1. Things I miss: being literate, clean air, blending in, pedestrian right-of-way
2. Things I like about Beijing: the people are friendly, everyone dresses casually, they like the music of the Carpenters as much as I do, appreciation for and adorning oneself with “cute” and cheesy things (e.g. Garfield stickers on car, cute little animated character key chain) poses no threat to one’s adult face or masculinity (where applicable).
3. Unanticipated bizarreness: No one knows where anything is. It is useless to ask for directions. We were basically outside the building we were looking for and the people walking by were of no assistance (but didn’t hesitate to use up several minutes of our time talking through their lack of information). Even the cabdrivers have no idea how to navigate the city. The city is so large, hard to get around and so recently built that it doesn’t feel like there is an identifiable quintessential Beijing-ness. Although the other day we did have noodles in the “Beijing style” which is saying something.
4. Unforeseen challenge: balancing the desire to protect my kids from situations in which they are uncomfortable and helping them to be comfortable in a new culture. Mostly I am thinking about different social norms around other people’s kids. Strangers think nothing of coming up to jiejie (older sister) and (especially) meimei (younger sister) to touch their hair or cheeks, talk to or photograph them, etc. When they see the kids, many older women pull gifts of fresh fruit (apples, peaches) from their pockets to hand to my reluctant children. Restaurant staff want to lift meimei into the booster seat and tie a napkin around her neck. Hotel staff want to take her in and out of the taxi. I don’t want my children to feel unsafe but I also do not want them to unnecessarily reject the kind overtures of others. Not sure how I get them to recognize kindness in a new form.

This entry was posted in In Beijing, Interculturalism, Musings, The Carpenters. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Miscellany

  1. B Gillin says:

    In addition to The Carpenters’ “Yesterday Once More,” John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is also among the favorites in foreign music. Its like the early 70s never passed.

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