08.02.2013 - 08.02.2013
Oh life, and it's little ups and downs. Claire and I are still not gelling, as it were, and it may take some time to gel. I accept, here and now, that a lot of this is down to me. I can see that. I should be thankful, our relationship is showing my flaws, even to me and I just document this episode for the sake of the blog.
You know that I grudgingly accepted her invitation to give a family some free English practice or to make friends, depending on which one of us you ask, and probably offended her in being reluctant because a foreigner is suppose to accept an offer of hospitality, however apparently self-interested, graciously as an honour to the foreigner. Please read 'a text message exchange' for more information.
Think of the Beatles leaving Manila, I think it was, by the skin of their teeth, having greatly offended the First Lady Imelda Marcos by turning down a meeting with her. It's one of the customs you have to observe in China and the way I see it, it could lead to a lot of mis-understanding. If the Brit says "Yes of course I'd love to spend a few weeks getting to know you and your ten year old" he does but obey Chinese laws of etiquette which require him to make some such remark. This is one reason why I don't mince my words. Of course, white or purple or green lies are more acceptable here but I've never been comfortable with them. It just perpetuates mis-understanding. Or does it? I'm not sure I'm good enough to know.
So I agreed the smallest amount of time to spend with this family, rather than live with them, as Claire wanted. But I asked today if we could go to Mr Pizza for lunch, instead of their house initially, so that I can kill two birds with one stone, and speak to the manager there. I rang him the other day about the poor service and he's very keen to meet to discuss my suggestions. Then Claire asked me who the host would be and I suddenly realised that, well, yes, I was not going to buy them all five or however many of them Pizza, wasn't a free English corner enough?
Claire texted me basically saying you can ask them yourself to pay because I couldn't ask them to do this.
Claire: A bit curious. u decide time. place. and have some other goal but ask the other to pay. I can not ask them to pay, I suggest you express your idea to them.
Good point. So I initially texted back:
'Ok. I will meet them at their home, as originally planned. Then there is no risk of offence. I thought that because I had declined payment my request for a small concession in return might be understood but I agree that it complicates things.
Claire: I got your point.
But then I thought, screw it. And sent this:
'Actually I think I will just be the host. So I will pay, no problem.'
This actually is rather devious and nice at the same time. Which is almost impossible. Tune in for developments...