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Notes about China
Naive sly guy
Because of being isolated from the external world for long time, Chinese still have some xenophobia. Even understanding at a conscious level that to deal with foreigner is favourable to him, the Chinese in depth of soul is frightened of consequences which this can bring to his way of life. It will be fair to tell, that there were quite real bases for such fears in the near past, when even those who contacted to the foreigners on the work (for instance, journalists, doctors, engineers and other qualified experts) were prosecuted as foreign spies.
The alert attitude to the foreigners is shown inconsistently: on the one hand, the Chinese considers, that as the representative of an ancient great nation he is higher than the foreigner; on the other hand, in his eyes the foreigner is a representative of civilization far advanced on the way of progress, an inhabitant of another, rich and comfortable, world.
The absolute honesty never was among the Chinese virtues. Cunning and insidiousness in relation to the foreigners in traditional Chinese literature were presented as a valour and proof of the superiority of Chinese nation above others. The Confucian directions on sincerity only to the higher levels of society because of exclusive benefit to the Chinese ruling top were cultivated for many centuries.
Inside the mind of Chinese salesman in the flea market or in private shop the deception of the foreigner is not a disgraceful act but a proof of his wisdom. Therefore they always say to foreigners the overestimated price of goods. To counteract such attempts of swindle, the great skill to bargain is extremely necessary. The author knows only one man with special talent in this area. Rumors said, that the Chinese trading in the flea market on Tianjing Street in Dalian, seeing him coming tried to hide in order not to negotiate with him; they spoke, that he was capable to buy all the flea market for ten bucks. It is certainly exaggeration, but with some grounds.
However, if to begin communicate with the Chinese on your own field, where you are obviously more competent, the picture turns to opposite. All slyness of the Chinese evaporates instantly. He believes any statement of the foreigner. The author repeatedly had to collide with the persons, whose self-conceit had no borders. As a rule, the intellect of such people is inversely proportional to self-conceit, despite of education. Talking to them, the author by way of experiment frequently told obviously tall stories, keeping a serious face. The statements were such, that a person capable to think at least a bit logically could see the obvious absurd immediately. However from foreigner's mouth it was perceived as a certain secret knowledge.
But not only the foreigners can make fools on Chinese. Among the compatriots there are much succeeded in this area. Here is an example:
Outside of hotel's window there came strange noise. The author with his co-ed had looked downwards and seen a crowd gathered around of two young people. One held a black briefcase, and second wrote hieroglyphs on asphalt with a thin spurt of crushed chalk from his fistful. Having looked to hieroglyphs, which were turned upside down to us, we had read: "Traditional wushu. National kungfu". The calligrapher had finished the work, had stood straight and addressed to spectators with the speech: "I am not only able to write, but also know the ancient art of wushu. I can break stones and jump highly". At this moment his wandering sight had fixed on us. We stood facing to window and exchanging comments that this rogue is able not only to write but to speak as well. "There are foreigners above looking here, and I can jump up and blow them out". These words we did not like. One of us with the stone face had taken a heavy clay vase from a window and started tossing it from hand to hand. The "master" had immediately chosen to forget about us.
In the meantime his partner had taken a large oblong cobble-stone from the briefcase. The talker had thrown off his stonewashed jacket, made some noisy breaths, quickly had sat down, and, holding the cobble by left hand, with furious shout has knocked on it with right one. The stone had remained unbroken. The hand too. The "master", not confused at all, screamed out again and made the second impact. An even piece had broken off a cobble-stone. The young man had risen up and continued the speech: "I am so strong and mighty, because I consume the medicine of my own formula. This medicine cures all illnesses, treats back pains and adds energy. We just have this medicine with us, and you can buy it". The second young man in the meantime had open the magic briefcase, removed the twisted stone to there, had taken a medicine out and began to execute functions of a selling point. And the "master" had continued the speech, simultaneously representing physical examination of the naive spectators, which humbly took their money out.
But the real fun was the next day. Those two friends collected crowd in front of hotel again and repeated the show. The concurrence was complete. Including the cobble-stone, which appeared the same as yesterday, and broken precisely in the same place.
Photo by A.Samoilenko
© Dmitry Alemasov
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