The Chinese are strange. Yes, I know that everyone is not the same and a person who is not from your hometown always appears to be strange with strange culture, language and customs. But the Chinese are strange.
During early winter, when the weather is cool, we enjoy walking around in our jeans, t-shirts and sandals while the Chinese are all sweating under their double layer jackets. Realising that since it is their country and that they might have different customs, we try not to tell them that all those clothes are not essential for survival. But when they start staring at our sandals and slippers it does seem strange. It is even more so when people tell you that you must wear more clothes and definitely give up those flip-flops. It is at those moments that you are supposed to feel grateful for the thought and concern the Chinese have for their fellows and outsiders.
But there are other times when the Chinese don't seem very concerned about anything.
This happened last semester, when I was waiting for my bus back to the university from the hospital where I study.
The bus stop is on the road running behind the hospital and it gives me a good view of the back entrance to the Central Hospital of Yichang city. This road is never really busy and I had been waiting for a while by a roadside shop, sheltered from the slight drizzle. And then it happened. On the other side of the road, a motorist on his not-so-cool motorbike came off a by-lane and a car rammed into him.
The little guy fell off his machine and his little yellow Chinese helmet, the kind which cannot do anything to protect anybodys head, flew off to the middle of the road. The driver of the car, after a quick glance at the fallen bike, drove off carefully so as not to run over the motorist or his little helmet. A couple of people passing by, saw that the motorist wasn't really injured and just walked on. By this time, I was already on his side of the road and had retrieved his helmet so that the other vehicles didn't crush it as they went on their way. Our motorist was trying to untwist the handlebars of his bike and was surveying the damage, which was minimal - just a broken rear-view mirror and a missing indicator light, plus the stuff that had fallen off the back of his bike.
Picture this - It is raining and I'm standing in the middle of the road with a yellow helmet in my hand. The motorist who is limping slightly is in a hurry to start his bike. One Chinese guy is standing aside trying to see if any damage was done. People and vehicles are going by on their way. As I hand him his helmet he gives me a look that says - What a strange person, I could have done it myself.
And I walked back to the bus stop with my unopened umbrella in hand.