Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cross cultural hurdles

Last week I was in the Hepatology dept. and was talking to one of the doctors there. Out of the blue, he asked me what I thought about Chinese economy. I started out on a winding comparison of Indian and Chinese economies when he cut in and said,"No, not economy... just China." Observing my puzzled expression, he asked me,"Where would you like to live, India or China?" My answer was of course India and he wanted to know why I didn't choose China. "Less freedom", I promptly answered. He looked rather sad when I said that and remarked to his colleague next to him how most of the foreign people seemed to think that there is no freedom in China. He said to me that he would defintely want to live in China and that he knew that sometimes the government had to take hard decisions but they were for the good and helped in the development of the country. He wanted to know what lack of freedom I experienced here and I thought of the ban on Blogger among other things. I just told him about freedom of press and information and then he asked me,"Do you want the Olympics in Beijng to run smoothly?" "Of course", said I, even though that question took me by surprise.

We moved on to different topics, mostly about liver cirrhosis, but all of that got me thinking.
One, I love sports and I wouldn't want anything getting in the way of the Olympics.
Two, the people here don't really care about lack of information; the ones who do, know how to get around the system.
Three, you will always judge others using your own standards not theirs. This applies to me and the Chinese.
Four, the Han majority in China view themselves and everyone within official Chinese boundaries as Han. For them, 'Chinese citizen' and 'Han' are synonyms. In other words, what's good for Beijing, is good for China.
Five, sometimes what's okay for me is not okay for you... and what's okay for you is not okay for me... and we just have to accept that.

No comments: