Oh Poo

I often talk about how I have a love-hate relationship with China. Some days I love it and some days I hate it. Today I am feeling particularly positive, probably because last night we had a delicious dinner with our friends D. & L. and relaxed at a newly opened bar.

So, even though I’m feeling good, I’ve got to get something off of my chest, and since this is my only real outlet, you’re going to have to read about it. (Or not. If you’re queasy, you might want to skip this one.)

I want to talk about poop, and sorry for being so crass, but that is the truth. See, there is close to zero privacy in China, which I can kind of understand in a country of one billion people. What I can’t understand is how it seems to be not only tolerated, but culturally acceptable to do your “business” wherever you darn well please.

Today on my bus ride home I accidentally caught sight of an ~eight year old boy squatting outside of a restaurant. He didn’t go around the side, or to a public bathroom, or even behind a bush. He went directly in front of the large windows of a restaurant, in full view of a very busy major road in the outskirts of Linyi.

Now, I’m no prude. After 5+ years working in a hospital there is no part of the human anatomy that I haven’t seen, and I’m accustomed to all sorts of nudity and bodily functions. Still, it is shocking to me the amount of “functions” I have been exposed to here.

Peeing on the side of the road seems to be quite common world-wide and it doesn’t really bother me. But when I see a little kid come running out of a small shop to the side of a busy street, where he proceeds to pull down his pants and make a deposit, meanwhile his mother cleans his backside and leaves the whole mess in the gutter…and they walk the 4 meters back to the shop to play, eat, wash their clothes and conduct their business, I am astounded. (Because there are public bathrooms and a huge empty field with grass and trees around the corner.)

I’ve seen toddlers copping squats in the supermarket on numerous occasions. Once, the mother shrieked and looked embarrassed, the other times, the mother looked on, disinterested. This was just pee, but still! The supermarket??!! Does no one else see the public health repercussions of this type of behavior? Hepatitis A is rampant in China – is it any wonder?

Admittedly, I come from a culture where there is a great deal of shame associated with body functions. But can’t there be a middle ground? A place where you don’t mind saying you have to use the toilet, (without resorting to the euphemism “use the restroom”), while still having the decency to do it in private?

Okay, crass rant over.

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2 Responses to “Oh Poo”

  1. suzie Says:

    Hi Heather,

    I am with you. It is discusting. I also love and hate it here (in Beijing). Even here you see the older kids pee and poo directly under your nose. I don’t care about their 5000 year old culture. This is uncivilized behaviour.
    Now, it is said. I feel better.

    By the way, thank you for visiting and the tip in your comment (I just saw it today)

  2. Heather Says:

    It is good to get things off the chest, isn’t it? I find that once I do that, I am back to normal again. (Not that I am ever gonna accept the behavior I posted about…)

    I enjoy your blog! I don’t go to Beijing very often, but when I do, I will use many of the suggestions you have made about places to eat, shop and visit. It must be great to be in a bustling city so full of opportunities. Linyi, where I live, is a nice little city, but my lack of Chinese really hinders many things I would like to do – like painting, calligraphy, etc.

    Okay, now I am going to go study Chinese… 🙂

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