Regarde les Chinois : Patricia Li 李艺哲

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Patricia Li 李艺哲

Regarde les Chinois présente maintenant sa quatrième entrevue à Beijing. Native de Qingdao, Patricia Li vit maintenant à Beijing depuis la dernière année. Elle a vécu à Montréal, alors qu’elle était étudiante en administration à l’Université McGill, et écrit maintenant une chronique d’humeur hebdomadaire décrivant des scènes de vie à Beijing. Malheureusement, ses articles ne sont disponibles que sur la version papier du Luby, mais voici un échantillon (Google Translate) récent de ses écrits, parlant de fumer dans les restaurants en Chine.

Regarde les Chinois is now presenting its fourth interview in Beijing. A native of Qingdao, Patricia Li is now living in Beijing since the last year. She lived in Montreal, as a management student at McGill University, and now writes a weekly column depicting daily life scenes in Beijing for the Luby, a Montreal-based newspaper published in Chinese. Unfortunately, her articles are only available in Luby’s paper version, but here is a recent sample (Google Translate) of her work, telling her story of smoking in restaurants in China.

***

Comme les Chinois: You live in Beijing right now?

Patricia Li: Yep.

CLC: And you lived in Montreal for…

For two years and a half.

CLC: You studied there?

Yeah, I studied at McGill, in management.

CLC: And you worked in Montreal?

Just a part-time job, at the Chinese newspaper, and also Chinese travel agency.

CLC: What were you doing?

As a tour guide, for Wonder Travel, and gathering some news, or doing some marketing jobs for Luby.

CLC: So, now you’re writing for the Luby from Beijing?

Yah. They say, actually, they ask me to do that, is like, our reporter was asked to stay in Beijing for the Olympics. So, the title is really special, and I said “Ok!”, because I’m here, I can write something. I think it’s good for me too, because I want to be a reporter in the future, maybe for a TV station, so I think it’s good for me as well. Since I am doing that, I find it kind of pushed me to be really really… you kind of have to focus on the news all the time, and try to read as many newspapers as you can, in order to get insights from news.

Actually, for the first few weeks that I wrote the column, I find that all my news were from TV and newspapers. I kind of follow their stuff. After a few weeks, I find that the friends near me, the colleagues near me, what’s on their sites is more interesting, much better than what I see on big sites. So, I kind of start to do that(, cover stuff like they do).

Since I am doing a job that is (with) a performance firm, so I start to… I have to go out all the time, go to the five-star hotels, talk to the people working for, like, That’s Beijing English magazines. So, I can find a lot of topics to write from (these experiences).

CLC: Do you find it weird now to be on the other side of the microphone?

Yeah, it’s weird! I have to answer the questions that I discussed before (off mic)! You just ask back the questions, and the answer you actually know it, right!

CLC: Yeah, that was a really cool story, that you told, (happening) in the hotel…

Yeah, yeah… Actually, I think, when I saw it, I didn’t really want to write it as an article. I thought maybe it wasn’t really good… But after, I think maybe it’s a really good topic, because people… some people see (this kind of thing happening) but never write about it. I don’t think it can be published in Chinese newspapers either. So, only someone like me, who is doing articles, but published in Chinese newspapers outside of China (can write this). It’s one way to other people, other Chinese people know what is happening in China, what happens to Chinese people in China, but also what foreigners do in China. It’s not all good parts about foreigners, it’s also other parts of foreigners as well.

*** I am going to try to tell Patricia’s story again, since I cannot find the article on the Luby News website! One day, she, with a male Chinese friend is visiting some five-star hotel in Beijing. In the main lobby, they see a man, Western man, stretching his feet over the table, shoes off, as if he were in his living room. Something ticks off her friend about this behaviour, so he goes to the hotel staff to try to get them to tell the man to stop. They wouldn’t help Patricia’s friend, saying that it isn’t their job to take care of such behaviour. Of course, he thinks it’s because he’s a foreigner that they let him behave like this. So, instead he goes himself to the man, starts staring at him (since he cannot speak English so well). The man looks back at him, defiantly. They stare for a bit, until the man packs, grumbling, and leaves the scene. So, to prove a point, that hotel staff behave differently whether you are a foreigner or not, our friend starts taking position just like the Westerner previously did. Promptly, the hotel staff comes to him, and says that he can’t do that: it’s a five-star hotel lobby. “So, why did you let the Westerner do that, then?”

CLC: Do you like living in China, versus living in Canada?

I think here is… Because, here, I speak Chinese, I don’t feel kind of like an outsider. Like, in Montreal, I don’t speak French that well, so for a lot of stuff, I am kind of blocked from main(stream) society. And here, I mean we have more opportunities, not only for Chinese, but for foreigners as well. As long as you can speak English, you can find a job in Beijing.

You make friends… All people can be your friends, really. I think this is the good side, and also, another good side is that you are living in Beijing right now, and the Olympics are coming. So, you are the center of the world! And people, your friends in other cities in China, they have you back here to, like, “Hey Patricia, can I live at your place during the Olympics?!” (laughs) “Ok, that’s fine!”

CLC: You should rent it to them!

(laughs) No, it’s ok, only a few days, it doesn’t really matter. So, because you are in Beijing, the capital of China, actually a lot of people never come here. My mom, only came here one or two times, but never doing the tours. Also, my other friends, they always want me to present them (the city) when they come here. I can lead them to 天壇 (Tiantan), Heaven Temple. In Beijing, you have different places to go to… But here, winter’s cold, and summer’s hot, and it’s not as clean as Montreal, that’s for sure. Also, in the winter, although Montreal is colder, but as long as you come inside, you don’t feel cold at all, right. Here, outside is cold, and inside, the heater is not good enough, so you still have to wear a lot of stuff!

CLC: Yeah, it’s like that in Hong Kong too. When it’s like 15ºC, you freeze to death, it’s cold.

Yeah!

CLC: But in Montreal, when it’s 15ºC, you see people in shorts outside!

Yeah yeah! I like that. I do miss a lot of stuff in Montreal. I lived in Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal, three cities, during my school time. So, I liked Montreal the best.

CLC: What do you write about in the Luby?

Um, it’s a column, and we call it 草根 (Cao gen – literally, it means “Grassroots”). Cao gen is not a celebrity. It’s just real people (leading) real lives. So, I just talk as myself, as cao gen, and anywhere I go… maybe, some people think that cao gen is just people who go to cheap restaurants, and find a cheap place to buy clothes. If you stay in Beijing for a long time, you know which restaurant is good and also is cheap, and also where to buy clothes – you can save a lot of money like that. But this is kind of the spirit of people who are living here. You want to save money in order to buy more stuff.

I think… I think that is real life. I don’t think it counts as fact… I think that readers, when they read my articles, they will feel that this is me, as well. And if I am in Beijing, I would feel the same stuff. So, I think it’s really close to the readers.

*** At this point, we exchange on writing styles, as this blog that you are holding in your hands also prefers low-key daily life stuff.

CLC: Do you have a place to recommend to eat?

In Beijing?

CLC: Yeah. This restaurant (where we are sitting at), is it good?

It’s a Shanxi restaurant, it’s pretty good! (Talking to the microphone) Just give me a call when you are here! As long as you come from Montreal, I will be your guide here! (laughs)

CLC: (laughs) omg, are you sure of that?

Yes, I like to meet friends (from) Montreal. It’s a cool place.

CLC: Well, thank you Patricia.

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