Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Different worlds

Different way of looking at things

Yesterday came with a blue sky, a shining sun and running-friendly temperature, so we decided to be a bit active and go for a middle-of-the-day-run (something you normally aren't able to do). It was still quite chilly outside so we dressed accordingly: I was in a serious looking running set of matching pants and jacket (made for running during the Scandinavian winter so this is the real stuff.. making me look as a total running-geek, I swear that if you didn't know better you could have actually taken me for a professional runner), tomato-red Asics, GPS on arm, HR monitor on chest and watch on hand. Bf didn't look quite as cool as me but hands up for a fair effort: running shoes, Adidas pants and a sporty looking sweater. On our way to the gate we met a large group of caretakers that are working on the yards of our living complex. Dressed in blue, carrying their shovels and brooms, most of them were looking happy as ever. As it was around 1pm we guessed they'd all just had lunch and were on their way back to work.

I normally chit-chat to one of the women who works outside our building. She's in her early 50ies and is the sweetest thing, even though I can only understand about 20% of everything she's saying (we are talking heavy Suzhou dialect here!) Today, she was in the group of caretakers and when she saw me her face lit up:

-Hi Gu Niang (she calls me that), where are you off to today? Going to the city to do some shopping? Buy stuff? Or to a restaurant to eat?

-Eh.... no!! We are going for a run actually! Exercise, you know?

-Oh! Really!?


Once we passed each other I turned to my bf, going:

-Oh my... how can she think we are going shopping when we are dressed like THIS?! And we started laughing.

Then, I heard the group of caretakers:

-They are going running! Hahahhahaha... RUNNING?! On a day like this!? Hahahaha, laowais are so strange! And they all laughed their lungs out.

We sure come from different worlds.

34 comments:

flyingfish said...

Man, how true is that! I still can't wrap my head around it most of the time. I think I must have been fed too much "basic common link" thinking by my Kennedy-Democrat parents, because I keep expecting way more common ground than actually exists. Well, OK, I guess don't think there's such a thing as over-emphasizing our common ground, but I sure grew up unprepared for the extent of our differences.

Your funny, sprightly post really illuminates the culture gap very deftly. Well done!

Magnus said...

I've seen this over and over again.
And being an American living in China for a couple years... sometimes I've even been shocked at the random foreigner running on a cold day...

But at the same time if you are up at 6:30am and you see your neighbor leaving the house you would ask the same question? Going out? Shopping?
She would think, going shopping in this? Heck no. I'm going to do my exercises! TAI QI with my girlfriends. Or we'll dance with swords!!

To which you would give a big HMMMPh... and go back to bed.

Am I right?

Jonna Wibelius said...

Flyingfish -I know.. but in a way, isn't it awesome to live at a place where no common ground exists!? Sometimes I find it frustrating, but some days, like yesterday, I find it rather fascinating and refreshing! Although I cannot help disliking the fact that so many Chinese people laugh at me when they see me out running. I keep telling myself they r just jealous... ehum...

Magnus -yeah, you're right. It's funny how we always 'assume things' and draw perceptions from how things look rather than how things really are... I guess most of us are 'too busy' to even find out.

Anonymous said...

That's culture difference. That's why westerns don't understand why Chinese don't like west style democracy.

henzy said...

congrats on being a blog of note

ping said...

hahaha! this is funny!~
gu niang, i like your blog.

Writer said...

Congrats on being a blog of note. I plan on visiting your blog again to see how everything is going.

Helena said...

Interesting blog and nice photos. :-) But how about the problems of China? Have you seen any of that? Massive environmental problems, human right violations, animal abuse, censorship etc. There's been so much talk about that here in the West that I'm always wondering why bloggers who write from China don't usually mention any of that.

Pagani said...

You are the coolest! :) I love to go places, but only in my imagination.

reyjr said...

I agree!

Some more amusing differences:
I am from the Philippines, and when we were in Vienna, I think that was around June 2003, the Austrians were all under the sun having Tichy ice cream while we Filipinos were in jackets and scarves. :p

Oh! and we also carry umbrellas, not just for the rain, but for the sun too. :p

Congrats on the blog of note!

