Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sadly, still no pictures. I was able to load pictures when I went to an internet cafe nearby yesterday, but just as I was finishing my post my time ran out, and I lost everything. Next time I go back there, I will keep a better watch on the time so I can put some pictures up. For now, I will relate a couple of unrelated anecdotes.

I recently read an article in the NYT that said that 80 percent of the food sold domestically in China is not up to safety standards. Exported food is nearly all considered safe, as the government is working hard to improve its products’ imagery abroad, but the same cannot be said for domestically sold food. Reading that though, I’m surprised by how little trouble I’ve had with the food. I've had food poisoning once, but no other incidents to speak of. Most of the other people in my program haven't had any problems either.

My Chinese conversation partner, Wensha, or Wendy, and I have gone out to dinner together a couple times, and I have since decided that arguing over the bill is my favorite Chinese cultural practice. Of course, this practice depends on sharing dishes, which is not often done in the US. At the end of dinner the first time, I wanted to treat her to dinner, but she wouldn’t here of it. She even quickly whipped out money and handed it to the waitress before I could, as I was also going to try to give me money to the waitress first. Next week when we went out again, I insisted on paying, and she acquiesced.

The wonderful thing about one person treating the other(s,) is that it feels nice whoever “wins.” If I get to pay, I feel so generous and magnanimous (not to mention I, will admit, rather proud of myself for having the cultural knowledge to understand that this is an important gesture) and of course, if I am being treated, well, it always feels nice to be treated to dinner, doesn’t it? Of course, the other advantage of paying this way is that you never have to figure out splitting the check, and paying for a friend ensures you will go out with them again, as they “owe” you a meal.

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