Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It's Just My Bowl of Rice
It certainly ain't no cup of tea...

One of my favorite sites (which - though still up and running - doesn't really post new material anymore) is Though to be fair, if you haven't read it before, I guess it's news. Some of you may recall the "Queue Jumper" story - also a product of's volatile love-hate relationship with the city I temporarily call home. Well, they published a list called "The Comprehensive 'You know You've Been In China Too Long...' List," rattling off 301 reasons that would indicate it's time to go home. Like, NOW.

While some of these were not relevant, I thought I'd give some commentary on the ones that hit a little too close to the mark, both to give you a sense of how 'Chinese' I've become and to ensure you that I will definitely be coming home.

#12. You have grown used to the picture quality of pirated VCDs. Well that one's a no brainer.

#24. You find yourself exiting a major highway...on your bike. Hell yeah, I do!

#30. You draw characters on your hand to make yourself understood. Chinese even do this amongst themselves, so it makes me feel like part of the club.

#36. You can't put a proper sentence together in your native language. Phone calls home serve as evidence of this.

#43. You believe that pressing the lift button 63 times will make it move faster. I swear it! The elevator definitely goes more quickly when it thinks you're angry!

#56. You use the word "Ayyiieeaaahh" every few sentences to convey surprise, pleasure, pain or anger. Think the 'oy vey' of the Chinese language...

#64. You think that a $7 shirt is a rip-off. Well it IS...

#74. You are no longer flinching every few seconds in a taxi ride. It's actually becoming sorta fun, though I pretty much bike everywhere now.

#98. When you take a cab, you give play-by-play driving directions to the driver. In fact, I have it on record from several drivers (who, frustratingly enough, INSISTED I had no idea where I was going) that I know Beijing better than most Beijingers. Score one for me!

#102. You can pick up any type of food using just your chopsticks... even peanuts. In any kind of sauce. I can even get individual grains of rice! I've been trained by the best.

#110. You no longer wonder how someone who earns US$ 400.00 per month can drive a Mercedes. Knock-off Mercedes, anyone? I kid! I think...

#112. You accept without question the mechanic/handyman's analysis that your [fill in item here] is "broken" and that it will cost you a lot of money to get it "fixed." Which is why I now try to do all my own handiwork. If all it takes is a screwdriver or a wrench, just call me the Chinese Rosie the Riveter.

#113. You find that it saves time to stand and retrieve your hand luggage while the plane is on final approach. This really only works on domestic flights, so be wary.

#117. You regard traffic signals, stop signs, and fake watch peddlers with equal disdain. They interrupt my cruise control flow!

#128. You would rather SMS someone than actually meet to talk 'face to face.' It's true. I'm pretty sure my Chinese has suffered from texting people who were sitting two tables over instead of just TALKING TO THEM.

#140. You get your first case of bronchitis and you have never smoked a cigarette in your life. My first case, and second case, and third case...This is also known as the Beijing-hacking-cough-that-never-goes-away-and-just-lingers-forever-until-you-finally-get-smart-and-go-home.

#155. You have learnt how to detect someone is in a hurry behind you, and now have the ability to not only walk very slowly but also grow eyes in the back of your head, so when they start to overtake on the right hand side, you automatically cut in and walk very slowly directly in front of them. It's only fair to even the score! Hah! Vengeance is sweet...

#162. When you are able to jump the queue because the idiot laowai left 2 centimeters between himself and the person in front of him. I can scare the living daylights out of tourists boarding the subway like the best of them!

#174. You start calling other foreigners Lao Wai. Many times. And not jokingly, either.

#199. You ask fellow foreigners the all-important question "How long have you been here?" in order to be able to properly categorize them. Anyone under 5 months ain't got nothing!

#204. You can swear in 3 different dialects. Cabbies LOVE that...

#205. Pollution, what pollution?

#211. You stop enjoying telling newcomers and tourists "all about China." It's a really big country with lots of people and really good, cheap food. There. Satisfied?

#224. There are more things strapped to your cycle than you would ever put in a car. Imagine this: two bags of groceries, a medium-sized room fan, a mop, two folding chairs and a set of pots and pans. Literally everything but the kitchen sink. I thought I would die. But it beats paying cab fare!

#227. Your family stops asking when you'll be coming back. They haven't yet. But they will.

#235. You speak Chinese to your foreign friends. Most times, I can't remember how to speak in English anyway.

#238. Chinese stop you on the street to ask for directions. True story. Once I even explained the entire bus system to a nice old Chinese man from Henan. He invited me to dine with his family. In Henan. I politely declined.

#241. The shortest distance between two points involves going through an alley. Especially during rush hour.

#248. You realize that smiling and nodding is Chinese body language for, "Go away; leave me alone." Actually, that one works all around...

#252. It has been at least 18 months since you used the word "tacky" to describe anything. Sad but true.

#266. You think of "salad" as diced apples in mayonnaise. I still prefer fresh vegetables. Order salad from a Chinese restaurant? I dare not!

#286. You get offended when people admire your chopsticks skills. Yes - I'm foreign AND I use chopsticks. Quite well in fact. The two things are NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, you know!

#287. You compiled a 3-page list of weird English first names that Chinese people of your acquaintance have chosen for themselves. My favorite one? Sean and Jason will remember this one: Sunny-like. Not just Sunny. Sunny-like. Makes me think of Sunny-D every time...
Close runners-up include Blade, Dooger, and Zeke. Oh and - by the way - Zeke is a girl.

#293. You always get a seat on a bus. Because I'm just awesome like that.

#294. You cannot say a number without making the appropriate hand sign. THAT one I can actually appreciate - otherwise I would've definitely overpaid at the bargaining tables!

Hopefully, this gives you a sense of the current state of my life in China. Any questions or additional comments should be addressed to the management.

Oh, and as a final note, I've added a guestbook to the upper right corner of the homepage. Feel free to write comments, questions, a quick NON-OBSCENE note (you know who you are...)
posted by Rachel @ 4:06 PM  
THE WILD WILD EAST: Everything you never knew you didn't know about life on the other side.
In China, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The Chinese, who call this land "home," and the expats who migrate here. My name is Rachel. I am an expat. These are my stories.
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A Brief Disclaimer:
This is a satirical site intended for the entertainment of an online audience. None of the features on this site are real (except in my own distorted view of reality), nor are they intended to harm the subjects mentioned. This site uses fictional names in all its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized or when I choose to use this site as a platform for someone's public humiliation (usually my own). Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental (or purposeful, but with good reason).

Despite the trivial nature of my random daily (sometimes weekly) musings, I hope you enjoy your stay at my site. If there is anything you need, don't hesitate to ring up the concierge, because I just travel in style like that. Have a pleasant stay and I hope that you will come see us again soon!

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