Reggie said...

Adorable, chock full of personality.

JOSEPH GELB said...

very good point. the lifeways of the world are mad different, which is a great lesson

Lisa said...

You are one brave, adventurous girl!
Blessings - lisa

justin manas prince jaspher ligin said...

great culture gap..

Chinese Language Lesson said...

speaking to local people is a great way to practice our Chinese language.

Rachete said...

I like your blog.

http://racheteapaintersdiary.blogspot.com/

willow said...

Interesting blog! Congrats on being chosen "Blog of Note"! :)

NeversayDie said...

So true! Well, I'm from India and it being so diversified in itself makes us feel that there are multiple worlds in India itself :) . Keep Blogging and have fun!

Neozinho said...

China, huh? Cool! I loved your histories! Are you ever comming to Brazil? Congratulations, Jonna! Nice blog!

mjuk-ideesalon said...

Hi Jonna,
I lived for about five years in Leipzig (former eastern Germany) and in the first year the people I met could not believe what I was doing - I just went running in my spare time. After the second year so many others joined may way and even the city marathon, which was really unpopular started becomming an event by now, with people standing on the streets and clapping their hands! Five years ago there was nobody watching and on the streets there was still traffic, with cars overtaking and hooting. As you can see also places in Europe are sometimes from another world :-)

Hejsan Ylva

Bran said...

Just a passer, passing along something helpful to me. Chinesepod

That's where I got started with learning the language before I moved to Beijing. It's a great site with a huge amount of free content. There's plenty of interaction by the staff and the site's depth is perhaps unrivaled.

Great for mp3/on-the-go practice, too.

Have fun,
b

It's Just Me said...

I love the story. Congrats on being blog of note. I hear it is a bumpy ride!

Roy Bishop said...

Jonna, congratulations on the selection as a blog of note; it gives me a chance to look at blogs I might normally never come across. As a geography teacher, I’ve read your posts and like how you compare the different cultures. What great experiences you’ve had in all the places you’ve lived. Thanks for sharing.

The Super Buzz said...

Hi, also from Sweden. Recognize the Chinese photos,they most be from Shanghai. Good Luck!

Fernando Miguel Santos said...

Jonna Wibelius,

How different and similar are we! I'm a portuguese writer and would love to go to Sweden, but just in holliday (this is the difference). I love to write (it's my life, as also nursing, the course I'm finishing this year) and learn new languages too. In Portugal is not common to speak 5 languages, but I think we only know each other cultures when we can feel the true power of the others' words.
One day, who knows, I will have my books translated and you can read or, if you don't mind, please come to Portugal and take the opportunity of learning how beautiful portuguese language is. I ensure you that is the best in the whole world.

Warm wishes,
Fernando Miguel Santos
www.fernandomiguelsantos.com

Tanna said...

LOL! Reminds me of a similar experience in Mexico. A child spoke to his mother as we ran past in the mid-day heat, "las locas." LOL.

Al .M said...

thats cool. China sounds pretty sweet!

My {S.T.U.F.F.} :: said...

{LUV} the post...
yeah...'what a different world...than where we come from...'

P.S.: CONGRATS!! on being
'THE BLOG OF NOTE'

Jonna Wibelius said...

Thank you everybody for your wonderful comments! I had no idea that something like 'blog of note' even existed but now I sure do!! (and thanks to the blogger team that picked me! wiiiiii!!!) I haven't had time to look at everyone's pages but I will... I will post in a bit again. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone being so nice!

Samuel said...

Your lucky to move around so much. Sounds like you don't take it for grantite either, great job.

Jorran said...

I like the photos, I will def follow your blog. It does show the diversity in culture and your writing showed it very well too.

stacy said...

okay - someone explain that sign to me?

love the blog, will be back.

Julz said...

I love your blog! Thanks for taking everyone along for the ride. I wish I could travel but it's not in the stars for me (at least for now). I will live vicariously through you :)

Stone said...

I saw your blog and pictures. I love them. I can really tell you love China.