February 09, 2010

Sneak Peek

Although the Chinese education system relies largely on rote learning, many of the men have still retained a healthy sense of curiosity. In the toilet, they will not shy away from sneaking a peek at their stall neighbour's utensils while taking a leak. Foreigners are of particular interest, as this allows them to broaden their frame of reference. My focus on the task at hand and lack of peripheral vision prevents me from participating in this activity.

On another occasion, I was writing a text message on my mobile phone and a complete stranger came to shoulder surf. The contents of my SMS were written in English, so the man was using it as a chance to study up for the TOEFL examination he planned to take in the near future. He stood directly behind me, his head brushing against my jacket as he tried to read what I was texting. I made my message excruciatingly long, so he eventually lost interest and wandered off.


“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” - Albert Einstein