Sunday, May 15, 2011


China is bustling.  There’s no two ways about it, good or bad, the place is rowdy.   It’s a developing nation, it’s changing faster than any nation has changed in modern times and currently it’s a mess.

 I’m sitting on a long distance bus while I’m typing this; we’re en route to Jiangyan, Leeds’ hometown for her cousin’s wedding.  As soon as the bus took off, they started blasting pop music.  There seems to be a speaker over every other double-seat section. 

I’ve noticed during my China exile that there is always some sort of noise going on.  Wherever you are, at any part of the day, it’s noisy.  I was thinking about this while in the bus station, waiting to take off.  First you’ve got the quantity of people here; there are tons of folks, everywhere at any given time of day.  And they seem to revel in noise or at least they don’t seem to value quiet.  Back home, whether you got a ton of people together or not, everyone slightly subdues their voice and keeps conversations within your own circles (I call it your indoors and outdoors voice).  Some folks would be reading, some on their laptops, or others just keeping quiet and thinking.  Here, it seems at all places there is hot and rowdy conversation going on.  From restaurants to bus stations, everywhere is loud and…bustling.  See 热闹 : “loud and bustling” and from what I understand, folks prefer it that way!

And on top of folks using their outdoors voices indoors, you got mobile phones constantly ringing, you’ve got music blaring over distorted and busted speakers, babies crying,  usually someone making announcements (it seems here, with a communist background, they love constant loudspeaker announcements).  It’s enough to really lead someone down a road of insanity…if you let it.  I’ve gotten better where after so many years, I’ve learned to tune it out, but it always amazes me how the Chinese accept it and to them the chaos is perfectly normal.

While I’m typing and the pop music is playing and everyone is having their own outdoor-voice conversation, the bus driver, every 45 seconds or so. pumps the excruciatingly loud horn.  Why does he do that?  Seems every time he passes someone, in the other lane, he feels the need to press the button.  Really, most drivers here are like “little boys with toys”…you have a button..why not push it?  And also drivers here are highly nervous.  They don’t honk because the other person did something wrong, they mainly do it to let you know…”here I come, get out of my way, because you never know what I’m liable to do”.

Now as I’m typing, a couple brings their daughter up front so she could pee on a pile of newspapers down the entrance steps to the right of the driver (she wasn’t a real small girl…7~8 maybe).  Make your own bathroom…gotta give ‘em points for being resourceful.   

I’ve noticed the constant noises, sounds and hustle can be a dulling agent.  You get calloused to it after a while.  Hardened to it you might even say; but it seems to come at a cost.  Sharp edges are not longer sharp after being submersed in so much clutter and banging.  From my years of managing a team, factories and life’s situations here, I’ve noticed the Chinese are inundated with sounds and background noise that they eventually treat everything like it’s background noise.  Ever wonder why you told your supplier or factory the same thing multiple times and they still didn’t listen?  Because they classified what you were saying as extra fluff, more noise and didn’t think to stop, slow down and like a cow chewing it’s dinner, "filter the hay from the sticks."  Because of all the noise here, it all sort of meshes in to “sticks”.   

Indeed the fruit of a developing nation.  Growing pains from the awkward kid to the more refined adult.  Maybe not;  perhaps this isn’t considered messy and chaotic in others’ eyes and they prefer the way it is.

May make this a part 1 and do part 2..."how to rise above the bustle and keep your senses intact..."

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