Being here is both a huge challenge and an enormous blessing. Whenever someone asks how is it there – I just can’t tell it otherwise- it is ‘ups’ and ‘downs’.
The hardest things I have to face is lack of ‘normal’ communication and sketchiness in work. Since there are no non-Chinese around me, even with those few that can speak English more than ‘hello’ conversations are somewhat different and most of the time lack depth.
I also want to be in a professional, honest, demanding yet not exploiting, seeking perfection work environment. Yet, a lot of times I am not getting that.
However, the culture here is deep and fascinating!
Words have so many meanings. Actions too. To give an apple to someone means to wish them be safe. Red beans mean “I miss you”…
Last week I stayed with Andy and we went to the gallery near his apartment. The style of paintings is so different here. Chinese and (and what I remember from my trip to Korea) Koreans too use unmixed colors, changing the depth of their objects by shades. I love their sceneries and birds, and fruits. All image in one colour with a little touch of a second one that creates a strong contrast and plainly highlights the image.
Universal things are universal. People are so loving here to their guests. Anyone can see it despite the cultural differences. Andy and I went to a nearby park in the evening and then, on the way back, stopped at the street stall to try some porridge. And oh my…It was SOOOO GOOD. But even if it was not super delicious, it would have been good. What made that porridge so good was the people who were selling it. Andy can converse in Chinese. As we sat near their stall, we got to know the sellers. Another seller was selling octopus and he simply made some for us to try. So generous of him!
I used to detest the small dingy streets and their restaurants, but now I love them much more than the upscale modern shopping centers. People are so simple, loving and caring there. Food is beyond delicious and super cheap. One evening I went for a bike ride and decided to get some local layered bread. I saw some crates that are normally used for keeping bread in a lit window and entered. A family was inside. I showed what I needed. (My Chinese is at a ‘0’ level). The man put my bread in a baggy and started asking questions. Well, this is all story. Seems like nothing, but their smiles and interest simply brightened my evening. Another time with one colleague we went to a noodle restaurant around the corner. We ordered and then later, the chef came out to inquire whether it was to my liking. So special!
In those small streets there is so much action, so much happening at once: bikes, motor bikes passing, an occasional car, pedestrians, dogs…street vendors…little lights…sounds…smells…shapes…