Leaving the “Land of no why”

There is so much to see and do in China.  The name of the place alone evokes exotic dreams of mystique and adventure.  I had all that during my second trip to the vast country’s two major cities.  I am still far from even scratching the surface to better understand the complex culture or collection of cultures that make up China.  What I noted on this trip however is despite the budding artist scene, the emerging creative designs of clothes and buildings; this country is still very much the land of following rules.  A central power decides whatever is good for all, from the government structure to the management of companies, to public functions to airports (I’ll get to my airport experience later-shudder).  In typical Chinese schools, pupils are expected to perform according to a rigid set of rules and standards that stifle creativity.  You do as you are told, like coloring inside the lines-full stop.  You find that same manifestation when dealing with people in many aspects of everyday life.  You are looked at quizzically when attempting to ask why things are done in a particular manner, and when I asked the airport check-in employee why something was a certain way, and why couldn’t she make an exception, she kept referring to a typed up, framed set of rules in Chinese and bad english that she obviously lived by.  And when I told her (upon her suggestion that I send half of my photography equipment by post to Geneva rather than being allowed to carry them on board) if she was capable of doing anything that was not in line with her set of rules, and whether common sense is something she was aware of, she glared at me with such loathing; she even followed me to the door of the plane and demanded that I throw some of my equipment away rather than bring on board more than I was allowed in her prescribed weight.  I asked her “what if I were obese?” would she make me leave an arm behind?  In the end I had to resort to the common sense of the Dutch flight Purser who overruled the little lady with flaming angry eyes who almost followed me to my seat trying to make me throw one my camera lenses away or leave it behind to be posted later “for the comfort of other passengers”.  Her absolute devotion to her set of rules and sense of duty had to motivate her to try and teach me a lesson when I foolishly asked her about the whereabouts of her common sense.  And I dared asked “why?”  in the land of no why.

no why

no why

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