Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Against your own kind (part two)

I got a reminder the other day as to why I don't like Mainlanders...

I was riding the hospital lift down when it stopped at one floor. Somebody graciously kept the door open whilst everybody in the lift waited for whoever it was to enter the lift. It seemed that nobody was going to enter the lift until we saw a kid dragging an adult into the lift. The adult was oblivious to the fact the lift had arrived, as she was 'talking' on the phone. I put 'talking' in quotation marks as the woman was actually shouting down the phone.

I often comment on the volume of Chinese people when they talk but this woman took the biscuit in terms of voice intensity. She really didn't need the mobile phone to talk to the person since that person would have heard it anyway, even hundred of miles away.

So how did I know this woman was from the Mainland. Apart from the usual clothing & facial features, she was shouting in Putonghua, or whatever dialect she was speaking. I have no qualms about people speaking Putonghua. I think the Chinese language is beautiful. I know Putonghua (or Mandarin for my Western friends) is actually easier to learn, with fewer tones to learn and the spoken and written language being exactly the same, unlike the Cantonese dialect. So why is that when I hear anybody speak Putonghua to me, I still roll up my eyes and curse in English? Like a lot of Americans and British people who go on holiday abroad who think everybody in the world understands English, many Mainlanders expect all Hong Kong Chinese people to understand Putonghua just because they are Chinese. I'm sorry to say that I don't understand Putonghua and talking to me in Chiuchow, Fukien or whatever dialect you should choose will not make me understand what you are saying.

I don't expect people who come to Hong Kong to all speak Cantonese. There are many expatriates from Western countries who come here to live and work. I expect not one of them to speak conversational Cantonese. Yet they can manage to get somebody who can speak the local language to communicate with essential people, such as in restaurants, services and in the health sector, to acquire whatever they need. It seems people from Mainland China are incapable of doing this. Somehow they just keep shouting and shouting and expect you to understand.

Which leads me on to another point why I'm extremely prejudice towards Mainlanders - manners. For some reason Mainlanders have never ever been taught to be polite towards other people. I've been trying to explain it since I've noticed this. My parents keep telling me it is a cultural aspect but I seriously don't believe that. One thing common to many cultures is the lack of greed and the basic awareness of "Love thy neighbour like thy self". I know that phrase is Christian in origin but other religions, from Islam to Buddhism, share the same belief.

Neither it is a socio-economical problem. I know many people in England who are not well off and they manage to be courteous and kind. Plus I know many Mainland businessmen who are well off and are just as rude as a British football hooligan. Somehow the basic manners are just not instilled into Mainlanders. They just don't seem to say 'goodbye' at the end of a phone conversation. They don't let people off lifts or trains first. I don't think it is a regional aspect either. The Koreans and Japanese are very polite. I love one aspect of Japanese life - people are generally looked down upon if you are seen talking on your mobile in a train carriage. I hate it when people shout down the phone so the whole of the train can hear. Why is it that the Chinese people are incapable of talking quietly? I cannot have a conversation with my dad without having my hearing tested afterwards. This has lead me to stay away from holiday resorts where Chinese people usually reside to ensure I have a quiet holiday. You can tell Chinese tourists from a mile away - they have no manners and cannot speak quietly.

Maybe I'm just a snob and extremely condescending. I expect everybody to have good manners and know how to say 'excuse me', 'thank you' and 'sorry' in the language to wherever they go on holiday. I look down on people who cannot give up their seat in the bus or train to the elderly and disabled. I expect patients to listen to me and understand what I'm saying, even in my broken Cantonese. I wish everybody who at least not consult doctors for the trivial of things, that common colds and flu do not require a doctor to prescribe medication which can be bought at a pharmacist.

