General musings and observations

(General musings and observations with no general theme or aim, but something I’ve wanted to put down on paper for some time.  I may eventually expound a bit later on one of the below.)

My wife likes to point out how rich her friends are compared to us.  She does her best to make me feel inadequate.  It’s the Chinese way to make me work harder.   As I’m a typical self confident(and might I add rather vibrant!) American male she fails miserably in this regard.  Though at times she does succeed in annoying me…ie won’t shut the fuck up, thus driving me downstairs at times.   Yet this time she came home the other day with yet another tale of one of her wealthy, Chinese friends.

My wife, along with one of her Chinese friends went off to visit a new acquaintance.  They had trouble finding the way, but eventually rolled up to a gated community.   There was an actual guard stationed there.   However, she had to push in a code in order to gain entry, and a ticket spat out giving her time of entry.  Upon finding the house, in no time at all she was told by the owner(of course another Chinese) that the value was $2milllion.   Further conversation revealed that the lady of the house was the daughter in law of a recent mayor of Hangzhou! 

Well what do you know……the owner of a nice house that happens to be married to the son of a former mayor of a large Chinese city.   Just who would have thought…..!

And just how did this sweet couple manage to make to it’s way to  the good ole’ USA…..?   Well, via Canada of course!  Modern day 走后门 if you ask me. 

And where was the lucky Master of the House?
Well, but of course he was back in the Motherland on business.  Working hard, no doubt.  Gotta leverage everything you can before POP is off to see Marx, you understand!     Time is money!

I’m on the Shenzhen subway the other day….gotta love Shenzhen, with all these new, shiny subways opening up just day and night…..and of course everyone has their damn cell phone out.   And you know how it is in China….appearances are everything!

I couldn’t help but notice how it seemed half the train had a Samsung Galaxy 3(yes, I know the 4 is out) or Note in its hands, brandishing amongst one another just how cool and aware they are.   I started to speculate…remember what I said by appearances….just how much money some of these folks probably make?  As this is mainly a migrant city, the only city in Guangdong province to my knowledge where Mandarin is spoken more on the streets than Cantonese,  a lot of these folks couldn’t be making more than 4k rmb a month. 

Even though Shenzhen is the global center for cellular parts, even a 2nd hand SS model could cost 3k and above.    How these folks are able, or willing to splurge on this type of stuff is beyond me.   Of course, my usually being the only laowai in the car, EVERYONE is curious when I pull out MY cell phone.    I usually see a lot of puzzled looks on the train.   Instant pity is taken out upon me when they see me using a Blackberry Bold.   Not even a touchscreen!    (“he must be from one of those poorer European countries”, they probably muse to themselves.)   

Rather, I’m just not stupid enough to use my Iphone 5 in China, thank you very damn much!
Like not driving in China….I know myself too well.  If I was to get into an accident with somebody, I’d just lose it.  Likewise, if I was to somehow lose my phone, or have it stolen, I’d be beside myself with rage.  So I just keep it turned off, back in the room.    Sometimes I will whip it out(the phone, dear) and take some pix in the local park….that’s abt it.

Symbolism and appearances in China are increasingly important in this country.   Somebody(everybody?) slept through the classes on the evils of materialism and the nobility of  modest appearances.    I like to think that in my country it’s actually “cool” to seem frugal.  Dare I say we like the subtlety of relative “wealth”?  We like our neighbors guessing our net worth.   We like it when we drive a 10 year old car, yet live in the biggest house in the subdivision.  Of course we also fear old age, and thus plan ahead.  In China it seems to be “screw strategic planning, let’s live for today”!    I especially find myself having this conversation with my wife, more and more.   (Hint: the downside to marrying an only child rich girl of the 80’s is they don’t know what financial planning is)

My wife drove the Civic that day to the gated community.
 Onto another example….
I have a short, chubby friend that likes to call himself “little fatty”.  小胖子。  Well, LF isn’t Rock Hudson, but he does own his own small business.   He’s a married man with 2 boys, and he must be doing something right, because me thinks he has more money than I do.  I’ve been to his factory and it’s a bit run down, with a shabby office for himself.  Yet he’s a competent enough soul.   He likes to club, and he and I get along nicely.  He likes to call me out when he has one of his women with him, to dinner, just so he can make a faux impression.    I don’t always mind, he pays the bill, and I like our conversations.   Well quite often he and I will go solo to a club.   We’ll saddle up to the bar, and I’ll buy us some drinks and we’ll chat.  Sooner or later, he wants to meet a girl.

