Tuesday, April 25, 2006

When in China do as the Chinese

Although, you should have seen the looks the local Chinese would shoot us, it was hilarious. I am confident the Chinese people didn’t even see me. Here are these two (fake), large bodyguards walking side-by-side and I walking behind, dragging my laptop. My laptop is an extension of my brain, so I protected it with my life. I felt like Roger Staubach a quarterback from the 1979 Dallas Cowboys with 2 defensive linemen as blockers, paving a path through the masses. Chinese youth would just point and stare. Fortunately for me, my bodyguards cleared the path and I just rolled with the times.

After work, I often had to drag my computer around Shanghai for dinner, as the two big guys took precedence over me, when they were hungry. My hotel would have added an additional 40 minutes of traffic time to the journey. Who am I to question my giant bald brothers? We all had code names for each other. One guy code named, Iron Eagle (the big wig) and another the Bachelor (the traveler). My code name was Wing Nut! The psychology behind a single wing nut is not too important, psychologically or mechanically. Thanks guys!

When we finally arrived at the restaurant recommended by the Westin Hotel’s concierge we were seated at a six person table. Interestingly enough, two of the chairs were already taken by two Chinese men. This practice is normal for the Chinese, but a little awkward for the Americans. Personal space is a premium in other cultures and proximics are quite different around the world. In the U.S. we are used to being alone and afforded our own space. For fun, reverse it and try sitting at someone else’s table in the U.S. uninvited.

When in China do as the Chinese. When in the U.S. do as the U.S., this rule applies almost anywhere. Unfortunately, many Americans forget this rule and they claim foreign soil as Neil Armstrong claimed the Moon. Research and learn or in other words, know before you go. Most importantly, have fun! Get out of your comfort zone!

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