China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

When in China… Stop and Stare at Everything

While it is well documented that Chinese people tend to gape at foreigners, it is unfair to leave it at that – they stare indiscriminately at everyone and everything (we once witnessed an entire street of people, ourselves included, gawking bewilderedly at a Chinese man in short, pastel shorts). As you can see, wherever there is anything mildly interesting, from a new pile of trash to something loud or shiny, you will most likely find a cluster of people milling about and watching, even where it is explicitly prohibited. This is not a practice that is restricted to a certain class or age group – you will see bent old men and women with hands folded behind their backs, fathers holding bare-bummed babies, suited businessmen, women in high heels, hairsprayed teens, small children, and big children, all joined together in the passive act of gawking, all unaware of everything else.

For some, it is nothing but a way to pass the time, but for many, it is most likely a reaction to so much rapid change in a space brimming with people. China’s growth has brought incomprehensible changes to the lives of so many in so short a time. In areas like Yichang especially, where many of the country folk have been relocated to the city, evidence of prolonged isolation is apparent in most actions and reactions.

As a foreigner, raised with Western manners and a concept of personal space, the staring can be a little unnerving at first. After time, you come to recognize it as a commonplace aspect of society. Eventually, it is as easy to ignore as the abundant advertising that plasters American society, and, with curiosity and humor, it becomes a great new form of entertainment.

When in China, Stop and Stare! Now with new “real life” picture quality! Better than HD!

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