Took this photo during my misadventures at a local Chinese hospital earlier this week. I wouldn’t say the place was an Orwellian nightmare, exactly, but “creaking” definitely sounds right. Didn’t notice any scalpers, but I was plenty distracted at the time.
The days following a birth are up and down, so Jessica tells me. Some days it’s all, “I love my baby!!! I love my kids!!! I love my husband!!!” while on occasional days the smallest criticism can provoke tears. Jessica was feeling good and feisty today. She was also tired of sitting inside and so decided to brave our neighbourhood streetside vegetable market for the first time since giving birth — with our 9-day-old son in a Ergo carrier.
She knew it’d be pushing the buttons of every Chinese auntie and grannie in sight and generate non-stop commentary from the moment she stepped out the door (because she’s done it before), but she didn’t care. Besides, it’s not like she hasn’t already been accused of being an evil stepmother. ;)
Here’s what she was repeatedly criticized for during her fifteen minutes in the market:
bringing the baby outside
wearing short sleeves (it’s 20’C and sunny at the end of May)
Way back when we were preparing to bring our first infant to China, Australian friends who’d had their kid in China around the time ours was born in Canada sent us a list of everything we had to look forward to/brace ourselves for. It’s still funny (and full of valuable information)!
Shǐ just got real.One of the side-effects of planting lots of trees around your building is that it attracts people looking for some token privacy. I think I can emotionally empathize with these neighbours now.
Maybe it’s like gun laws in the USA; the people who would actually heed these signs aren’t the ones making the problem. But at least acquiring them lets off a little culture stress steam. I’ll put them up, along with some “Don’t throw garbage” signs, but our real plan is to make our own sign that says something like, “If you need to use the bathroom, you’re welcome to ring Unit 101.” The culprits are workers who are temporarily in the neighbourhood on a job (construction, installation, etc.) and who literally have nowhere to go. So we don’t really hold it against them, but I’d rather not have the ground literally right outside our windows used as a bathroom (or for naptime).
So I’m sitting on the couch about five minutes into an episode of this one show that’s supposedly the Chinese equivalent of Friends (爱情公寓) when Jessica, who’s sitting opposite where she can hear the dialogue but can’t see the screen, suddenly says, “Hey! I know that scene! They’re totally ripping that off!” Turns out this show isn’t just a similar; it actually copied parts of the script and story from the original Friends so blatantly that Chinese viewers complained on social media and the producers apologized.
(So does that make it extra Chinese?)
I’ve never even seen a full episode of the original Friends, but it’s really popular in China for learning English — the dialogue is simple, filled with digestible one-or-two-liners, and the canned laughter tells you how to understand the context (funny, sad, touching, etc.). That’s what we need, only in Chinese: something that’s easy to follow because it’s simple nearly to the point of stupid. We’re not aiming for challenging content; we’re aiming for lots of content. (And the reality of it is, nearly any Chinese TV show is challenging; you’ll need intermediate/upper-intermediate Chinese to even attempt to follow most mainstream Chinese media.)
At different language levels, you need to study in different ways. I’m in the middle of revamping my study routine — much in the spirit of what Hacking Chinese describes here — and part of that is regularly consuming more Chinese content.
Are there any Chinese TV shows you’ve actually found helpful to your language study?
We haven’t picked anything to follow yet, but we’ll take a look at 欢乐颂、我爱我家、大头儿子，小头爸爸 and 人民的民义，along with 爸爸去哪儿？, 快乐大本营 and 爱情公寓。And for whatever we watch, we’ll also try to get our hands on the subtitle files.