13th July 2015

Yesterday in the main square of Chongqing we bought some peaches.


In the hot sun and exotic surroundings eating peaches out of the blue I was reminded that countless times a day and in billions of ways people do the sensible/helpful and socially beneficial thing. And that this far outweighs negative and antisocial acts.

What has got me thinking of this was the issue of hygeine. When Vanessa had bought the peaches my first thought was how to clean it. Many articles I read before coming to China had stressed the need to make sure that I took precautions to prevent eating contaminated fruit etc on the street.

It turned out that the solution was simple and commonplace, as soon as the vendor placed the peaches in a new plastic bag for us, he opened a bottle of water and poured some in to rinse the fruit. Job done. I started to think more about this, we are of course encouraged to take similar precautions at home with fruit etc. There is never any guarantee that in the various actions and events leading up to the moment I bite into a peach someone has had poor personal hygeine or taken a short cut. China is a rapidly growing economy the differences between poor and middle class are vast let alone rich and poor. It is unlikely that the peach seller was a rich man and the temptation to use second hand bags, tap filled bottles must be there. Yet most of the time eating a peach is perfectly safe.

Taking this further, think of all the things I touch in China, the hands I shake, rails, walls etc. Now I may be taking a little more care than normal but must of the time I’m engrossed in the magic around me. Not worrying whether a rogue bacillus has made it way onto my hands or lips. In the UK this personal hygeine strategy is enough to mean that stomach upsets are rare. In China I’ve had one short bout. This must imply that here people in all these hygeine chains of trust are taking equal care, even though the economic pressure on many of them is much greater.

It’s so easy to assume that somehow I come from a society that has superior values. It’s so rewarding to be reminded that I don’t.