Friday, December 2, 2011

The China Diaries: Miscellanea

At last, the holiday season is upon us. I, for one, could not be happier. Sure, China itself is almost entirely bereft of actual decorations, per sé, and the only Christmas lights one is likely to encounter are lights that are up all year for practical lighting purposes, but still, come on, it's Christmas time! Yes, yes, it's true, the only advent calendar I've got to keep me company in my countdown (only 22 days, two hours, and eight minutes!!!) is the latest update to Angry Birds Seasons, but that'll do. Besides, each time I click on the one that unlocks Christmas day, it tells me exactly how much time is left (only 22 days, two hours, and seven minutes!!!). Who needs four advent calendars anyway? There's a point where it just becomes obsessive. (six minutes!!!)

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(five minutes!!!)

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At some point, I will get a picture of this for you (I feel awkward about it, really), but Chinese children have exposed bums. All the time. Until they reach the age where they are potty trained, instead of using diapers (be these renewable or disposable), their pants simply lack a crotch or seat. In some ways, I admire it. Cuts down on waste, certainly. But that does mean you will often see babies peeing in the street.

Of course, the Chinese don't want babies peeing willy-nilly (tee-hee), so there is a sort of system in place. When a caregiver seeks for their child to relieve itself, they will hold the child in a squatting position, and start to whistle. The whistle is meant to be a cue for the baby to release. If the child is so unfortunate as to be a boy, there's a decent chance their will get their willy flicked as well. It's not dignified, but when the alternative is to sit around in your own filth until it's convenient for the adults around you to give you a change, I suppose you'll take what you can get.

The funny thing for me is when the parent decides the baby should pee, but the baby doesn't agree. The baby doesn't struggle; it knows that would be futile. Instead, as the parent holds the baby in the squat, whistles, and, gender permitting, gives a few well-placed flicks, the baby's eyes will glaze over. He or she (I have witnessed this twice in the last few days, with each gender) will stare off into the middle distance with a look that says more than words ever could. It's a look mostly of annoyed resignation; "I know this isn't going to go anywhere, but we both know you're going to keep trying for a bit, so maybe if I space out it won't seem like it's taking as long."

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(22 days, one hour, and 51 minutes!!!)

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