Prejudices have no place in the world but we all have them. I think if everybody was born perfect, we would never make the effort to improve. So why is that I'm willing to acknowledge my faults but other people are not capable of doing so?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Against your own kind (part one)

I like to think I'm an open-minded person, willing to accept people for their beliefs and behaviour. It should come natural for me, having lived in three different countries (although very Westernized in nature) during my childhood and having been surrounded by people from various nations during my school years, first in an international school and then a boarding school. Additionally several years with depression has allowed me to experience what it is like to be a psychiatric patient. I find it especially difficult to comprehend why doctors and medical students still hold some stigmatization of psychiatric patients.

Yet I do have one prejudice in life. I am ashamed to admit it but I whenever I meet people of this nature I instinctively roll my eyes and look down upon them. It's not Mormons or evangelists I despise. I can understand their intentions in spreading the word of the Bible, even though they might piss off some people along the way with some ill-advised methods. I can tolerate Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester Unitd fans, knowing football fanaticism is a delusional state which very few can escape from. All football fans think their team is the best in the world and will religious defend their club to the extremes of insanity.

The kind of prejudice I usually infect is somewhat strange - I'm prejudice against people from China.

Yes, I'm racist towards my own race. I would have to clarify my prejudice. I'm somewhat look down on people from Mainland China. I don't have any problem of people generally from Hong Kong, although people who know me well know I don't like Hong Kong compared to other countries. I get along fine with any Chinese people who were brought up abroad, like USA or UK, seeing they have a similar background and upbringing compared to me. Neither am I belittling the achievements of the Chinese and their culture. I have a great respect for Chinese arts, thinking the youth of today have no appreciation for such things with the bastardification of the Chinese language. I know the Chinese people invented paper money, the printing press and fireworks in the past, showing they were light years ahead of their Western counterparts.

Yet whenever a Chinese person starts talking Putonghua to me, wherever it is a patient or a doctor, I just automatically think, "Go back over the border." I know I shouldn't be thinking like this way. I'm a great believer of open borders. People should be allowed to immigrate/emigrate to other countries for political, social or economic reasons. In fact I'm a benefactor of such immigration policies, having become a British citizen and my brother can claim Australian nationality if he wanted to.

There are some people who take liberty with these immigration policies. One example is right here in Hong Kong. Pregnant woman from Mainland China come to Hong Kong to give birth, so their child can benefit from free health care and education. I'm sure USA suffer from the same problem with Mexican mothers and some other countries probably have the same dilemma. Yet the problem continues up the ladder, with people from China coming to Hong Kong, intending to find work but just winding up on the dole, claiming benefits and living in free housing. They never intend to find work in the first place. I know a vast majority of Mainlanders do actually get work, finding the kind of employment Hong Kong people don't want. It is the minority who give the majority a bad name.

What really gets on my nerve about Mainlanders is the behaviour and manners... which I will write about next time because I need to calm down before I past out due to excessive anger.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

In the doldrums

I don't know why or how to explain the situation but I'm miserable. I'm not enjoying life at the moment but I cannot find a reason why I should be hating my life. To paraphrase a fine author, Nicky Hornby, from his famous book "Fever Pitch", I have a good job, in reasonable good health and family plus friends who like me. So why should I be in the doldrums?

Could the job application situation be the problem? All the interns are talking about the inteviews they are having right now and I know I have to wait for the Family Medicine interviews, which are later than other specialties. I'm not worried about getting an interview, or even a job. Probably I'm just fed up of my fellow house officers talking nothing except their job prospects.

Yet even that cannot really explain why I'm so lacklustre in my job. The workload is not that excessive and I'm able to manage quite contently. Yet I don't get that satisfaction anymore of helping people or doing something to impress other people. Basically I stopped caring about anything. I may have even pissed off another professor in a different department, bringing the number of specialties I have officially pissed off to three (four if there is an official complaint and they have to talk to my head).

I'm even losing interest in the hobbies I used to love. I don't watch movies so often anymore, at home or even in the cinema. I just want to stay at home and forget about society & civilization. I don't follow the NBA anymore, having no interest or time. Probably the difference is I'm pointing my interests into other areas, such as cooking and British comedy.

I wish I could get out of this rut but something about me likes being in here...