What’s Up with All the Spitting in China?
Spring is here and it is a real pleasure to take the 15’ish minute walk from my flat to work now that I’m not freezing my ass off in Beijing. This week I was happily walking along, reflecting on the number of weeks I’ve been here and thinking how AWESOME it was that I hadn’t seen a single man whip out his willy and pee right in front of me in all this time – something that I would have witnessed at least 10 times a day on my way into work in India. Then, almost on cue – as if to remind me that every city has its good and bad points – a woman walking towards me projectile spat in my direction! Not a cute quasi-feminine ‘oh my, a gnat flew in my mouth’ kind of spit but a loud, gross, nasty spit!
I’ve only been here six weeks, so I hope everyone will understand that I’m just not accustomed to seeing a woman – or so many men – spitting in public. Personally I would rather experience a random wardrobe malfunction than spit in front of anyone given a choice. Yet it IS a completely natural body function that is practiced virtually anywhere, anytime for lots of locals, and interestingly not just the guys. On my way to work I counted no less than four random spit moments and one added bonus gift from the guy walking in front of me who decided to blow his nose without a tissue into a tree trunk, almost without stopping. He was like a marathon runner, just not actually doing anything that warranted the no tissue move IMHO!
So is life, here in China. Instead of being conditioned to control or refrain from doing things like spitting and burping while out in public, much of it is accepted as a-okay. My first day at work I remember being pretty shocked at hearing a guy in our area burp, which looking back now just goes to show that it’s really not so scandalous here because no one gasped or teased him. I hear ladies burp on the street and in elevators but I’m happy to say that I’ve never heard a female colleague do it (thankfully).
In a way it’s a bit liberating, knowing that if I ever did burp on accident that I wouldn’t have to come up with a slew of random idiotic excuses as to why it happened and then die just a little bit inside from all the embarrassment. One thing is for sure though, next time I have a cold or the sniffles, there’s no way in hell I will be trying the urban marathon man trick anytime soon…gonna leave that suave move for the locals!
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