Sunday, August 17, 2008

China is not the United States

Monday marks the beginning of my final week in China, and while it's been one of the more interesting educational experiences of my life, I'm really ready to get home, see my girls, spend time with my wife, and of course, spend time with Mike'l Severe. It's been way too long without a full 4 hours of sports talk for me, and I'm anxious to get back. Someone reminded me the other day that this would be what it would be like if I actually took vacations....I might be off the show for a week or two. I responded that there's a reason I don't take vacations too often. I enjoy what I do, and miss it when I don't.

But from an educational standpoint, I've enjoyed learning and trying to navigate around a culture in which I truly am at a giant disadvantage. Taxi cab navigation, ordering at a restaurant, shopping...all things in which the language barrier becomes an issue. I'm not sure, though, what one of my latest finds is all about. I'm thinking political correctness is a little late in arriving in Beijing.

In the International Broadcast Center, which is our headquarters in Beijing, they have it set up much like a little town. It's a giant building, housing all the broadcasters, but it's got a newsstand, post office, bank, plenty of restaurants, and a general store. I walked into the general store earlier today, and saw something that caught my eye.

The picture you see to the left is the most popular brand of toothpaste here in China. On sale in the IBC for 15 yuan, which is one of the pricier places to buy items like that here in Beijing. Probably half that price at a local grocer, but they know most of the press isn't as likely to venture out into the world as I am (who thought I'd ever be among the more adventurous people in Beijing?)

The name of the toothpaste is Darlie. That's a recent name change, from Darkie. Yes, that's right. The most popular toothpaste, the toothpaste with the smiling man on the box, used to be named Darkie. They changed the name to Darlie, but unfortunately, they didn't change the Chinese name, also on the box. I asked a guy we have working with us for the Chinese translation. This toothpaste is "Black Man's Toothpaste." That's the man's toothpaste.....formerly known in China as Darkie.

There are many cultural differences between China and the United States, this being among them. I know race relations have a way to go in the United States, but we have moved past China in the toothpaste realm. We may lose the gold medal count in these games, but the U.S. is number one when it comes to least offensive toothpaste brands! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!!


TrooperBari said...

Can't blame that one on Engrish, I guess. Makes you wonder about the reaction to the Spanish basketball team's photo....

Shane said...

I'm almost scared to ask, but have you had a chance to walk by the condom section?

-- Shane in NoDo

Hyundai Mash & Seek Team #4 said...

Was it on the shelf next to "Honokey"? You know the deodorant for white people.