From Perth, with love
Updated: 2014-06-13 07:12
By Belle Taylor (China Daily)
|Discovering Beijing through bicycling|
Friends from home ask me how I'm handling the food ("Fine," I say, confused, although my favorite Australian biscuits are more expensive); how I get by not knowing the language (I am becoming an excellent mime); and am I worried about a brush against the law? (well, unless I decide to take up serial killing, no, not really).
But perhaps the biggest misconception I hear about China from people that haven't visited is that it is a dour, serious place. "It is really gray everywhere?" I have been asked. "Is everyone really serious?"
The answer, of course, is no.
I have had hilarious conversations with Beijing taxi drivers when neither one of us has understood a word the other is saying. I giggle with the girls at the beauty salon down the road. I've shared a laugh with shop assistants and waiters and people on the street, usually at my expense, as I try to navigate my way around the Chinese capital.
I make funny faces at cute children on the subway and am rewarded with toothless, dimpled grins. The Chinese people I work with or have met socializing tend to split into the hilarious or dull-as-dishwater categories with as much of a division as anywhere else.
It strikes me that this perception of China as a serious place comes not from the people - but the leaders. China's leaders are serious men doing serious business. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Running a nation of 1.4 billion people requires a level head.
In Australia, the public demands a little levity and can't stand anyone who takes themselves too seriously.