Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Confucius and drunks - Kunming, China

(Spring 2007)
The foreigner is tipsy when he gets to the club. He circles the dance-floor, walking next to the tables. Some Chinese call him, hand him a small glass. He smiles, grabs it and toasts with a man, but when he's about to the the same with another guy, the first one stops him and asks him to drink. One more glass, another toast, and so on with all the members of the merry group. It's whiskey and green tea, not a good drink, but sweetish, watered down, easy to swallow.
The awakening is an inter-dimensional trip: as it often happens since he arrived to China he wakes up and feels lost, in an unknown place. However this time the sensation remains. Lying on the couch he stares at the ceiling, he dreamed of the vomit that is on his face. He turns his head defying a migraine and spots two girls who are sleeping on a bed: he remembers that one of them was at the club. He lifts the blanket and he's a bit ashamed when he notices that he's wearing someone else's boxers. He still hasn't managed to put the pieces together when his fingers touch a wound on his brow.
He was staggering and swaying when he walked out of the club. The girls helped him to get on the cab, but when he was about to tell the driver the address, his brain switched off and he collapsed on the seat. With some help from the driver they took him home. He fell on the stairs and hit the rail with his head. 
In the past other foreigners were drugged and robbed, but he can see his belonging on a table in front. The girls give him water and fix something to eat. They cleaned him and undressed him, sent his clothes to the laundry. In the West this is is considered a normal behavior but in China these things can't be taken as granted. 
An Italian who lives in China explains in his blog that in order to understand what happens in that country one should always remember the following statement: 
<<君君、臣臣、父父、子子 (jūnjūn, chénchén, fùfù, zǐzǐ)
According to Wikipedia a possible translation is:
There is government, when the prince is prince, and the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son is son.
(Confucius, Analects XII, 11)
The order of human society derives from respect for hierarchies. According to Confucius the five bonds are:
  1. Ruler to Ruled
  2. Father to Son
  3. Husband to Wife
  4. Elder Brother to Younger Brother
  5. Friend to Friend
In the list "the fellow men" just don't appear, those neighbors that "thou should love as thou love thyself".>> (From Itariajin)

Our drunk foreigner was lucky enough. Even in China - sometimes at least - exceptions step in to prove the rule. 

Portrait of Confucius by Wu Daozi, 685-758, Tang Dynasty, from wikipedia.org

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