I’m perfect for China

After reading some other lowai blogs, I couldn’t help but feel a little bad with how strongly I identified with some of the shitty behaviour that really irks a lot of foreigners here. Not that I entirely understand or fully relate to it all (please god), but there are some…. Here is a perfect example of both the behaviour, and the foreigner pointing it out: I was reading Pudding and Chopsticks (or perhaps devouring is the better word) the other day. I discovered it, and I read it all. Pretty much. And the same went for Understanding China One Blog At A Time.

So example one – one day, I spent around… oh, around 2 hours reading blogs. Probably more. During work.

The wasting of time. Or to put it another way, the lack of value for time here. Obviously there are a few factors at play here. But let’s touch on how this manifests. As Pudding has mentioned, time is not spent entirely productively here. I have been wondering for ages (as I cannot read the text and of course the site design is so bad, it’s purpose is fairly unrecognisable) if I was imagining the workers in my office online shopping all day every day, but after reading his reference to Taobao, suspicions confirmed. I have seen other forms of slacking off, all fairly out in the open (to a certain extent) and apparently pretty much ok as far as the boss is concerned. There seems to be a bit of a don’t ask, don’t tell policy where accountability is concerned – on all fronts.

For instance: When I first got to this job my boss directed me to a desk with a computer and told me to research the company, the customers and ….literally dot dot dot. For about 3 weeks. Oh, he gave me a few other tasks, such as translating the Chinglish on the website we were about to launch into something a little more coherent. I think there was something else too, but I’ve forgotten. I seem to recall he disappeared for days at a time, down to Hong Kong, up to Shanghai, without ever giving me much direction, checking up on my progress or indeed expecting much work to have been done once he returned. My current (I say current, the feeling of unease has been growing since I arrived and first noticed the way things were being done/handled etc) unease with the situation is as follows:

I am a really undisciplined person. I mean, I REALLY struggle with the total lack of creativity here so the fact that we are pretty much discouraged from doing any actual DESIGNING here is already frustrating (I can’t begin to define how people are directed to produce work here. I am still observing. I’ll get back to you on that. I have a few theories. It’s not straight up copying, that I can tell, and that’s the party line, but… we’ll see). But the fact that I work pretty much completely unsupervised here is VERY dangerous. That coupled with the first month I spent here just fucking around reading blogs and stuff on the internet (also secretly watching movies, like the rest of the office etc etc) didn’t really give me too good a foundation for getting my shit done.

I do have work to do, and I do it. I feel pretty uninspired and confused in this company, we don’t have a clear direction, or customer, or message. The direction from above is – we want to make some money. And be like xyz company/label. But not copy! But make a blouse with this LV style collar. Shit… I”m getting off topic and I really did not intend to go on a personal rant about how I feel about this workplace… or not entirely.

Back to the original topic – Productivity is low here. But labour is so cheap here, it doesn’t seem to matter. I can’t for the life of me understand why my boss doesn’t hire a couple of other foreign designers – even just another one! – and get rid of the 6 other staff we have here that I can barely believe have studied design. Of course, I’ve heard things about the quality and style of education in China. As I’ve had no experience first-hand with it, other than observing my colleagues, I can’t comment on it. But it’s either a shitty education, or they have rocks in their heads. I’m (honestly) of the beleif that it’s the former. And of course, the reason he doesn’t hire some honest-to-god designers is the money. And to a smaller extent, the lack of understanding about the process of design. Coming from above him, I mean.

end Pt1.

Spitting indoors

Hawking up phlegm, for Chinese people, is as natural and regularly occuring as breathing, it would seem. I’m sure I read somewhere that it’s believed to be necessary here for good health. All I can think when I hear it is – if I had that much phlegm on the regular, I’d be going to the doctor for a checkup. Or at least take some Vitamin C…How is it possible that you have THAT MUCH stuff in your throat that needs clearing in such a violent and frequent manner?

Regardless, it’s happening and I am becoming somewhat immune to the grossness. And there has been some grossness. Once when I had arrived at the airport in Hangzhou and walked inside the main entrance, actually inside the building, my hand happened to brush my skirt over my crotchal region and I felt – SPIT. I looked down and there it was.

