Foreigners are a total gong show

First a rant, then a rave.

Sometimes Western foreigners can be a total gong show*. We (Westerners) can be helpless, clueless, self-absorbed and offensive all at once and yet still be blissfully oblivious about any of it. And the people we’re imposing on/offending don’t have culturally-appropriate ways to explicitly call us on it; they’re stuck putting up with it/us for that and other reasons.

With our friends/co-workers/employers here there’s only been one instance where I actually noticed someone say something that implicitly indicated that they were annoyed/offended. I assume there’s been other times and that I just missed them.

Like in North America only much more so, daily relationships and arrangements are navigated in a dance of implicit cues and clues. When foreigners are unaware of the things being implied what often happens is that our Chinese friends and co-workers end up bending over backwards far beyond what’s reasonable to help us with stuff we should be able to do on our own, often while absorbing culturally offensive comments and actions in the process. Typically it’s assumed here that if someone asks for help, they really really need it, so you’ll make huge sacrifices to help them out and you can expect them to do the same for you when you really really need help. Throw a foreigner into the mix who casually asks for favours and assumes people will say no if they need to, and you get situations like what’s described above.

Anyway, I just needed to get that out. So did Jessica.

I love the mid-afternoon thunderstorms here. One’s booming and drenching the neighbourhood right now. It pours buckets for an hour or two in the middle of an otherwise suffocatingly hot day. The windows fog up and collect condensation on the outside because the a/c makes it colder and more dry indoors, sort of like in North America during winter only in reverse.

*The use of this term is dedicated to Joanna and Julia.

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