Six decades ago during the ‘Four Pests’ Campaign in China all conversation would stop if you heard the buzzing of a fly. Only after the fly was dispatched would conversation continue. More recently if a Westerner wanted to bring conversation to a halt, all they needed to do was show off a tattoo. Traditional China frowns on tattoos. But that was then, things are now changing and the West is being shown a thing or two.
Chinese tattoos are not just simple ink tatting. No, we are talking real artwork, classic calligraphy and ink-wash drawings (see example below). As China gets richer it is developing its own fashionable trends which most probably will find their way to the West.
A second Chinese trend is COVID inspired. One of the most perceptive observers of the new China is Peter Hessler, a former Peace Corps English teacher in rural China (1996-1998) and a writer for The New Yorker since. He is now back in China at a University in Chengdu. For a great article on his experience there see the August 17, 2020 issue of The New Yorker.
One of Hessler’s discoveries is Chinese tech in action. To limit indoor crowding, students do not go to the central post office to pick up their Taobao (think Chinese Amazon) packages. Now robots roam the campus alerting you by cell phone when they are near your dorm and you pick up outside. A pretty smart COVID response.
A final trend is food in China. If you have been to China you are familiar with Chinese banquets and the sight of tables groaning under the weight of too much food, much of which goes uneaten. Chinese generosity dictates the ordering of extra food as a sign of politeness and respect. Now the Government’s ‘Clean Plate’ campaign is pressuring restaurants to cut down on waste. One restaurateur decided to weigh customers before entering to discourage excessive ordering. That plan fell decidedly flat. I guess it’s as true in China as in the West, “you can never be too rich or too thin.” Chinese diners just do not want to be publicly outed about their weight. Another restaurant strategy involves weighing the plates at the end of a banquet and charging for wasted food. Maybe we should just teach the Chinese the time-honored American custom of ‘doggie bags.’ Two meals for the price of one. What’s not to like?