Those small differences
Last year I wrote a post about how C. and I never fight. That is still true, but I have to confess we sometimes have “fake fights”. These fake fights almost always have to do with things that are done differently in our respective cultures. “How can you people do this like that? It’s obviously wrong! Our way is much better!”. “We Chinese people have always done it like this and it has proven to be useful for 5,000 years!”. The words “we Spanish people” and “we Chinese people” are thrown around a lot. It’s a lot of fun!
The last time this happened was last week. C. got a fruit basket as a Mid-Autumn Festival present (way better than mooncakes, if you ask me, although we also got two boxes of those). One of the fruits included was pomegranate! I had not eaten it in years. That night after dinner we ate one. I was surprised to see that C. was spitting out the small seeds. He was flabbergasted to see that I wasn’t. “Why are you eating the seeds? That is weird!”. “Why are you spitting them? That is weirder! They are very small!”. “Everybody spits them in China!”. “Well, nobody spits them in Spain!”. He even took pictures of his napkin with small seeds and mine totally empty and posted them in his WeChat. Mostly everybody was on his side, but because we are in China. In Spain, the result would have been different! Besides, spitting the seeds is a tactical error when sharing a pomegranate: you eat slower and your opponent (that is, me) will eat most of the pieces while you are busy taking the tiny seeds out of your mouth.
This episode got me thinking about other trivial matters that are also done in different ways. For example, Chinese people usually shower at night. Their thinking is: “I have to remove the dirt from the day and go to bed clean”. In Spain, most people shower in the morning. Our thinking is: “Showering will help me wake up. Besides, I have to be clean when facing people today”. There is no right or wrong answer, it’s just a matter of habits. After moving together, C. started showering in the morning. I guess he thought the bed would be dirty anyway because of me so whatever!
One place where there are many differences is the kitchen. I should write a post about that! Some are very obvious, like eating with chopsticks or knife and fork, but others are more sneaky. Not long ago I found out C. used chopsticks to whisk eggs. I use a fork. In the end we bought a small hand whisk. Problem solved! Now we both are right!
Have you ever been in a conversation with a Chinese person and they have pointed at their nose when referring to themselves? That is also a funny difference I found. When referring to ourselves (imagine someone accusing you of doing something, and your reaction being “Who, me?”), Spanish people point to our chest. Chinese point at their noses. “Me?”.
Have you noticed similar funny differences with your partner or friends from other countries?