In a week of birthdays (well in my life, anyway!) I’ve decided to take a slightly left field approach to what to get someone for a birthday present. In fact, it’s exactly what not to get someone as a birthday present- in China.
The Chinese, as most of us already know, the Chinese are a superstitious bunch… In fact, they won’t let me even write their names on the board in red ink, because doing so would signify blood, and therefore their impending doom. Odd? Perhaps. Believable? In China, I very much think so. (Note to the non-believers: do your Crashing A Bike homework, you’re very much behind!!).
Some general rules of the present process is to always spend in terms of seniority or importance, the more money= the more important the person is to you. Also, you are only required to spend the same amount of money on the person as they have done for you. So that’s a lesson to all those who buy DVDs from the discount bins and pass them off for top notch goods. (Editor’s note- Simon, you are a hypocrite, get off your high horse right now).
Nevertheless, if you are suddenly found in a position whereby you have to buy a present for a Chinese person, I’m here at hand to help you…. Never fear!!
Here are the top 5 NOT to buy….
1) Tick tock.
Yes, a clock. Giving a beautifully crafted clock might seem like the perfect ornate present for a loved one or close other, but in reality you have just mentally handed across a countdown to the end of their life… Something which I’d not be so thankful for, on reflection.
2) A pear
I’ve got a feeling that giving a pear to a lover for their birthday might not be too well received anywhere in the world, but none of these compare to the symbolism of giving it to a Chinese person. ‘Pear’ or 分梨 fēnlí sounds like the Chinese for ‘breaking up’ 分離, pronounced the same. This is liable to get you a slap- as is the fact that you got them a pear for a present. Double whammy. Apparently, for the sadists amongst you searching for extra trouble, half a pear is worse, as it’s already been split.
3) Use your loaf-er.
4) An umbrella
This is perhaps my least favourite, because it involves people getting wet instead of getting awkward. Apparently, giving an umbrella signifies that there is a dark shadow over the friendship. Perhaps the last act of decency is to give the departing friend an umbrella so that they are sheltered from the rain as they make an exit from your life. Therefore, if there is a choice between getting soaked and saving a difficult conversation, and helping a pal out with an umbrella, I’d wear a cagoule! It doesn’t bode particularly well that I was given one on my first day from the school I’m working at….
5) The man in the green hat.
This person is ideal to avoid. Very seldom will you see a Chinese person in a green hat, particularly in the company of a couple. This is the perfect way of signalling that the wearer is sleeping with one of the individuals, and is therefore an excellent gift to avoid!
A treat for all those not impressed by that, and need some more… Why green? Well, firstly it’s the colour of envy, but also it’s said that it’s because a turtle is green and a turtle will hide when in danger. Hiding under a green hat, therefore, is akin to giving an amigo a particularly awkward piece of news.
For those of you searching out a bit of fun with people’s often ludicrous comparisons of me to famous celebrities, I’ve had rather a mixed week. In fact, it was worthy of a graph.
I got my second (lifetime) comparison to Jude Law, which is just lovely, and I had a great day thanks very much. For the purposes of accuracy, I’ve managed a high quality, high budget, paint-job comparison.
I’d like to point out the astuteness of that comment, as well as the fact that I was staring wistfully into the distance as they said it. Lovely.
But then yesterday the ego did a helter-skelter of epic proportions and naturally ended on its backside.
Let me explain: I was pottering around school yesterday when a girl came rushing up to me saying:
-“Oh…. It’s you, Simon. I’ve missed you.”
For two reasons the ego was soaring, the latter being that the English was spot on. I was about to carry on with my day with a spring in my step, then it came. Spoiler alert, neutrals, it’s not a pretty ending. Here’s how it starts, and I’d say it gets progressively worse.
She continued: “Show me your teeth.”
Never in my dental life has that sentence led on to better things.
“Haha, you look like Goofy.”
I told you. But then again I told you it gets worse…..
“It’s so cute.”
Never since 1929 on Wall Street has there been a bigger crash in confidence. Safe to say I was leaving that class in a considerably worse mood.
At this point I’m again going take some time out for family birthdays, this time to wish my brother a happy one- for yesterday. Classy.
Have a good week!!