Tuesday, August 12, 2008

20 Questions

Emily's sister Lilia here again. Today we wrapped up our second day of sightseeing in the city of Xian in central China. The highlight of the day was the truly awesome Terracotta Warriors archaeological site that is still being excavated here after being discovered in 1974 by some local peasants trying to dig a well.

Our local Xian native tour guide, I'll call her "Mindy", has been with us since we arrived from Shanghai. In addition to providing some helpful historical background during our visits to local sites, she also unknowingly given us an cultural lesson with her endless barrage of questions.

I'd read a bit about this tendency on the part of Chinese thanks to the Lonley Planet and other guide books and was confident in my ability to patiently fend off any curious tourguide or cabby. But Mindy was a champ. A fresh-faced visitor to China such as myself was no match for her girlish giggle and perky pony tail.

Thankfully, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I was not judged interesting enough to attract Mindy's incessant questioning, (something I'm still a little a little miffed about actually.) Instead, she focused on my sister and brother-in-law: what he does for a living, how long they are planning to live in Shanghai, what kind of car my sister drives, the sq footage of her apartment. As we parted ways and said goodbye this afternoon, I was just waiting for her to yell out the car window as she drove away, "So, ah, how much money does your brother-in-law make a year after taxes?"

Now I know Wendy was just trying to be friendly and keep up a nice banter; I appreciate that and don't hold any hard feelings of course. Now that I've had a few Mindy-free hours to reflect, the whole experience has served as more of a reminder to appreciate opportunities to learn about other cultures, no matter how taxing or uncomfortable it may seem at the time. Mindy mentioned that she has never left China but would love to visit Russia and the U.S. someday, which made me pause and appreciate being able to visit China, its Terracotta warriors and the memorable Mindy.

No comments: