‘Bing de ma?’

By Leila Hashemi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/12 17:53:40

"What's that drink? I think I will get one," my friend said as we walked down the hutong alleyways.

My sister and a long-time friend had just arrived in China, and we were off wondering, but it was hot! My friend reached for a drink in a cooler, and when he touched it he said, "Wait, this is hot."

I laughed and realized that there was one thing I had forgotten to mention - cold drinks and ice aren't always on tap in China.

As the day went on and we dined in various restaurants and visited tourist attractions, we decided to rest for a bit and grab a beer.

My friend ordered us some Coronas, and again, they were room temperature. I for one do not like hot beers either, and so I told them that's why my Chinese name is bing bing. Bing is the word for ice in China, and when I first arrived, I was also taken aback by the iceless situation in the capital city.

It seemed that I could only get an ice cold drink from McDonald's, but as time wore on, I became more and more accustomed to the warmth of the drinks in China.

When reaching for what I hoped would be a cold beer in a convince store cooler, I discovered the can was as hot as a tin roof in summer. So, now I stuff them into my backpack and then into my freezer, waiting patiently for the temperature to drop.

Even more recently, I found a few apps that deliver ice. I can still see the look on my delivery driver's face as he handed me a bag of ice on a blistering cold Beijing winter night - it wasn't pretty. Thankfully, I have learned the phrase "bing de ma?" to ask if a drink is cold in Chinese, so this way I am not sorely disappointed when I order something and it comes out warm or hot.

When I am around my Chinese friends and drink iced drinks in the winter, they ask me things like if it hurts my stomach and tell me that I am throwing off my yin and yang. To which I reply as Elsa from Frozen (2013) would, "The cold never bothered me anyway!"

Every area, country or even district has their own quirks and way of life. For me, it wasn't the food, the transportation or even the language barrier that gave me the biggest culture shock, it was being "bing-less."

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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