Actually, that should say: Clap your hands, show your belly and Yell.
That’s right, eeew as in gross because deodorant is virtually unknown and mid-section modesty is non-existent. This is not just a lao wai passing judgement, this is a lao wai passing on a pertinent warning.
Take this man: shirt rolled up passed his nipples, shamelessly bellowing across a courtyard of the Forbidden City. At least he’s wearing pants. Not gone are the hot summer days when old men slip down to their tighty-whiteys and join their friends for evening mahjong matches on the sidewalk, a common occurrence in city neighborhoods all over China. Or, after a dinner of spice and numbing pepper corns, the man at the table next to you rolls up his shirt, sticks it to his chest with sweat as the adhesive, and gestures over your meal with one hand to ask if you like it, stopping to blow clear his nasal passages over the ground near your feet through the fingers of his other hand.
While women generally take the more reserved approach of thin, loose clothing to stay cool, there remains no shame in drying even the most provocative undergarments on a clothesline across the sidewalk. When you have to limbo under lacy red underwear outside a prosticutter (see ridictionary), it makes you worry about worse things than bicycle carts on the sidewalk.
This seemingly no qualms approach to social presentation is in fact, anything but. In China, a large belly is a sign of wealth, so that protruding abdomen is similar to westerners showing off sports cars or Grillz. And perhaps that body odor that triggers a gag reflex in our chemically conditioned systems is really a better, healthier, free alternative (though consumeristic tendencies tell me otherwise). As for sidewalk STDs, no thanks.
This entry was posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008 at 1:07 pm and is filed under Beijing, China, When in China and tagged with Beijing, belly, clapping, forbidden city, grilz, prosticutters, staying cool. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.