Tracking the Wind, I’m Chasing the Gale

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It goes without saying that people the world over have their own foibles and funny habits. I’ve noticed that Chinese people are in no short supply of idiosyncracies. For instance, Chinese people really enjoy walking backwards.

Whenever I’m taking a much-needed respite in the wide open landscape of Lianyungang, I can catch a Chinese person or two walking backwards. I thought it peculiar at first, no question. Then I thought that maybe I could relate this odd sight to some extreme weather conditions. Say, for example, if the wind was blowing up a heavy gale and one wanted to shield their facial orifices from the onslaught of air. But there seems to be no excuse for walking backwards on a perfectly nice, calm and sunny day. I’ve been told that the Chinese believe that walking backward is good for health. Hmm.

I went for a run the other night at the university’s track. It was late – maybe around 10:30 or so. I expected to see a few couples sitting on the soccer field in tender moonlit embraces, but I was not prepared for the mob of people that I came across. Did I mention that this was a Friday night? Well, it most certainly was past 10 pm on a Friday (I had my own reasons for engaging in rigorous cardio at this hour) and I think I nearly stumbled over half the student body on the track and adjoining playground. I thought to myself: this is what college would be like if teetotalism was more popular than the current exploits that are in vogue on western campuses. And, of course, many of the people on the track got a glimpse of my face, flush from the effort of running, as I lapped them. They were walking around the track in reverse. Perhaps they thought I was some kind of monster apparition of the night.

Rory Keane
Rory Keane is an American-born teacher and writer who has logged nearly two years in China, and is working on another year-long stint in the Middle Kingdom. He writes about travel, sociopolitical issues, health, entertainment, and culture, among other topics.
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