How can you plan for that? But it does happen to me! I do tend to get surprises as my friends from China plan to stay with me! Without warning!
I decided last week to change the furniture around in the new apartment – I had been to Ikea to get some small inexpensive tables, and eyed off some other things that would fit in well. However, I need to get rid of a lounge seat, a desk and a filing cabinet. I can move none of them on my own! And then in the midst of some chaos, I get an unexpected phone call.
“Hello Diana. I am in Brisbane and I am coming to stay with you.” A doctor friend from China, had travelled to Australia for the first time, and he was staying with his friends – all former English teacher at a university there.
So, here was my unexpected visitor – when I am still in chaos trying to sort things out from the move last month.
Typical Chinese Culture
I should be familiar with the way things are when one has a visitor from mainland China. Your life is chaotic. It’s like the way that they announce they are coming to stay with you. There’s no question of whether it is suitable, convenient or whatever. They arrive and everything is about them.
They don’t seem to eat the way we do – I mean that breakfast, lunch and dinner is not as regimented as we are used to. Not hungry at breakfast so they don’t want any, but after I have had mine, tidied up and ready to go out, they want something, and it is not usually as simple as one would like.
My timetable/commitments? Well, I just have to get used to doing my chores/appointments when it happens. “We have to leave at 9 am” – and at 5 to 9, they want coffee, or want to do something on the internet. Grrr.
The Chinese seem not to understand how to work with and respect their “hostess’s” timetable. The fact that I have a problem with one of my legs and walking is limited, though he is catching on. It is hard to know how to please them. Would you like to go on a boat tour” – the initial answer is an enthusiastic ‘yes’ but after some time and thought, and a host of questions, there’s a lack of enthusiasm. And they don’t understand our vast distances from place to place.
So much fun!!
Missing in Action
I love it that my Chinese guests are curious about our culture. I don’t love it that a shopping venture that should take 20 minutes, takes an hour or so, as they check every product in the supermarket or shop, for details including if it was made in China. And they disappear!! One minute they are beside you, and the next? Well, good luck finding them.
It makes one feel like an idiot, as you search the aisle in the shopping centre and call out their name. Sometimes they are “miles” from where you last saw them. Because he can sit on his “haunches” I often don’t see him.
Last night I had a meeting to attend, and I took him, and explained that I would only be an hour. When I came out into the dark at 7.30 pm, he’s nowhere to be seen. He has managed to find a “day hospital” and explore it, a gym where he has collected some brochures and books and some other place.
I just stood in the dark on the side of the road. Waiting. Waiting. He told me enthusiastically about his discoveries.
Most of my guests from the Middle Kingdom don’t do anything for me. They don’t “dry dishes”, take plates from the table, clean up, take items back to the kitchen etc, but the good doctor does. He’s fanatical. He wants to clean everything. Floors? No problem. He wields the vacuum cleaner with enthusiasm. This man wipes anything to keep it clean. He puts rubbish in the bin (though I have to teach him about the way we recycle rubbish etc.
Today he leaves me – so I can get back to doing all the things I missed doing in the days he was with me.
So much writing. Housework.
But, I hope I don’t sound like I am complaining. I understand, or am still trying to, their culture, but it is full on.
Tomorrow I can relax more. I will miss my unexpected visitor!