Public Discourse, Ground Level

One of the distinguishing features of young Chinese urban culture is the predominance of oral communication. In the fast-paced life of the asian metropoles a communication means like email is deprecated because it simply is too indirect, too time-consuming, deferring the pleasure, flexibility and preciseness of direct talk, the very efficiency of it.

So instead of writing mail, young people freely use their mobile phones, maybe send SMS or, if it has to be the computer, instant messaging. But at the core of the matter is the face-to-face meeting, preferrably in one of the thousands and thousands of restaurants that permeate the cities like a geological layer.

People meet in small groups, in medium groups, in large groups. You bring someone along? No problem, no prior arrangements necessary – it might be someone who called you during the taxi ride and whom you simply invited to join the event.

The moment people get together the chatter begins, agitatedly, with lots of laughter, moving from everyday matters to serious business and back seemingly without hesitation. The procedure of Chinese style eating adds to the openness of the conversation: the dishes circle between the guests, everybody has his or her share, eating and talking take turns in pleasant rhythm (the taciturn might add a little more weight in the long run).

Finally, the whole event is as quickly dissolved as it is assembled. No reason for awkward parting rites. The next occasion for further pleasant exchange is only half a day away.