The World For Dummies

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I swear to god, you’re not speaking French. We’re all American here, we don’t understand your stupid language.
Let’s speak Chinese !
Not when we’re drunk ! Speak English or get out !

Since I don’t want to get out, I speak English. Let’s avoid a diplomatic breakdown.

During morning classes, we have to stand our ground in the u-shaped classroom. The French on one side and the Americans on the other. The teacher is Chinese but he translates non-stop in broken English. We don’t speak Shakespeare’s language. We do we what we do best : we protest.
1-0 USA

We tease each other loudly. Funny to see no one really need translation. Chirac just came back from a trip to China. Alright, not our best ambassador… We fight back making fun of Clinton and Lewinsky. They retort with Mitterrand and his mistresses.

2-0 the New World.

The teacher shouts to calm us down. It’s the final struggle and everyone head towards the MacDonald’s to avoid eating another rice meal in its little plastic box.

We did talk to each other tough. The war in Kosovo was this summer of 99’s big issue. Americans generally considered us as hopeless socialists and we though they were dumber than their president.

This war was useless and harmful to civilians ! Don’t you get it ? You can’t truly believe the USA helped anybody by bombing villages !
Yep. We agree. This war was a major waste of time for us. We were too generous. The money should have stayed in the USA.

Our only revenge was the daily morning singing class. It was just so fun to see all the Americans singing aloud Chinese Communist Party’s song !

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The east is red, the sun is rising.
China has brought forth a Mao Zedong.
He amasses fortune for the people,
Hurrah, he is the people’s great savior.
Chairman Mao loves the people,
He is our guide,
To build a new China,
Hurrah, he leads us forward!
The Communist Party is like the sun,
Wherever it shines, it is bright.
Wherever there is a Communist Party,
Hurrah, there the people are liberated!



I will always remember them. The first Americans I met. We were bound to hate each other in a country none of us, foreigners, truly understood. Talk about a culture shock !

After all, we were French. And French don’t work but always surrender, French are rude to foreigners, arrogant, ungrateful and conceited. French must love China since they live in a bureaucratic Socialist system where they totally depend on that State to survive. And above all, French don’t use soap. Gross. Just gross.

Really ? Well, why would we use extra-soap for arrogant moralizing Americans ? I mean, these people have no history and they keep on shooting each other when things go wrong, right ? And what were these capitalist warmongers doing in China anyway ? Spying for the West bloc ?

The only thing we both agreed on was we couldn’t really trust the Chinese. We couldn’t really argue with them cause, well, you know, they’re pretty good at Kung Fu and were all trained in Shaolin temple somewhere up in the foggy mountains of Tibet. Besides, they all had been brainwashed into worshipping Chairman Mao. Damn Communists. Oops, did I say that aloud ? Watch for microphone, I don’t wanna end up in a Xianjiang’s jail !

Mind you, Chinese would have had their reasons to stay away from us. Mostly cause you know, foreigners are just in University for fun and they don’t actually study. They hate their families too, they have no respect for their parents. But hey, we take pity on them. I mean, they live in a very dangerous world were they shoot each other all the time and go on war for no reason. Man, they are stupid, aren’t they !

But we had to live together like a mini United Nation. The rooms were small at the University and we had to share everything : showers, bathrooms, mattresses… yes, mattress, cause beds were hard as a rock and some of us had managed to steal extra-mattresses from Yan Laoshi, the janitor. We were all woken up by the constructions in front of the building at 5 am and we would meet each other on the steps of main entrance, still sleepy. We smoked the weed we picked in Beijing’s main parks – humid Chinese summers does miracle when it comes to this kind of product. None of us had rolling paper so we had adopted the Hui’s technique : we rolled a sheet of newspaper in a cone. Yes, I smoked the ????, the People’s Daily Newspaper. No, I was Socialist before, it wasn’t a side effect.

We sure teased each other. But it turned out the Americans really didn’t bring any guns with them. And they seemed to enjoy taking picture of old building cause they didn’t have many of these at home, so we couldn’t really blame them, right ? You won’t believe it, but some of them were borderline Communists too !

So we compromised. We used extra soap (since it was l’Oréal, the Americans though we were actually really posh) and stopped bothering everyone about the fact we were once the center of the world. We quite enjoyed learning US slang too.

***
It’s 1am and I’m lying on the couch, watching CNN. And I suddenly had this crazy though. What if we sent all our political and religious leaders on a desert island ? Forced to live together. Forced to learn about each other. Forced to find compromise. Like us, in China.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

17 Comments

  1. Hahahaha, how nice! China and its political system is not as bad as the western nations think it is. Sure there is widespread corruption, but the people ultimately want security, peace and generally welfare for all it’s people albeit the minority…

    I love your poem, it certainly brings back memories. Putting it simply, without Chairman Mao, there wouldn’t have been a China today. Someone may have stepped up and taken his position but their achievements may not necessarily rival those of him. He has his faults but no one is perfect and I’m sure what he did was majorly in the interest of China albeit his personal ideological beliefs.

  2. this was a great one!

    in los angeles it seemed that people were uncomfortable if i spoke spanish with my mom in waiting rooms or lines somewhere, then I’d swith to perfect English and their expressions of fear dropped as they found that I could be just as articulate if not more than them.

    Odd.

    I liked this post.

  3. Spyder : I wish. Oh I wish. I mean, all kind of things could happen on a desert island, right ? :$

    Shan : I totally agree with you. Most of time, Westerners fear China because they don’t know it.

    And I also agree with you on Mao. When he first took power, China was in bad troubles, between the Western occupation, the Japonese and the Guomindang – the latest never did any good to China.

    Mao actually find a way to give China a real independance and some modernity. Of course, I don’t support his later politics but people have to understand he brought a lot to China in the 50’… before turning crazy with the Cultural Revolution.

    Sir Jorge : Feng gets that too from time of time. When he speaks on the phone, people assume he’s Canadian since he doesn’t have any accent. Then if the same person meets him later in real life, they’re like “but I spoke to a white dude earlier !” 😀

  4. Hey Zhu, thanks for the visit. I love your blog’s colorful home page. Beautiful!

    Visit whenever you like. My blogging friends are quite a wonderful group of people I’ve found in the year I’ve been blogging. They’re funny, smart, kind and clever. You’d like them!

    I’ll be back here soon. 🙂

  5. good laugh…what a post…leave me alone, I want to stay out of this..hahaha..
    nice blog, will be back…
    and thanks for your visit.

  6. christina marie on

    great blog!

    i didn’t see madonna on live earth, not a fan so i just put something else on after the foo fighters. x

  7. Je suis americain. Il y a des jours que je me sens fiere d’avoir né ici, et des autres que j’ai de honte. Comment est-ce que je me sens aujourd’hui?

    Je ne suis pas sur!

  8. Zed : I’ll definitely be back – I had so much fun reading these cell phone conversations ! 😀

    Zunnur : thanks for the visit ! 😉 You’re always welcome here !

    christina marie : Thanks ! 😉 I have to check out the Foo Fighters on youtube… I missed them.

  9. WAT : Il n’y a aucune honte à être Américain, c’est sûr ! J’ai aussi honte d’être Française dès fois… Et je n’aime pas trop la politique actuelle au Canada…

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could choose our country depending on our mood ?? I’d love that !

    Ton Français est vraiment bon dear… C’est la prof qui parle ! 😀

  10. I am Canadian, and I think much of the time I feel like I am from another country other than Canada (or I should be) and sometimes I feel so darned proud of where I was born.

    I remember when I started studying anthropology and learning about the cultures of the world, and though I had traveled quite a bit, it had never dawned on me how diverse the world really is. And though where I live I may be part of the “majority”, globally I don’t think there is such a thing as a “majority”. It’s just one big planet full of minorities.

    I have never been to China, but I would love to someday travel through that country on a motorcycle, that would be a wicked ride. I will read this blog as a cultural primer for my someday voyage! 🙂

  11. Danielle : Canada (and the USA) are great cause there’s such a huge variety of culture blending in, it’s amazing ! Europe is actually way more self-centered.

    The story I’m telling here is real. It was quite funny : we were a bunch of teens and young adults studying in China and we really didn’t know about each other – we only knew the stereotyps.

    I’d love to come back to China… my last visit there was in 2004 and I miss it.

  12. I just love your shoot from the hip perspective. So refreshing, and wouldn’t the world be such a better place if more people would say what they really feel instead of all this (am I allowed to swear here??) hypocritical bullshit.

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