Friday, July 30, 2010

The Case of the Curious Cab Driver

A tale about life as an American girl in China

The scene:  Any cab, any city in China
The characters:  Me, and any cab driver
The scenario:  I hop into the front seat, where the passenger rides next to the driver, and we strike up a conversation.
Me:  Ni hao. (Hello)
Driver:  You speak Chinese very well!  (Friendly fib.)  Where are you from?
Me:  America
Driver:  Are you a teacher or a student? / How long have you lived in China? / Do you like China?
Me: I am an English teacher at QuShiDa. / This is my first year in China. / I like China.
Driver:  Do you have a boyfriend?
Me:  I don't have one.
Driver:  Why not?
Me:  I don't know.
Driver:  Are you looking for a Chinese husband? (Asked out of curiosity, by men and women alike - not a pick-up line!)
Me:  I'm not looking for a Chinese husband.
Driver: (Optional follow-up questions:  Chinese men are very good.  Why don't you want a Chinese husband? / Do you like Chinese food? / Can you use chopsticks?)
This will probably be the first Chinese-language dream I ever have, because I've repeated the same conversation so often with curious cabbies, curious students, curious train acquaintances... 

Chinese people talk very directly about some topics that Westerners like to dance around (examples: dating/nondating status, salary, looks).  Every so often it bugs me, but most of the time it's just amusing.   Plus, the question-askers sometimes sweeten their curiousity with very nice compliments about my looks:  "Why don't you have a boyfriend?  You're so beautiful!" 

Why thank you. :)

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