Are people in Shenzhen nicer?

By Kylin Zhang Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/22 14:43:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

My dog has become considerably nicer since we moved to Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. He has not barked once at other dogs, impatiently jumped up and down while waiting for me to feed him every morning or growled at strangers knocking at my door. 

At first, I thought he was just adjusting to changes from the move. We drove all the way from Beijing to Shenzhen, which took three days. We had terrible food on the road and little sleep.

But as time went by, he kept the same level of gentleness. Sometimes he sees another dog on the street and plunges forward, wagging his tail, as if it is his best friend that he hasn't seen in ages.

I gradually realized it's not a change on my dog's part; it's because of the environment. In my opinion, people in Shenzhen are a lot nicer than in Beijing, or the entire northern region.

The other day, I went to a restaurant. Shortly after I sat down, the waiters brought me lemon water, paper towels and neatly laid dishes and chopsticks in front of me. During the meal, they came by my table several times to refill my water and once to open up a new packet of wet towels and laid it at my hand.

Sure, you could say they were supposed to do that. But I've never had this type of service back in Beijing. In Beijing's restaurants, I'd be lucky if they got my order right and usually, there isn't anyone around to wait on you until you decide to leave - then they'll chase you to the door and ask you to pay the bill.

Strangers I met on the streets in Shenzhen have been exceptionally nice. One time, I asked for directions from a young woman; she not only pointed out my destination to me but kindly walked 500 meters with me until I saw the road she was pointing to. It was bordering spookiness, really.

It's also easier to start up conversations in Shenzhen. When I was in Beijing, I visited a famous tourist hutong and wanted to ask an old man, who apparently resides there, the history of the place, but he only slanted his eyes to glimpse at me, then walked away shaking his head, not even willing to waste one word on me.

But in Shenzhen, I struck up a long conversation with a woman the other day while walking on the beach. Our dogs had the same type of fur, so we started chatting. Before long, we were talking about our reasons for coming to the city and exchanging tips on shopping and gourmet.

I contribute the niceness of the people to a variety of reasons. Shenzhen is an immigrant city, everybody felt new to the city at one point and everybody's welcome to new friends and ideas. Furthermore, Guangdong has a culture of business and trade, which requires everybody to be nicer to others; you never know when you can make a useful connection. Either way, I love this tradition.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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