No spitting sign in the subway

The thing I dreaded most, as a parent raising his children in a foreign land, has come to pass. My 5 year old daughter, Ellie, has started spitting. There’s no question where she picked it up. China is the spittinest place I’ve ever seen, and I have seen a few places. Spitting has got to be one of the “hottest” items where cultures collide as there is simply no way to avoid the (to my sensibilities) aural assault as people hawk in the loudest manner conceivable and spit away to their heart’s content. The degree of revulsion experienced by expats serves as a litmus test for Beijing compatibility.

One of the most annoying effects of all these loogies is that it is downright near impossible to avoid the countless puddles that dot the sidewalks and even floors of many buildings. Beijing citizens, when questioned by perplexed foreign friends who finally get up the nerve to inquire, often claim that it is only the countryside people who flock to Beijing in search of a better life who engage in this sort of behavior but I don’t buy it. I decided to do some investigating and there is, in fact, a historical explanation.

It turns out they may have a very valid reason for all of this expectorating. Most people know that is one of the most ancient and comprehensive bodies of knowledge, though some proponents of modern Western medicine may question its validity. In China, is considered to be chock full of gooey “evils” that should properly be expelled out of the body.

While this does seem to lend a note of credibility to the practice, I suppose it is the manner of the expulsion I question. After all, couldn’t they do it in a less overt fashion, say in the rest room? I know it isn’t really my place to try to change the behavior of an entire nation but I do think that with the Olympics coming up and all of the subsequent image campaigns already in place, it wouldn’t be too hard to add this one to list of behaviors that will make Western visitors more comfortable. Except maybe baseball players, that is. Reddit Slashdot Digg Facebook Technorati Google StumbleUpon Furl Yahoo Ask Mister Wong China Newsvine Simpy Spurl Wink Rawsugar Squidoo Fark