One of the main prejudices peddled around in Italy about the Chinese living there is that they’re very cold and in some way mysterious. Apparently they enjoy being confined in their own “ghetto” where they can selfishly do their own business completely undisturbed. One would say that they just prefer to stay in the “community” without any interest in building up a relationship with those who don’t speak mandarin.
What actually encouraged me to come to China, among other relevant reasons, was also to see how many unsocial individuals I would encounter along the way!! ;)
I can’t deny there are some situations, life in Shanghai presents, in which it’s objectively hard for that prejudice to be dismantled. Consider, for example, the disrespectful conduct of many Shanghainese when taking the metro. Most of the times they just shove you aside to get on the train and hopefully find a free seat. It’s very inconsiderate, isn’it?
Nevertheless generosity and hospitality are concepts Chinese traditional culture has always been attached to. The answer Confucius gave to those asking him how to serve ghosts and spirits is quite relevant in this respect: “As long as you are unable to serve people, how can you serve ghosts?”
It didn’t take me too much effort to realize that these values are still alive in modern China. It was sufficient for me to go around the country and Shanghai’s different areas to make such discovery!
When my workmate Maya and I explored Jinze(a charming water town in Quinpu district) we suddenly came across a bunch of feisty friends who were having lunch alongside the canal. To our great surprise, as soon as they noticed our presence, they invited us to join them! We were offered some delicious food by the lady who’d arranged the meal for them. We chatted for more than an hour while other locals were gathering around the table, eager to be part of the company. It was simply amazing!!
Another travel experience I recently had is even more meaningful. I spent the Chinese New Year in the Tibetan villages of Sichuan. All of the pretty Buddha – shaped houses scattered around the area are inhabited by extraordinary men and women who are always willing to give you a warm welcome without you having to ask to come in!! They’ve truly restored my faith in humanity!
You probably need to detect the right places in order to find good and hospitable people….especially in China!