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?

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