So, Saturday night, we all went out for a nice dinner. It was a very nice dinner. That being said, there are two cultural differences that came up.
First, I had forgotten about the Asian way of drinking at dinner though. It’s completely acceptable, and rather encouraged it would seem, to nominate someone to drink with you. Drinking with you means finishing your glass. The glasses are probably 6 to 8 oz, no not huge, but it catches up with you.
Second, it is the cultural norm to work very hard during the day and party at night. Now, this work hard, play hard attitude alone is not that different, but it’s the division between the two. You essentially don’t talk about one while doing the other. What this means is that you can drink even more than is advisable with the assurance that for all practicallity it will be completely forgotten the next day. The rest pretty much follows from this lack of inhibitors.
So, this is where I skip a good chunk of the details of the after dinner part, because given the above, posting it on the internet would be a cultural faux pas. Let’s skip to the part when we were leaving the karaoke club. I forgot my hoodie which was pretty much the only warm clothes I brought with me. I went back to get it and in the dim lighting thought I had it. Come to find out the next morning that I had someone else’s similar sweatshirt.
One of the guys here was kind enough to write down the name and cross streets of the place. And thus the fun begins. Keep in mind, this is all for a relatively non-descript, but warm hoodie.
- Walk half a mile to the nearest subway station, getting only a bit lost on the way.
- Take one the subway one stop and transfer to a different line.
- Take the second line one stop.
- Start walking down the street in the direction I understand the place to be, looking back occasionally for landmarks to backtrack by.
- Find the corner, find the place, this is when the fun starts.
- Try to ask the dude outside – doesn’t speak English.
- Try to ask the information desk – none of the three speak English.
- They call some woman on the phone who speaks some English.
- She first thinks I want to reserve a room for later that night.
- She asks what room number we were in… I don’t know.
- I call a local guy and ask, he tells me it was 202.
- The desk agents call the english speaking woman back.
- I tell her the room number.
- She comes downstairs… a little english, a lot of yelling in Chinese on the phone.
- I call the local guy back, he talks to her.
- More yelling in Chinese on the phone (at someone else).
- Finally it’s decided that they don’t have my sweatshirt, but they’ll call if they find it.
- Backtrack down the street to the metro station.
- Take one subway on stop.
- Discover that the second subway made its last run 3 minutes prior to my arrival.
- Hike the mile or so back to the hotel.
That entire adventure took about two and half to three hours. In the end, for the next few days I was without my warm article of clothing waiting to see if they called having found it. No call yet, but I’m holding out hope. It really isn’t all the pleasant working in an unheated area of a factory without warm clothing.