Friday, July 25, 2008

Same ol, same ol...

Today I went to visit a company I worked for 3 years ago... The management is Chinese/Finnish and the staff are westerners from Finland, Denmark, Belgium, France and Sweden plus some Chinese. Quite a mix, in other words.

One thing that bothers me when I visit this company is how people there (which I see about once a year when I place my annual visit) always tell me:

-Oh jonna, you look exactly the same!

(Well except for the guys. They have learned how to make a woman smile by now. Even before the take a good look at me they yell, 'JONNA YOU LOOK SO SKINNY!??!?!' And gosh, do I smile or what?!)

But seriously. I look exactly the same? Do I? really? 3 years ago my hair was reaaaaaaaaaally long! Like, really. And I believe I dressed differently. A bit more... I don't know. Colourless? And I never wore heels.

Compared to how I look now (pretty short hair, often dressed in colourful dresses and always in high heels) I believe there is a slight difference. Oh, and now I wear earrings! Before I didn't. Or did I? Well at least it feels like I didn't.

I suppose them telling me I look the same means I haven't put on weight. Or got any wrinkles. Or bad skin/cellulites/all those other things that we women are supposed to fear as we get older. So I guess their comments actually are good signs. I mean, imagine If they would have greeted me by saying:

-Jonna! Oh, you look so... healthy!

Which we all know, means: 'oh, you've put on some kilos! Good for you! (ha ha! -a NASTY 'ha ha')'

Or, they could be as blunt as my own dad was when I came home for Xmas after my first year in Australia in 2002:

-Jonna! I can tell that you have definitely not been starving over there!!!! Ho ho ho!!! Been putting on some kilos haven't ya?!
And then mom almost killed him. But it was too late. I didn't touch the Xmas pudding that year.

Meeting the Chinese management at this company is always different though. The managing director is from Beijing, so he's a very honest and direct man. He always tells me if I look skinnier/fatter than last time we met. This time he said nothing though. Very unlike him. I wonder what that means? (interpretation skills, anyone?!)

Anyways, after we'd finished those friendly greetings I proceeded into being introduced to some new Chinese people working for the company. Two of them are Shanghai girls and they were over the moon when I greeted them with a 'Nong hao!'

Actually, they were so happy to see me that the CEO suggested they'd join us for a beer after work.

-'Of course!!!' They gushed. 'We'd love to!!!'

Then I went to have a meeting with a journalist and the deputy editor, and when we 30 nmin later returned back to the office, at 5.15pm ('xia ban'/finish time is at 5pm) the place was empty. Everyone had left. Including the 2 'so-keen-for-some-after-work-beer-girls.'

I guess some things, just like my looks (apparently?) never change.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have been secretly reading your blog for a few weeks. I think you have the best blog in China. Your posts are never plain and you can really WRITE stories. Keep the good work up!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Anthony -thanks a lot. That's so nice of u to say (and so nice for me to hear -I've got a huge, giddy smile on my face right now) I love writing and sharing/telling stories so I have found that blogging suits me perfectly. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know about you, but I would certainly like to look the same till the day I die!

Anonymous said...

I think some Chinese are really punctual. They expect to show up with a deviation of +/- 5 minutes, even for very causal events or gatherings. Once in Luxembourg I came across Chinese who got frustrated by the stylish French delay. They were invited and showed up in a pub on time whilst other Western colleagues arrived around 15-30 minutes late. It seems that those Chinese really took the ‘hanging out’ as serious business appointment.

It appears to me that Chinese who have been working in joint ventures for a long time adjust themselves to the Western business culture with respect to time management and difference between working hours and personal time. They tend to be much ‘less generous’ in devoting their after-work time to hanging-over or networking than Chinese from other circles.

Nevertheless, it is always safe to call or message Chinese again to confirm your intension or invitation if a late showing-up is inevitable.