maanantai 8. joulukuuta 2008

Two degrees more

One of the reasons I like my colleague is that he is, in many respects, very non-chinese Chinese. I mean, the lack of spitting, the lack of the long pinky finger nail, the lack of responsiveness, the lack of , the ability to THINK and question and challenge, flexibility, hardworkingness AND ability to speak English make my day, every day. Anyway, point is, every now and then I start to speak Finnish to him, when I forget he is Chinese. But some days ago the most Chinese thing came out of his mouth. Let me start from the beginning.

During the summer, he told that his parents house does not get electricity every day, partly because they needed somee much electricity in Beijing, to get all the Olympic related things ready. And the summer in here is hot. HOT! Airconditioning and fridge are appreciated during July-August. Well, now it has gotten cold again, and I wanted to know how his parents are doing now.

Him: "We don't use airconditioning during the winter", he said.

Me: "Your parents don't use?"

Him: "No, we don't use either."

Me: "Ok, what do you use?"

Him: "We don't use anything. Air conditioning makes the air so dry it is bad for your health."

Me: "So what do you do during the winter? It is freezing here in January?"

Him: "We just wear a lot of clothes."

Moment of silence. I was stunned.

Him: "We have warm boots and winter jackets."

Me: "So how cold is it in your apartment?"

Him:"It is couple of degrees higher than outside temperature. About 2 to 10 degrees celcius."

What the heck??? So, here we are, two finns complaining about the cold floor of our apartment. And the windows that are insulated with... well, the world-renown Chinese workmaship quality. And it is about 21 degrees in our apartment (though I am a bit afraid of the next electricity bill).

Me: "Two degrees?!? That is... freezing."

Him: "It is not common for Chinese family to use airconditioning during the winter."

Perplexed from this I started to investigate a little further. When an occasion rose, I asked: "So, how cold is it in your home / apartment nowadays when it is getting colder?"

Lady 1: It is about 20 degrees.

Me: What about when the winter gets colder?

Lady 1: It is about 20 degrees all winter.

Huh. A voice of sanity. But I wasn't ready to settle with a draw (1-1).

Lady 2: Bla bla bla bla... "...we don't use airconditioning in the winter. It is not good for your health. "

Editors note: And freezing to death is, is that what you are saying to me?
Me: "How cold it is when the winter gets colder?"
Lady 2: "It is maybe 5 degrees. But during the day we are in the rooms where the sun is shining in, they are much warmer."

Lady 2:"You know, it is not good for health to have a big change in temperature, if inside is warm and outside is cold. Not good for human body." -> Now, all you Finns, quit warming your houses, it is not good for your health, you hear me!

Lady 2: "And it is uncomfortable if you go from warm room to the washroom and it is cold."

So it is much better to be uncomfortable all the time? Oh, lawsie mercy, this is the logic I need to deal with every day...

Lady 2: "Human body can take a lot. I think it can also take cold."

Next day. Me: [Trying to think of a proper ] "It's a bit cold here, don't you think. So, is it cold in your home during the winter?"
Lady 3: "It is quite cold. We cannot use the airconditioning, it's not good for CHILDREN."
Me: [quiet, people tend to speak more if you have the patient to wait.]
Lady 3: "People get sick if they use the airconditioning a lot."

Me: [Hmm, you have had a flu THREE times this autumn.]
Lady 3: "It is about as cold as outside. Sometimes it is quite cold, even minus degrees.[Teaches me how to say "minus three degrees in Chinese.] But airconditioning is not good."
Me: [Thinking what a grazy place this is].

Their homes are colder than their fridges, for goodsake. Although it would be convenient during Christmas, when even the biggest fridge is not big enough, I am humble in front of this "chinality". Sometimes it would be good to settle with a draw:

Common sense 1 - Chinese 3

Ei kommentteja: