Immediately upon arriving in China, I found new motivation to stay fit—crossing the street. It turns out, having the right of way means something completely different in China than it means in the US. In China, when the little green man motions for you to cross the street, he’s not giving you a hall pass, he’s merely igniting the game. You’re a pedestrian playing Frogger while the cars are racing Mario Kart and unless you have a grand strategy, you best prepare for ultimate destruction.
The toilet water might still spin the same way, but in China, things seem to just be different. The vodka freezes, KFC sells Chinese food, and the middle of the night is anytime after ten.
Taxi drivers are constantly asking me if I’m looking for a Chinese qizi, a wife. (In fact, there is a market for prospective wives and husbands just twenty minutes away.) One particularly bold cab driver even offered her daughter. But for the most part, Chinese women are not looking for me. I’m a cultural product of America, and I have no place on the Chinese marriage market. The initial allure for my exotic white skin and my round eyes fades as soon as it is time to put on the moves. Chinese men know how to act in a way that is desirable to Chinese girls. I only know how to act in a way that is strange to Chinese everyone.
I fight the same battle as Tommy Bahama, as Estee Lauder, as Louis Vuitton. We are products of Western culture judged by consumers of a Chinese culture.
We are fighting a battle on foreign soil, where we are not only untrained, but completely unaware of the rules. This leaves us with two options: we can either learn to master the new terrain, or we can shape the terrain into one that we are familiar with. In the next Red Beryls from Thomas Range stories, Sagon-Phior will present a series of blogs all about China—the new frontier in marketing. Stay with us to learn how to master the nuances of the Asian country—all brought to you straight from within the country itself.