Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Expert walkers

I just saw something that sparked an observation. Two people at the Trust Mart bumped into each other, hard. I realized that this is the first time I've seen that happen in China. Dalian has just taken the prize away from New York for the city where I've experienced the best walkers.

A Chinese market may look like this on a busy Saturday:

Sure, people bump and jostle each other, but very gently. In London, I thought I was going to get killed by someone or other too busy texting to look where he was walking, but I've never felt that way in China. I suppose that a nation where there are basically no traffic laws must be very alert!

Incidentally, if you're in the way and someone needs to get past you, then never say "excuse me." There is a phrase that translates "excuse me," but it's rarely used.

Instead, they simply gently brush into you and push, so you step aside without even thinking about it. It may seem a little rude at first, but it works much better than the American practice of uttering an ambiguous phrase of apology that you probably don't really mean, then waiting to see if the person a) heard you, b) could figure out what you're asking, and c) could figure which direction you need him to move.

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