Spit.

On me.

Someone had spit.

And it was on me.

I will never know exactly how it happened. At first I was filled with rage at the thought that someone would have intentionally spat on me. Then I told myself that that was crazy – it was an unfortunate crossing of paths. Which is not impossible. For my sanitys sake, I must believe that this is the correct explanation. There had been a group of guys just outside the door smoking (and spitting, of course. For future reference, spitting will just go without saying).

Once I dropped my sweater on the ground at work and when I picked it up, there was a wad of phlegm on it, from the ground.

Last week I was walking through the machine room at work when I heard a guy behind me hawk, and what sounded like spit. I told myself he MUST have used a tissue or some other mode of containment to capture the loogie. I didn’t turn around to check.

But a couple of days ago I was at the airport lining up to go through security when I heard it again. And this time there was no mistaking. This guy spat on the floor in the middde of the security line at the airport.

Spit on my jumper, after I dropped it on the floor.

I pretty much give up at this point. I thought I could deal, but I know now that I probably can’t. I’m giving myself 12 months. We are 4 and counting now. Tick, tick, tick…

The Wholesomeness

When I am at the gym during the day on weekends, I enjoy cycling on the stationery bike whilst gazing out a large set of windows. As I recover in between hill intervals and some mind-melting EDM pumps up my stamina, my eyes gaze out over a park where tens, possibly hundreds of Chinese people are flying kites. It is so wholesome, it just warms my heart. And as I watch them I think, how could a culture so enamoured with such activities as kite-flying, lakeside strolling, and good, solid family values in general be so accomodating of prostitution? Not to be judgemental (I just can’t help it) but, I assume that most people would not even come close to describing whoring as anything close to wholesome, or even socially acceptable. Especially where I come from.

I wasn’t planning to ever post on this, because I have friends who work in the sex industry, and I try to be accepting of it – but I came across this post on UCOBAAT, and it inspired me to share. Here is an exerpt from the post for those too lazy to skip over-

Need a Hooker? China Has an Ap for That

Dongguan China is hooker central. The place is worse then Rio. Every third step you take, you stumble across a hooker, but that is not good enough for the Chinese.

According to wantchinatimes, they have an Apple ap to assist those who are incapable of finding the obvious. Yeah, they have a hooker finder ap in Dongguan China. I guess its no wonder that there are so many ‘business trips’ to China…

Now I wouldn’t say that the Chinese hookers bring people here for business, however serious (or not) that inference might be, but I will say that I have seen the holiest of holier-than-thou men succumb to this aspect of Chinese culture.

Sunshine and Lollipops

Pollution

 

In my infinite wisdom, on the day I started this blog, I drafted about 7 or 8 posts of ideas I had throughout the day, putting nothing more than the title and one word to remind me what to write.

And so I give you the above.

I have no clue whatsoever what I was going to write (specifically)

BUT!I can hazard a guess…

Pollution here is never too far from my mind – the air quality is so bad that the haze is visible between my window and whatever building is right across the street. Here in Winter when I mentioned it, they called it ‘fog’. I wonder what they would call it if I bothered to mention it now.

At around 6pm when I am at work a strong stench begins to pervade the stairwells at each end of the building. I have no idea what it is, only that outside they are burning something (under the cover of darkness). If I were to describe the aroma I might say ‘burning tyres’, though I’m probably wrong in guessing that. And there is no smoke visible in the building. Just a strong toxic stench that makes my skin crawl.

Scarily – the last few times I have come home to China after being away for at least a week, I have not had ‘throat burn’, as I used to get when first breathing in the air. And it would last a good couple of days. I read on someone elses blog recently, possibly here, that Chinas air quality is about 6 times the limit for ‘safe’ air quality.

Shit Stew

There will probably be a fair few references to shit as we go along here. You have been warned.

Shit Stew that actually tastes prettttty good.

So yeah. Mentioning shit, as a foreigner living in China is not unusual, you’ll come across it frequently (along with mentions of other bodily functions and/or excretions. But it’s public prevalence here IS so universally horrifying to us all that it bears reporting.

You’ll see.