Wuxi is a small city by Chinese standards (about 5 million people) with a relatively small non-Chinese population. Therefore, whenever we leave the house we are the subject of interest for other people. This is usually benign and can consist of staring and saying ‘kankan waiguoren (look foreigner)’ or even requests for photos.
As a naturally grumpy person, I hate it and have developed a whole new range of hard stares (to add to my already impressive repertoire). I don’t mind people who actually talk to me and ask where I am from etc., especially if they ask in Chinese (thus giving me speaking practice), but the people who just stare make me feel a bit like a zoo animal.
On the other hand, John doesn’t mind at all. Anyone who stares at him gets a friendly wave and ‘ni hao’, all photos posed for and requests for help with English grammar granted without a moment’s hesitation (although, as John teaches maths, not English, his advice might not always adhere to standard rules).
So, does this explain why John cycled to work with a Giraffe today?