7th October 2015

As far as I can see, and that’s  maybe not that far, many Chinese institutions are corrupt and mindbogglingly slothful. This is not really news of course and it’s not too difficult to explain. It’s partly for Economic reasons, China is still a Developing Society, and partly for Political reasons. Only a couple of generations back, well within the memories of many Chinese people The Cultural Revolution took place. A decade of insanity, basically.  During this period it was dangerous to do or say anything *wrong*, indeed it was dangerous, sometimes mortally dangerous to say or do the RIGHT thing at the wrong time.  Far better and safer perhaps to say and do nothing. This historical memory I think still affects people now.

But on the street in everyday ordinary transactions I’m sometimes quite moved by the honesty, hospitality and kindness that I encounter.

Two examples : Last week I went to visit a student in hospital. She’d fallen off a scooter. Not uncommon round here. I took a Taxi to get there as I didn’t know where it was but decided to return by bus as I was pretty sure I knew where I was and could get home. The bus I got on didn’t go where I was expecting it to of course. I got to a bus terminal with no idea where I was. Six months ago I would have panicked but not any more. I’d get home somehow but while I was there I may as well have a look round. I walked past a wet market and saw some oysters. I like oysters. The people who think they taste like you’re eating your own snot are misguided I think. So I went to buy some. I asked the woman how much and I thought she said 40¥ so I profferred  a 50¥ note. She smiled at me, gave me the note back and gestured to me to open my wallet. She took a 5¥ note out and gave me 1¥ back. Remarkable I think. I’d have been none the wiser and as everyone knows in China, Westerners are rich. Why did she act as she did ?  I don’t think it’s got much to do with the Law.

A second example : a while ago when Lemmy was still here we went one night to get some street food. I chose my food and went to pay. The guy cooking the food gestured to a plastic box at the other end of the stall out of his sight line. It was brimming with paper money. Then I realised what I should do. I should put my money in the box and help myself to the right change……. And this system works. I suspect it wouldn’t in many places.

One thought on “Honestly. The honesty ! ”

  1. This was my experience too, I was struck by how honest people were in their dealings with me. Given that the buying power of my money was 7 times what it was in the UK I wouldn’t have noticed. Traders would know this I am 100% sure. In Xian Airport I sat with a young chap Ajay from Mumbai and for 40 minutes we looked on as about 30 metres away 3 iPhones were plugged in charging in sockets on the far wall. We both agreed that surveillance or not, in the UK or India they would been nicked within seconds of being left there. Never tried oysters will have to come back to China and try them …

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