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美国媒体:希望北京膀爷来旧金山时穿上衬衫

(2008-12-09 07:01:49)
标签:

北京膀爷

礼貌

文化

分类: 奇文共赏

美国《旧金山纪事报》12月7日文章发表署名Josh Green的文章,题目是Beware the 'courtesy gap' in Beijing(小心北京的“礼貌差距”),王晓雄摘译转载如下(英语原文附后) :

 

美国媒体:希望北京膀爷来旧金山时穿上衬衫


北京不是个适合于“人群恐惧症者”的地方。在这个拥有1500万人口的城市里,无论白天黑夜,街上总是挤满了人。而且,“礼貌差距”有些令人难以忍受。

  我曾试图去比较东西方大城市之间礼貌行为的不同。后来,我意识到,这就像是在拿荔枝与桔子作比较。中国的经历和历史与我们完全不同。对北京人来说,我的“礼貌观”可能是外来的,而他的“礼貌观”对我来说也是如此。

  在北京一条繁忙的街道上,我看到一位妇女试图将自行车停靠在角落里。后来,她不小心从车上掉了下来,我赶忙跑过去帮她扶起自行车并看她有没有受伤。后来,我才意识到我是唯一这么做的人,周围有数十人经过,但他们甚至都没瞧她一眼。

  在北京排队能更明显地感到礼貌差距。排队的概念在中国发生了改变,成了一大群人挤向一个点。当我在北京站乘火车去西安时,这种感觉让我很痛苦。进入安全入口时几乎被挤碎。总有人会插到前面去且不打招呼,只是因为他们动作更快、身手更敏捷。我们把这称为是粗鲁,而他们则把这叫做机会最大化。

  这里行人必须屈服于汽车和自行车。别指望几条人行横道或小小的绿灯就意味着什么。随心所欲地按喇叭不算粗鲁,而是保证生活质量的必需。

  所有这一切让我感到,北京的生活并不是有礼貌的。但我知道这并不正确,人们很容易落入基于一个游客的有限观察就做出错误文化对比的陷阱。可是,在拥挤的公交车上,为什么除了我,没一个人帮助推婴儿车的妇女?地铁里,为什么我的鼻子要贴到其他乘车人的腋窝处?为什么中年男子在夏天可以光膀子走在大街上?我知道天气很热,但真热到这个程度吗?随它去吧!下次挤地铁,我也用胳膊肘去挤。

  冷战时期有关中国是个顺从、有序的国家的陈旧观念也许从来就不是真的,起码现在肯定不是。与其他美国城市相比,北京是有组织的混乱。在未来10年中,北京可能会变得更加现代、更加混乱。我们这些寻求建立更紧密关系的人应试着去理解北京的生存技巧。但我希望,那些光膀子的人在访问旧金山时能穿上衬衫。▲(王晓雄译)

 

Beware the 'courtesy gap' in Beijing
Josh Green
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Beijing is not a place for demophobes - those with a fear of crowds. In this city of 15 million people, the streets are packed, night and day. In the summer the oppressive heat, humidity and smog, along with the equally oppressive crowds, is a traveler's nightmare.
The essential question for Beijing - and for the hearty pilgrims watching its lightning-fast transformation from Third- to First-World technology and architecture - is this: Do all of the great city's cultural treasures make up for all of the inconveniences? Perhaps so. But some may find the "courtesy gap" a little harder to swallow.
This courtesy gap is the inevitable result of a city of such density instilling in its residents a desperate sense of self-preservation. For a while I tried to compare the Western and Eastern big-city notions of courteous behavior. Then I realized that it's like comparing lichees and oranges. The Chinese experience, and its history, is so different from ours that a casual tourist should probably suspend judgment. My idea of courtesy is probably as foreign to a Beijinger as his is to me.
On a busy street in Beijing, I noticed a woman trying to park her bike amid a glut of bikes on the corner. Becoming tangled, she began to fall with her bike into a dangerous clot of rusty frames, pedals and tires. I'm no Lancelot, but I did rush over to help her pick up her bike and make sure she was unhurt. It wasn't until later that I realized that I had been the only one to do so, even though dozens of people had passed by her without even a glance her way.
Of course, the same thing would have happened in New York, so Americans have no pedestal to stand on. But there are some fundamental differences between the cities of East and West, and those differences become clear when measuring the courtesy gap.
Diversity, or lack thereof, plays a role in Beijing, where 95 percent of the population is Han Chinese. Anyone with extraordinary skin, facial features or clothes should prepare to get noticed and stared at. An innocent but usually charming inquisitiveness - free of Americans' self-conscious, eye-averting "leave that person alone" ideology - is part of the experience when you travel around China. A not-so-charming aspect of this, which I have heard second-hand from expats and other permanent residents, is that racism against those with darker skin, say someone of African American or Indian descent, is unfortunately not uncommon.
The courtesy gap becomes all too apparent in the dreaded Beijing line. The concept of a line has been altered in China to mean large crowds that funnel toward a single point. This was made painfully obvious to me trying to board a train to Xian at Beijing's central railway station, a monolithic building with double towers that rivals Port Authority in New York. The security entrance to the station was, rather than a line, a crush of humanity. For a brief moment, I remember the panic I felt one night at the Castro Halloween celebration when I felt the breath slowly squeezed out of me by a panicked crowd.
There's a Road Warrior mentality both in lines and on the roads. If you are not close enough to a window or table where you need to make some kind of transaction, it's understood that someone can cut in front of you with no repercussions. They are simply quicker and more agile. Tough luck for you. Here we call it rude; there they call it maximizing opportunity.
Pedestrians must yield to both cars and bikes (motorized and nonmotorized). Don't expect the few crosswalks or the little "green man" - the Chinese "walk" sign - to mean much of anything. Liberal use of the horn is not rude, but necessary to preserve life.
It all contributes to the sense that life in Beijing is less genteel, but I know this isn't true. It's easy to fall into the trap of making a false cultural comparison based on the limited observations of a tourist. Why, on a crowded bus, does no one (except me) help a woman with a stroller? Why must I have my nose in the armpit of my fellow subway rider? Why is it acceptable for middle-age Chinese men to walk around in the summer with their shirts pulled up to their nipples, exposing their unappealing large guts. I mean, I know it's hot - but really?
I can't hope to leap over the courtesy gap if I get bent out of shape every time I run into a courtesy conflict. So I let it go, and use a little elbow the next time I get on the packed subway.
The Cold War stereotype of China as a country of obedient, orderly followers may have never been true, but it's certainly not true now. Beijing, more than U.S. cities, is organized chaos, and it's likely to get both more modern and more chaotic in the decade to come. It's up to us, as people seeking closer ties, to cut China a little slack and try to understand Beijing survival techniques in context.
But I hope the old guys keep their shirts on when they visit San Francisco.
Josh Green is a copy editor at The Chronicle.

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