So I proposed to XiaoYu on May 14th after dinner at a nice sushi restaurant. She accepted. Two days later while I was sleeping in, I found out that they've (relatives and parents) been burning the lines since we announced our engagement. I was told in my still groggy state that the wedding was on for June 21st. This is where some of you might have gotten the impression the marriage was arranged. It just happened that in late June EVERYONE (I mean everyone, my dad, mom, cousins, grandmother, her cousins) who had all been overseas were all going to be home. So June 21st was chosen cause the restaurant for the reception only had that date available. On the date of the wedding I left from my 'home' (basically a hotel) with relatives and my best man (my cousin) to pick up the bride. This involved cajoling and bribing her relatives by stuffing red packets of money (1 USD bills) under doors and between cracks in the window. After passing two doors, the bride was in the last door guarded again by relatives and the bridesmaid. Questions had to be answered (birthday, favorite food, shoe size...), more red envelopes passed and promises made (Like who was doing the dishes and who was in charge of the money...). Then we toasted her parents with tea at which point I had to call them Mom/Dad, they gave us red envelopes (big ones...). Then we toasted her grandparents, mom's side who were 90+ years old and dad's side, more red envelopes were received. I carried her outside to the car and I gave her a pair of brand new shoes and we took off my parent's home (again hotel...). Tea was toasted again, she called them Mom/Dad, more red envelopes were received. Afternoon was full of photos and video taking. Dinner reception at night was basic, similar to a western wedding. No first dance but we had to toast every table. Tradition says we have to drink with everyone, so XiaoYu's dad took a rice wine bottle and filled it with water, we toasted with that. Luckily no one challenged what was in our cups, that would've been interesting after 25 tables. At the end of the day that was it. My cousins, sister, my wife, her cousins and bridesmaid all went out and got drunk that night.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'm heading home on July 26th. See you all soon!


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