June 12, 2005

A world of opportunities, but ...

An old friend reached me in HK a couple of weeks ago. We were schoolmates in the eighties, which mean many, many years ago: later we took different paths and we lost contact. He found me last year through an internet search, and we met again.
A pearl of wisdom for my two readers: people never changes, apart for the scars and the wearing caused by a longer exposure to bad weather and bullshits.

My friend was amazed by the “energy” he felt in China and HK. It was nothing related to feng shui or to more contemporary moronic revisions of an oriental philosophy:
Just he felt that, in this area of the world, all people are doing frantically something in the more or less vain hope to become someone important. Basically they are all busy in making money and they can do it, while in EU things look more sluggish.
From a professional point of view, many people back home seems waiting for a merciful death, wandering on the pack like an old Inuit.
The comparison between the two economic environments, the European and the Chinese, (or, in a wider sense, “Asian”) seems to attract energetic people, pushing them to try to find a job here: but it comes at a price, and it is expensive.
I am not talking about simple things like the total lack of good quality bread and cheese. In China you can find it, even if at the same price of heroin in Europe.
Meanwhile in many parts of Asia, heroin costs less than bread in Europe: but, have you tried to make “panini” with poppies? It is hard, really hard.
The highest price you need to pay is related to psychological stress, because here the rules of the game are different.

Forget about fair means and a pacific life: nobody here pardons a mistake, nobody considers “fair” as an adjective that can be used in business.
If you hold a good job position here, you must be a little paranoid: there is always someone trying to dig a hole around you. The law regulating business relationships, here, is the law of the jungle.
Isn’t it the same anywhere? Yes, for sure, but probably the stress caused by the continue struggle for survival is more felt at an higher power and salary level than the one we poor middle class mortals can attain.
My friend was conscious of it : he worked in the financial and consulting field where always rules the Hobbes definition of “ homo homini lupus”.
Meanwhile, many other pure souls are recently writing to me, trying to find a hook to move here.

I need to give them some suggestions as follows:
If you have to be poor (for EU standards), if you are not so poor, or even you are basically wealthy, but you are not rich, hang with old Europe: for us, here, it is the survival of the fittest and often the fittest are not nice guys.
If you love fresh air, clean water, peaceful landscapes and serene relationships on your job place, do not come here.
If you want to escape from home to follow an exotic dream, remember that in the documentary you saw on Discovery Channel they don’t show you the smell, the dirt and the fatigue: just fancy colours and smiling beauties. They don’t show you the migrant worker in Guangdong’s sweat shop; they show the skyline of Shanghai and HK.
And please, stop sending your CV to me, and calling me to remember how friends we were when we were working in the same company: you still owe me 3 Euro for the coffee machine card.

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