City’s image rests in hands of every individual resident
Published: Nov 17, 2014 06:13 PM
The Food and Hospitality China (FHC) is Shanghai's annual grand exhibition of imported food, wine and beverages. As the media partner, the Global Times had a booth, where our colleagues conversed with current or potential readers in an effort to bring information and suggestions back to the newsroom. This year, we offered souvenirs to visitors who added our WeChat account as traditional media are all trying to serve the readers better through the new social media platform.

I was on duty at the booth for two days, so I had the opportunity to taste delicious food from all over the world and talk with visitors, exhibitors and readers about the quality of our newspaper.

A German father and his daughter, surnamed Müller, left the strongest impression on me. The senior Müller told me that his experience definitely deserved media exposure as he lost his luggage and belongings Thursday. On that day, Müller and his daughter arrived at the hotel by taxi, and when his daughter was still paying the fare, a stranger got in the taxi and hurriedly urged the driver to go to a new place.

The Müllers didn't realize that they had left their luggage and belongings in the car until the taxi had disappeared. Müller said that he had been a person without any ID or money before the driver returned to the hotel hours later with Müller's property, thanks to the taxi receipt the younger Müller took. As a wine dealer, the senior Müller presented the driver with a box of expensive wine as a reward. He applauded the driver for returning, but I can't agree. I would say that the driver was the one primarily responsible for the incident.

Müller brought wine samples from eight different wine producers in his region in Germany. He told me that the wine was of high quality. When I tried several samples the junior Müller introduced, I found that I loved the taste, though I might not have the words to describe it like a true wine enthusiast.

Just before the exhibition concluded, I asked whether they would sell the sample wines, which is a common practice among exhibitors. The senior Müller said firmly that he wouldn't. The wine wasn't authorized for sale in China, so it was against the exhibition's rules to sell any of it. However, he said he would give me a bottle for visitors to the Global Times booth to sample. As for my request to buy some bottles, he refused even though I reiterated that I wouldn't cause him any trouble. Hmmmm, the German style, I have to respect it. I hope that they can open the Chinese market in the near future and impress Chinese consumers with their wine.

But some of my Chinese compatriots' behaviors during the exhibition upset me. We lost scores of souvenir pens and several mugs. Without our consent, some visitors just grabbed the souvenirs and fled. Some pretended to scan our WeChat code before taking off with the souvenirs, leaving my colleagues dumbfounded.

When I enquired about the ingredients and flavors of a biscuit in the Italian pavilion, a Chinese man in his 50s approached the booth and tasted some samples. Then, without the owner's consent, he put some of the packages into his own bag, which was already brimming with other food samples. When the Italian booth owner tried to stop him, the interloper ignored him and then, unexpectedly, smiled at me. It made me feel awkward, as if I were his accomplice. At that moment, I wished I had never approached that booth.

When the exhibition ended, I couldn't help thinking that just as the Müllers were the spokespeople for their country, the taxi driver, the exhibition visitors and I were our city's representatives. How much farther does Shanghai have to go to become a city where the majority of its residents can expose positive energy to the outside world?