It’s been a while since I posted on here, as I’ve been snowed under with work, been arrested (and released without any serious consequences) for forgetting my passport at home when I went to Starbucks, and I’ve had some health problems too.
I’ve also been making some serious changes in my life, and the countdown that starts today at T-18 is indicative of the next change. I will definitely be off-air as it were from May 4th until May 6th and possibly for slightly longer – more on this after the dates.
I thought it was time to take a look at the expatriates I’ve encountered here in China, where certain aspects of what I consider to be typical expat behaviour are magnified beyond reason.
We start with Mr. “I Love China”
This chap is an anomaly, he arrived in China after a reasonable amount of success at home. He’s past the honeymoon (the first phase of culture shock – where most expats fall madly in love with their new home, only for it all to come crashing down around their ears when they run into the next phase).
He’s deliberately turned his back on his fellow countrymen and gone native. He lives in a run down area of the city, which he swears is the only authentic way to appreciate the country. He only eats rice and stuff with copious amounts of chilli. He’s learned the language to some extent and is almost certainly living on his own rather than with a partner.
However every now and again he emerges at expat venues to lecture his fellow expats about their feelings for China. He’s convinced that China’s is the strongest economy in the world and that the country is about to “bail out” the universe. He’ll make ridiculous statements about how China now owns Europe and the United States that he cannot support with a shred of evidence.
Once he’s had a few to drink, he’ll almost certainly start an argument that allows him to use the phrase; “If you don’t like it here why don’t you just **** off home.” As though this is a practical solution for many career expats for whom China is a temporary stop on their route to the top, or for those with family ties here.
You have to wonder why these guys exist, it’s clear that their lives back home weren’t awful and that they have received minimal (if any) benefits from living here. Their Chinese friends consider them to be insane – no self respecting Chinese person wants to be anything other than Chinese, and they have no concept of why this idiot wants to dump his own culture. Their expat acquaintances sigh whenever they walk into a room, whilst these folk can be extremely articulate and good company everyone knows there’s a point in the evening when that’s going to stop and they’re going to degenerate into a pompous gibbon.
The most frightening thing of all is their inability to see the daily evidence that their claims of “China Number One!” are not in the remotest bit true. This morning I walked past a mad man on the street, he’s missing an eye and because there’s no provision for his care at a social level this maimed man has stuffed the bleeding socket with tissue paper and he sits on the corner weeping, screaming and shouting. (I sympathise I’d be doing the same thing in his shoes). If that’s the future of humanity, you can keep it – it’s not something that makes me aspire to be here forever.
This “I love China” character is the most perplexing of people for me, they’re usually intelligent and able people. And while I’m all for positivity – I’m a realist first and foremost. Nowhere in the world is “Number One” for me – everywhere I’ve been has problems and everywhere I’ve been has some wonderful points too. Sometimes I think they’ve replaced the woman (or man) that should be in their lives with a country. If that’s true then they deserve to be pitied, but for now – I prefer to avoid these people, they drive me nuts.
Next time – we’ll look at Mr. I love China’s opposite number Mr. I hate China.