|View of Shanghai from breakfast window|
|A calm lunch spot|
|Not everything is modern|
On my recent trip to Shanghai I felt we were all in a dance. Every conversation was circular. Formal. Oh oh so polite. Meals had a protocol, not always visible but revealed like the lace beneath the skirt, slowly and carefully, if you were paying attention. (I admit at times to being too distracted by my inability to keep the slippery food, including cow's stomach, on my chopsticks to pay full attention at all times.)
Rush hour on the metro, where people might display their worst manners, was quite pleasant. Yes one must move quickly to avoid being run over, but there was no pushing and shoving like we often see here in Paris. When the metro was comfortably full the remaining people waited for the next one. No one held the doors open in order to squeeze into an impossible space.
|Night view before they turn off the office buildings at 8PM|
In the midst of such politeness however I did see some rather unpleasant behaviour. While having a nightcap in the hotel lobby bar one evening, I could not help but notice (i.e. hear) the group of American men at the next table. They managed to insult each of the beautiful servers in turn, apparently believing it was within their rights to do so. They propositioned each without grace (or effect). Their approach included asking where they could obtain a massage "with a happy ending". And following their lack of success with such classy moves, they expressed their disappointment in Shanghai's level of entertainment.
So I wonder: is this the typical behaviour of these men at home in the US? Or is this behaviour reserved for Asia, and based on some opinion about Asian women? Is it possible that the manners of this trio adjust as they travel throughout the world, and if so, how do they choose the behaviour best suited to that place?
What a shame if the actions of this small group reflect more generally on a larger population. Although unrealistic as an expectation, it would have pleased me greatly to see the other men in the bar speak up, even if just to distance themselves from such inappropriate talk. Perhaps the lack of success with these tactics will be enough to change future interactions for the trio, but I would have been more reassured if they were set right by their peers.
This post is not intended to be a comment on American men. I am sure that many of us manage to insult others during our travels, hopefully without bad intentions. I wonder too if we have lost our ability to enforce good manners, now that we are so separated from others in our daily lives.
What do you think?