How She Adjusted to Living in China

I asked an American friend who’s been in China for a year how the year had changed her. She told a story:

I was in a restaurant in Inner Mongolia. This guy was going around smashing things, throwing glasses. He was drunk. I was shocked. I expected a strong reaction: Get out of my restaurant! That’s not what happened. There was no strong reaction. The guy finally left and the staff cleaned up the mess he made. I’ve learned not to react strongly to unusual behavior.

I love this story. That travel changes your assumptions is hardly a new idea but this says it vividly and briefly.

7 Responses to “How She Adjusted to Living in China”

  1. Gunnar Says:

    Gene Sterling allegedly said: “You are not responsible for the stimulus, only how you respond to the stimulus.”

    So if you want peace, be peaceful. A la Gandhi – be the change you want to see in the world.

    Btw, what do people around there think about incarnation, Seth? Westerners are taught they are a body, die, and that’s it for their existence, as you probably know ;-)

  2. Alex Chernavsky Says:

    I find this story surprising. Are Inner Mongolians typically very tolerant of out-of-control drunks? If so, why?

  3. Seth Roberts Says:

    Alex, I don’t know the answer to your question.

  4. Bruce G Charlton Says:

    It shows this must be a society in which violence is rare and a temporary aberration. And also where drunken-ness is rare.

    In a high violence/ frequent intoxication society – such as the British Isles – the restaurant would not last a week.

  5. Alex Chernavsky Says:

    Bruce, apparently drunkenness is a huge problem in Mongolia:

    Mongolia’s drinking epidemic

    Heavy drinking in Mongolia is nothing new. Genghis Khan was reputed to have consumed huge quantities of alcohol after vanquishing his enemies.

    But today, alcoholism is reaching epidemic proportions, driven by cheap liquor and wrenching social and economic change.

    I visited a young man lying on an old iron bedstead in a bare white room inside an Ulan Bator hospital. The man was an alcoholic and this desolate room was his last resort. [...]

    This young man’s story is far from unique.

    Mongolia is today in the midst of an epidemic of alcoholism. On the streets of Ulan Bator you do not have to go far to see its effects.

    Ulan Bator railway station, even at 10am in the morning, was already crawling with drunks, many of them already so intoxicated they could hardly stand.

  6. Nancy Lebovitz Says:

    Another possible factor is trust that a drunk who’s breaking glasses won’t escalate to attacking people.

  7. Ragout Says:

    Maybe the drunk was the Mayor (or some other important person).