Friday, 17 October 2014

Culture Clash 2.0

I have finally left the familiar and comfortable confines of England where I understand almost everyone (except in Glasgow) and the food is incredibly pricey.

Landing at the Berlin airport for a connection I am greeted by signs in German. "Oh yeah, says I to myself, it's going to be interesting from now on..."

While waiting in line I speak with a German guy. He is going to Beijing to maintain a water fountain he helped set up for the past olympics. In the plane -in which everything seems to be falling apart- I am seated next to a young German guy going back to the chinese town in
which he now resides after a short visit to his family in Germany. He was a backpacker until he found a job in China. He tells me of this man he knows, his job is to be "the white guy at a wedding": he shows up in suit and tie, reads in English from a piece of paper, walks around a little bit and leaves.

Next to us was an Italian woman on her way to judge a flute competition.

I landed in Beijing after an uncomfortable and sleepless 10-hour flight and made my way to the taxi stand. While waiting in line a cab driver approaches me to inspect my tattoos. Impressed, he shows me his, a koi fish jumping out of the water, in semi-quality black and white. He instructs me to follow him and I get to skip half the line.

White privilege, or the chance for him to charge extra? The latter, definitely.

When I first walked out of the airport I had initially thought that the road out was flanked by a big white building devoid of windows. As we drive out of the parking lot and my view is no longer confined between two parking lot levels I realise that this unmoving wall is in fact the sky, smoged to the point of being opaque. The sun was completely invisible.

We found my hotel amongst crooked little streets where I unpack, shower and fall asleep for a good 5 hours, forcing myself to my feet afterwards to get something to eat.

A quick walk on streets lined with cars and gray, small, rundown single story buildings housing restaurants. There is a constant flow of pedestrians and quite a few of them are starting at me for long seconds. They really return my smiles.

The snorting and spitting is something that, in a month, I will never get used to.

After a quick noodle soup (ordered by pointing at a picture on the wall) and supply run I retreat to my small room where I write these lines in a school notebook, on a small desk. My belongings are stored out on the bed, waiting to be reorganised for the Xth time.

All blogs seem to be blocked here in China, and so I write these lines on pages instead of internets. It's the first time I write by hand in something else than the equivalence of caps lock. How my teachers never complained about my handwriting I will never understand...

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