 Well, what do you know….but Mr. Fatso just isn’t that good looking, so it’s a bit hard.  In the club, we’re all equal, and the only impression one can make is with your charm(if you get the chance!) and personable good looks.   So what is this fellows MO?  Simple….obviously,(I really have no earthly idea why), I seem to get noticed in a club where I’m the only foreigner.    You see, I don’t go to laowai clubs….. I usually play wingman.  I’ll start chatting to a lady, just enough to break the ice, and than he’ll break in and make his move.  He’s a good talker, and a charmer.  Than he’ll offer her a drink.  I tend to step aside about this time, and let Mr. LF do his work.   Pretty soon it’s time to go home. 

LF offers up an invite to a late night snack吃夜宵.   She demurs.   Than he offers her a simple ride home.  Now we have interest.  (No need for a taxi, you see. It continues to amaze me how cheap Chinese girls are.  ) Finally. LF can bring out his secret weapon.   Once the lady is outside and see’s he has an X5(pls no comments about how that’s not anything special, that half the city has one, you probably don’t, and you are as jealous as I am), the game suddenly tilts in his favor.   What chick wouldn’t want a ride home in that? 
An hour ago she wouldn’t give him the time of day.  Just another short, dark skinned, fat guy.   But once the broad sees his car, it’s game over.  A car ride leads to a number, and thusly many nice meals, as this lady realizes that LF has coin.   I can’t count how many times this guy has gotten laid, using this MO.  
I try and keep myself to a budget of 1000 rmb per week.  His personal budget is 15000 rmb. (pls ref the post I wrote earlier abt why a laowai will have an uphill struggle marrying a Chinese girl)
A very brief comment on the China Experience

Why did the Japanese Army leave China?
(The CCP defeated the KMT, resulting in their rule of China.  But who defeated the Japanese Army?)

I know a pretty, smart, very self confident 24 yr old lady with her own business.  Never mind it may or may not fail, but the fact she is willing to go this route is noteworthy.   She could easily be kept by some perverted old man.   She actually once claimed, upon my asking her why she hasn’t gone this route, that she could get 50k rmb per month.   She feels money right now though isn’t an issue, and quite honestly she spends it rather freely.  
She told me she currently has 10k rmb in the bank.

Alas her age doth tend to show the occasional gap in knowledge.

She once asked me a day after my return to China why I had jet lag…..

To the point;  upon my posing the above question to her, I rec’d the following simple response. 

Without hesitation she answered the “KMT”.

Once I explained to her the USA connection, ie the Atom Bomb, the Japanese surrender to America, etc she thought for a minute, and with a smirk replied, “I bet all the young kids today think it was the CCP that defeated Japan.”

Meanwhile, my wife didn’t know who Anne Frank was…..
I’m just saying that it seems Chinese really only learns what is relevant to China, ie the rape of Nanking, etc, and grow up rather ignorant of the outside world.  (same thing can be said of America, I know) If they are to have a conversation with a European, along with somebody from North America, they would be at an immediate disadvantage.   There is very little common thread of knowledge between these 3 cultures. Of course, the odds of a Chinese actually having a conversation with a Westerner are probably….1 in 10,000?  But China doesn’t seem to emphasize standardized, global knowledge.   Western history is irrelevant to the Chinese experience.  

Luckiest guy in China, and indefensibly low expectations.
I am extremely disappointed in who our friends’ daughters married recently.  It’s all none of my damn business, I know, but I don’t give a shit.  Set up:  a middle aged Chinese couple comes to America, and sets up an alteration shop.  Over many years, they do well enough to open another shop, buy a nice house, and live comfortably.  They have a daughter, who seems both rather smart and is a graduate of the local State school.  It’s a good University.   However, the problem in my view is the parents, being of peasant stock, really don’t seem to have very high expectations for their only child. 

Problem is upon graduation from this good school(trust me), she seems unable to get a job.   Or a boyfriend.  She seems distressed by this.  They encourage their daughter to go back to China, where she was born , but hasn’t lived in twenty years.   She soon gets a job teaching.  But she still can’t find a boyfriend.  I actually find her a bit cute, myself, and find it hard that she can’t get a bf.   Her peasant ass mom introduces her to a guy via some online dating site.    The guy is unemployed!
Now, I ask you….who on earth would want their daughter…never mind marriage, but to even want to meet an unemployed fellow for a date, that, unspoken as it is, would lead to marriage?!  Can we not have higher expectations towards our kids?

And to top it off, this dude claims he used to be a govt official! 

Who in China quits a job as a govt official
Dear….you can’t find a proper Chinese fellow in the States’ with a PhD?  Measly Masters?   

They are now married. 

Somewhere deep in the abyss of the Chinese countryside is a lonely peasant couple that is proud of their unemployed son .   


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