18 04 2007

I recently cited slurping noodles as a sound I hate, and Abby commented asking me how I handled China with such a dislike. The truth is that particular answer came to mind because I had read this old SST journal the night before. Enjoy.

Eating Noodles

Eating at the Wai Ban noodle shop when it’s busy is a study in patience for me. Especially when I’m tired. Not much grates at my nerves more than hearing people eat. The slurp, slurp that accompanies a Chinese person eating noodles annoys my senses so much, it almost causes physical pain. I have a feeling that it is akin to what most people experience when they hear fingernails on a chalk board, only the sound continues for about 10 minutes. As children in the States we are taught not to slurp our soup or cereal, to close our mouths when we eat and not to talk with our mouths full. In China, none of these things seem particularly taboo. Other less physical annoyances confront me in China. Pouty girls and the way they beat on their boyfriends, or seek solace from them in very public ways. I think mostly this offends my sensibilities as a feminist. Pushing and shoving, blank stares as response to a smile of greeting, spitting; all of these things are in some way breaking with the social code of conduct that is ingrained in me. But, I’m the outsider here; I’m the one who has entered a place with a different social code. One that i don’t know and don’t understand. You can’t teach those kind of things, not really. You can tell someone about large taboos, but there are so many small things that we do or don’t do without realizing it. We could never think of all of them. I wonder how many times I have put my foot somewhere that a Chinese person never would, said something in a way that a Chinese person wouldn’t dare, or any number of things I’ve never even thought about.




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