Three Tales of Two Cities
22 Sep 2009
During our recent trip to Beijing, conversation naturally turned to comparisons of Shanghai and Beijing. I don’t want to rehash that tired topic (again) here, but there were three particular anecdotes told by Chinese friends which I found amusing. All involved interactions with the locals in which the storytellers’ values clashed with the locals’.
I’ve recreated them below, in spirit, at least, and translated them to English, but I’m not revealing the cities. See if you can identify the city from the story.
> I wanted to take the bus to the nearest supermarket, so I asked a middle-aged person on the street. The conversation went something like this:
> Me: Excuse me, which bus can I take to the supermarket?
> Man: Bus? What do you want to take a bus for? It’s not that far, and you’re young! Just walk. The weather is great. Go straight up that way 5 blocks, then turn left.
> Me: Thanks, but I’d like to take a bus, so…
> Man: I’m telling you, it’s a great walk! You don’t need a bus! Just walk up that way 5 blocks…
> I wanted to buy a bottle of water in a small store.
> Me: I’ll just take this bottle of water. All I have is a 50.
> Shopkeeper: I can’t change a 50.
> Me: Well, I don’t have change, so…
> Shopkeeper: I told you, I can’t change a 50. Come back when you have change.
> I needed to buy a lighter, so I sought out a nearby convenience store.
> Me: I’d like to buy a lighter, please.
> Cashier: A lighter? You don’t want to buy that here.
> Me: What do you mean?
> Cashier: Lighters are way cheaper at the shop down the street. You save 2 RMB!
> Me: Thanks, but I’d like to just buy one here, so….
> Cashier: I’m telling you, they’re cheaper down the street! You don’t want to throw money away, do you??
Can you identify the cities?