When I first informed some of my friends about our coming relocation to Beijing, one of the most common response that I have received was "Huh? You sure boh? You can get used to it ar? China wor?"
We have heard much about China. We have heard how China has turned from a rather conservative country into one of the big super powers that she is today, clearly a force to reckon with globally.
When China sneezes, the world stops ....
On the other hand, we have also heard much about the ugly side of China either through word of mouth, rumors, stories and the media. I must said that I have a lot of reservation about relocating there as well. Firstly, because I am a `banana' who could not read nor write Mandarin. My stammering Mandarin will probably be just enough to get myself a sunny side up in the hotel during breakfast.
We all have heard or viewed the ugly video of how a poor little boy who was knocked down by a lorry and no one apparently stopped to help. I have seen for myself men in China sitting in coffee shops with their T-shirt rolled up exposing their belly, sipping their coffee and having a good time. I have seen for myself, cars and taxis that stopped by the middle of the road, oblivious of other users need to pass, just for their own convenience. I have seen cars cutting into cues without any signals, expecting you to give way.
There were even stories of how unsafe it can become if you were to walk alone in China. But really, is it?
The question today is are we any different?
Malaysia now is a proud owner of an equally interesting video of an old lady lying by the road side, hurt with passers by just walking past and not lending a helping hand. If this scene is somewhere in China, we would probably go "What lar this Chinese? No heart one ar? See people hurt like that also don't stop to help?" and another party would probably responded like "Ya lar. What to do? China ma. They are like that one...."
But the scene IS NOT CHINA! It is Penang. Like at the back of our very own courtyard.
And if you think only Chinese in China rolled up their T-shirt and expose their belly in the public, you are dead wrong. I was waiting for my wife to finish her facial in Subang and I was parking in front of a mamak store. Right in front of me was this middle aged man (race not important) with his T-shirt rolled up exposing his ugly belly, having his teh tarik with his friend.
Drivers in China are definitely aggressive but we have our fair share of aggressive drivers and road bullies back home. Just the other day, as I was taking a leisurely drive on Sunday to go out for breakfast, a blue E-class Mercedes driven by a lady driver just zoomed past on the outer lane which was meant to go straight and turned right, cutting right in front of my car because she wanted to beat the traffic light, expecting me to brake (which I had to). And this is in a residential area. If you drive in KL daily, driving any less aggressively in the morning or evening rush will get you no where and ages to get home because no one will give you the right of way. You would have to fight for it. Using the signal light to indicate intention of changing lanes is strongly not advised because this will disclose your intention to other drivers who will close up the gap to prevent you from doing so. Am I guilty of it? Very much so. Guilty as charged! So, then again, are we any different.
We have heard of how unsafe it is to walk the streets in China. I remembered I was told when we were visiting Shenzhen some years back to be extra careful. If we read the news of the crimes that were being committed today in our media, of how women are being assaulted in car parks of shopping complexes, of how little children were being abducted, molested and killed, of the number of innocent deaths due to snatch thieves and car windows being smashed at traffic lights ...the question today again is ....are we any different?
I have always treat our relocation to China as a learning experience and once in a lifetime opportunity albeit with reservation, and the first lesson that I have learnt is never judge another and arrive to a conclusion without first experiencing it yourself and always ask if you are any better.
"Let the one who have no sin, cast the first stone" Christ said.......
Are we any different? I truly wonder ........