Friday, March 03, 2006

Early reader response to column

You know I love this one:

Alan,

As a Chinese living in US, I read most of news about China from all sorts of US papers and magazines. Now, every morning, the most enjoyable thing for me to do is to read your column while sipping my green tea. I love you columns. All the stories are so vivid and warm, every time I read it, I can see the stories unfolding right in front of my eyes. I especially love the one about going to breakfast and teaching English to two girls and a group of Chinese. I could not hold my smile when you wrote about your start student saying goodbye to you. I just wish you column would be available everyday on WSJ.

I would suggest you put those stories into a book. Because there are so many books talking about how to make money, how to decode Chinese politics. I haven’t seen a book about ordinary life of a foreigner in China, especially, from a foreigner’s perspective to experience the daily life in China with such an understanding and appreciative heart.

Good luck to you and your family. Hope Eli’s ankle has totally recovered.



Jin Guo


and my response:
Jin,

Thank you very much for your kind words and for taking the time to write. I appreciate your thoughts.

I have certainly considered seeking to write a book on my experiences but right now I am just trying to stay focused on writing some good columns. They run every other week and I could easily write them twice a week.

Where do you live in the States? I hope you are having a nice experience there.

Again, all the best and thanks for writing.

--
Alan Paul


Then there was this, not nearly as complimentary:

Dear Alan,

How long have you been in China? If it's more than six months you should be able to direct a driver. For shame otherwise -- it would demonstrate typical American arrogance and go against what I consider the basic rules of ex-pat life: behave as if you're visiting someone's home while in-country, make every effort to speak the local language on every occasion and treat everyone - especially simple service providers like taxi drivers, waiters and maids - with extra respect.

Regards,

Tom


And my response:

Tom,

I completely agree with you re: language.

Two things to consider:
1. I have always been a complete goober when it comes to languages, though I am trying really hard while here.

2. I have, perhaps foolishly, chosen the more difficult path of trying to learn characters rather than "just" spoken language. I take four hours of classes a week and study every night. I am progressing, though not as quickly as I would like. I can direct a cab pretty well, especially to places I know better. The Capital Gymnasium is on the other side of town and I am not familiar with street names etc over there.

Also, my language skills have already improved a great deal since I went to that show and I am feeling more confident trying to speak.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to write. The column runs every other Thursday and I hope that in continues to interest you.

Best,

--
Alan Paul