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I enjoy being single

[ 2009-06-04 14:04]     字号 [] [] []  
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I enjoy being singleMy 34-year-old work colleague was beaming with joy, giving away sweets to everybody. Xie Fang was finally getting married and no longer felt a sheng nu (left behind woman).

I am told that the age of 28 is a most desirable age for matrimony, and when a woman reaches this time (men are given a few extra years' grace), a NASA-style countdown begins.

Xie could hear the clock ticking loudly for years so I understand her sweet gratitude. But as I was chewing on these lollies and minding that question was launched at me.

It was the same question I've been asked at least 50 times in China, but never before like this.

"Shenme shihou keyi chi ni de xitang? (when are we going to eat your wedding candy?)" asked one colleague.

This is the polite Chinese way of saying: "Why the heck are you still single and why aren't you married?"

I enjoy being single

Taxi drivers, from Beijing to Kunming, are always bringing up the subject.

My cabbie conversation always bounces along exactly like this.

Me: Hello.

Taxi driver: Hello.

Me: Sorry, I can't speak Chinese very well but ...

TD: You speak extraordinarily well. I understand what you say.

Me: No I don't, but thank you.

TD: Where are you from?

Me: Australia, and you? Are you a Beijinger?

TD: Yes, I'm a Beijinger.

Me: How long have you been driving a taxi?

TD: About four years. (Pause). How long have you lived in China?

Me: About three years, and you?

TD: (Cabbie thinks for a second and laughs) How old are you?

Me: I am 42.

TD: Are you married?

Me: No.

TD: Really, you're 42 and you're not married? Mmmmmm?

And then he asks about my wedding candy.

I have never met a Chinese cabbie over 40 who is single, and these chaps insist I join the married-with-children club.

Married life is great and I rate this sacred institution right up there with folk dancing, flute playing and collecting stamps.

But now I'm single and I enjoy it very much, especially in China.

My status offers me ample time to explore, and most importantly, learn the local language.

Chinese friends say I should get a Chinese girlfriend to facilitate the learning process, but I think a good teacher is better and preferable - someone I'm not attracted to, so I can focus.

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