Friday, October 12, 2007

Bridging the Gap

This year may mark the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, but the cultural divide is still a wide one.

One Hong Konger told me when she went to a five-star hotel for a posh culinary event in Beijing, she was surprised to see many of the mainland guests, who had paid 2,000RMB (US$266.30) each were wearing T-shirts and jeans, when she wore a cocktail dress.

Then when they got tired of standing around eating hors d'oerves and drinking wine, they crouched down in the middle of the ballroom. She wanted to tell them if they were tired, they could sit in the chair.

When dinner was served, prepared by Michelin-star chefs, wine was served at the table. And my friend and her fellow diners swished the red wine in their glasses to let it breathe.

A woman at the next table wanted to emulate them, but when she tried to swirling the wine in her glass, it sprayed out all over the table.

I hope no one was wearing white.

Many Hong Kongers try to distance themselves as much as they can from their northern cousins. Some may think this is an arrogant attitude, while others say the differences are so great, the chances of fully integrating culturally is next to impossible.

However, money talks and no one in the Special Administrative Region can deny that China calls the shots when it comes to the Hong Kong economy.

Hopefully someone will teach them how to swirl wine in a glass properly and wear proper attire to high-class events soon. It's in everyone's best interests.

1 comment:

ks said...

it takes a whole generation or more to become sophisticated, to be educated. what we see now is the result of the cultural revolution in the 60's. we remember the ugly americans in the 50 and 60's. the arrogant hongkongers in the 70 and 80's. now it is china's turn. when the cultural maturity lags behind wealth you will see this sort of strange sights. give them time to learn. and they learn much faster than westerners. on a recent visit to china, i was surprised by the politeness of the immigration officer. in the old days they have a masked face when checking your passport. now they smile and say thank you even handing back my passport with both hands. i think a public school of etiquettes is in order.