Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Feng Shui is ruining my life

Yes, I know, we all like to think of Feng Shui as a trendy interior design concept, but its literal meaning--wind and water--generally refers to the balance of elements in nature, the laws of Heaven and Earth, and the flow of "Qi," or energy, in Ancient Chinese astronomy and philosophy.  What this apparently translates into in contemporary China is a need to constantly have a flow of air & "qi" running through your home, so as not to feel stuffy.  So, despite the fact that it is drizzling rain and 42 degrees outside today, half the windows and both of the doors to the office are wide open.  As my colleague informed me "it's not healthy to have all the windows closed because then it will be stuffy and you can get sick."  Because I'm certainly not going to get sick from sitting at my desk in a damp, frigid room all day.

Thanks to the cold front we've experienced recently, my colleagues finally decided that it was time to break out the space heater.  Again, however, the windows and doors are wide open.  As a result, just about everyone has relocated their work space to ascloseaspossible to the space heater.  It took just about all of my willpower not to say "FOOLS.  If you close the windows and doors we can heat the WHOLE ROOM!  Doesn't that sound like a GREAT IDEA?!?"  Instead, I politely pointed out that perhaps if we closed the window right next to the space heater, maybe it wouldn't be so cold.  No dice:
"Then the air will be bad."
"Really?  In the US, I always find that the heater makes the room a bit warmer if we close the windows."
"Chinese space heaters are different.  You need to have the windows open." 
"It seems pretty similar.  Do you want to try?"
"No.  These are different.  It will be too stuffy."

Apparently they know all about the differences between American and Chinese space heaters.   Not only can you marginally warm up if you sit right next to a Chinese space heater, but you can also put legs on it, and use it to cook & eat your lunch.  Don't believe me?
Exhibit A - family-style lunch at the office:

Note the open window immediately behind us, as everyone is bundled up in winter jackets.  genius.

No comments: