Please Don’t Ask

Once I began studying Chinese, I fairly quickly became fluent at answering the following questions:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. Why are you here?
  3. Are you married?
  4. Why not?

I can’t say that I dreaded the questions (OK, maybe I dreaded #3 and #4 a little), but I certainly knew that they were going to be asked of me over and over and since practice makes perfect, I mastered the answers.

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As people in China prepare to head home for the annual Chinese New Year celebrations, many are dreading the questions that their relatives will pepper them with.

The website What’s on Weibo recently ran a post highlighting some of the most dreaded questions for Chinese New Year. Here’s the list, but be sure to visit their site to see the explanation of each.

  1. How did you score on your final exams?
  2. How much money are you making?
  3. Did you find a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?
  4. Do you have a house and a car?
  5. When are you finally having kids?

In fact, question #3 is such a daunting one that there is a cottage industry of people renting themselves out as boyfriends or girlfriends for the holidays. The Globe and Mail has an in interesting story about this:

For many young women, showing up at home with a pleasant-looking, well-behaved boyfriend – even if your family never sees him again – is better than enduring two weeks of questions about why there’s no marriage or kids on the horizon. (China can be a deeply sexist society – women who are unmarried past the age of 30 are often referred to as “leftover women,” even in official media.)

“There are all kinds of reasons” that women contact a rental boyfriend, Mr. Zhou explains in an interview via instant messenger. “Some are divorced, some want help getting rid of another boyfriend, some don’t want to go to a wedding by themselves.”

But most, he adds, “just want someone to go with them to their hometown for three days, just to meet their parents and let them know they have a boyfriend.”

What questions do you dread?

Image credit: International Business Times

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