China Trip – Day 2 of 9
Even after all these years, I still marvel at any non-native-Chinese who can speak Chinese well, albeit the fact that half of the world have learned to speak English as a second language. So when my friend N.P. picked up the phone and said in Chinese, “你好討厭喔” (the literal translation would be “you are such an annoyance”, but used here as an intimate whine between friends), I was utterly impressed. She and her husband had been in China for about 3 years, living in my favorite building in the chic Former French Concession district of Shanghai. We went yoga together a couple of days later. While I was traveling in Berlin last September, I also went for a “yoga in English” session. I personally think that is the best trick up my sleeve in peeking into real local life as a tourist. It did not disappoint me.
Later that day, I also met up with another friend of mine, J.Y., who had come to Shanghai only 6 months earlier with her husband and two kids as expats. It seemed to me that everyone treats their time in China as a chapter of their life experience, as something transitory. Somewhere else, their home awaits. Hence, they explore and get a taste of the culture and local life as an outsider, and they cherish the moments, even some unpleasant ones, as if their stay was a long and extended vacation, and they are dealing with the pleasures and irritations of a common excursion.
It’s quite different for most overseas Chinese, as we uprooted from China, and planted roots abroad. It was no vacation but real and serious life. But would it be such a bad idea to treat life as a long extended vacation anyway? One might stay in luxury hotels or backpack and camp-out due to economic differences, but the experiences would be all real and true, and it would be all yours to have and no one can take them away from you. And at the very least, it would be fun!