This is how it is

06 Nov 2003

– I –
A Chinese friend of mine was telling me that she went to see her cousin across town last weekend. He has just moved to Hangzhou to start college. I asked her if he was skinny and loved computer games. She looked surprised. “How did you know?”
– II –
Unusual circumstances caused me to head over to the cafeteria today at 4:45pm for dinner. No, that’s not at all too early. Dinner must start being served at 4:30pm, or even 4. Every meal seems to be eaten earlier than its Western counterpart. Breakfast at 7, lunch at 11, dinner at 5.
Westerners in China usually continue to eat lunch at 12, dinner at 6 or 7, and sometimes even skip breakfast (to the Chinese’s horror). This is actually kind of nice because the crowds are smaller. If you eat dinner at 5, your Western co-workers jibe you with a “you’re not turning Chinese, are you?”
What I gained from eating at 4:45pm was good, hot food. I forgot what a difference it makes when you get it freshly prepared rather than an hour and a half later.
– III –
A co-worker of one of my friends is afraid she’s pregnant. The girl told my friend that she and her boyfriend never use any kind of contraception. They don’t even practice coitus interruptus. The girl is 18, and her boyfriend a few years older. I feel that this is not so uncommon.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

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