It’s almost a year since I left my second home, China for good. Yet, there are some aspects of China that I really miss and some lifestyle patterns that left such a deep impact on me that they have become a part of me….
There are many a times when people around me or the people who didn’t see me for a long time tell me that I have become like a Chinese. I would simply laugh at those statements but now, almost 8 months away from my second home, here are 10 ways in which I find myself having become more like a Zhongguo ren 中国人 ( Chinese)
10. I find it weird if I am not given hot water ( kai shui 开水) or hot tea at restaurants.
This was at first a practice i found strange because i was not used to drinking hot water or green tea but as time passed by, I started enjoying the Lǜ chá (green tea) I was given at restaurants and the kai shui that was readily available anytime, anywhere. In fact, ever since I got back home, I still feel uncomfortable when I cannot find hot drinking water facilities any time I go out.
9. I miss shopping on Taobao (淘宝网)
I was introduced to the taobao culture by a Chinese friend of mine. I was told, it is one of the best place to shop in China and that I could find whatever I wanted on taobao. Taobao, is infact, China’s biggest e-shopping platform and one could find literally anything on that site. I really miss the rapid delivery service, the myriads variety of products. Although, I did encounter a few annoying experiences where the stuff I bought didn’t actually look the same in reality, Taobao remains a memorable shopping platform that I really miss.
8. I think it is completely okay for ladies to go for grocery shopping in their pyjamas
I remember being very much surprised to encounter Chinese ladies wearing their pyjamas and strolling casually through the aisles of the supermarkets, shopping for their stuff. I was later told by my Chinese counterparts that going for shopping in pyjamas is actually a sign of good social and financial status that the ladies are trying to display. Back home, this is a sight that I miss seeing.
7. I get surprised when I see motorbikes riding among cars and buses.
In China, most bike riders use the sidewalks or the pavements along with pedestrians. Bikes are always confined to bike lanes which are in fact an extension of the pedestrian sidewalk. The traffic police would issue a warning or even a fine to those who would attempt to drive along the mainstream traffic of cars and buses. Back home, I am laughed at when I wonder out aloud why the fellow bikers on the roads do not use the pavements instead.
6. I miss eating my food with my 筷子Kuaizi (chopsticks)
Seven years ago, when I landed in china, I remember I had a hard time adapting to handling the famous kuaizi or chopsticks. There were times I would carry my spoon and fork to restaurants to make sure I would be able to eat. As time went by, handling the chopsticks had become a child’s play. Now, back from China, I actually miss using my kuaizi to eat. I even find something missing whenever I am not given a pair of Kuaizi along with my meal.
5. I find it weird that parties are not held at KTV
For most Chinese, parties are synonymous of an evening at the KTV bar where the invitees all get together and hold mini singing contests, hang out and eat in the company of a wide selection of karaoke songs. Six years in China had made me adopt KTV parties as the gold standard for hosting parties. And now back home, I miss the KTV parties that my Chinese counterparts had introduced me to.
4. The sky rocketing bus fares back home make me reluctant to travel
Using 1 or 2 RMB as bus fare to travel around in China was so convenient that I had almost forgotten how exorbitant bus fares are in my home country. Travelling in China buses was really very convenient and affordable. Most of my discoveries of interesting spots were because of my bus travel. Sometimes, over crowded buses could make things difficult but buses were available to the most remote locations.
3. The sight of Open-crotch pants does not make me wince anymore
I remember feeling so weird the first time I saw Chinese kids walk around in open crotch pants (开裆裤 kaidangku). Being a medical student, I had myriads of questions about the hygiene, the health of the baby wearing the open crotch pants. I was later told that Chinese mothers prefer their kids to wear the famous kaidangku instead of nappies as nappies would promote unhygienic conditions for the kids. When I explain about kaidangku to the people back home, they wince and I often witness a certain level of criticism about it. Though, I would be able to support or refute the real advantages of open crotch pants, I can certainly say that they do no longer make me wince.
2. Have you seen my square dancing grannies?
No day can be called a day if one has not seen the dancing grannies perform their guangchang wu 广场舞 ( square dancing) in any random open space that they find every evening,no matter what the weather be like. Loud music, a synchronous dancing moves and a bunch of grannies: this is the tradition of square dancing and it is a common sight throughout china. Square dancing is a form of exercise for some, for others it is a way of making new friends and socialize. While square dancing is very much popular in China and widely practiced, it is a practice I miss witnessing from my balcony back home. Every evening as I watch the sun set, I wonder where my square dancing grannies are…
1. I think in Chinese
Most of the people agree that they tend to think in their mother tongue and later translate their thoughts into the language they are required to converse in. After six years in China, where Chinese was the one language, I heard and I spoke most often, I realized that I can conveniently think in Chinese. Also, Chinese has become an intrinsic part of my life that I sometimes end up using Chinese words in the middle of my sentences.
China will always hold a special place in my heart or I should rather say, China has become a part of me; a land that was once unknown to me has finally ended up influencing me so much.