It’s recently come to my attention that some Chinese people have a highly developed sense of smell.
This manifests into holding their noses, grimacing or moving away from the scent they’re encountering.
Obviously no-one likes being around pungent odours but it’s interesting how in China, if the source of the stink is food related, no-one complains. If the funky smells come from people who prefer to wash once or twice a week in winter because of their belief that undressing fully in cold weather is bad for the health, then, again, it seems to be perfectly okay to just put up with it and make no reaction.
Weirdly if the strong smell comes from insect repellent or deodorant (yes, deodorant, I’m not kidding), then some Chinese people cannot bear it. They wave their hands in front of their face, sigh repeatedly and, where possible, make a beeline away from the offending, usually mild citrus fragrance.
When I asked my Chinese friends what this strange habit is all about they replied that traditionally Chinese people don’t use deodorant so, consequently, the smell is unnatural to them. They also mentioned that insect repellents whether for the body or the home are thought to be carcinogenic so they’re used extremely sparingly if at all.
I understand these reasons. I may not agree with them, but I can see how they would make sense. What I cannot stand is the rudeness which accompanies these beliefs.
The exaggerated negative facial expressions, hand-flapping, nose holding and ridiculous scattering to another area are unnecessary, uncalled for and completely damaging to China’s staged and much publicised attempts to win over the west with Soft Skills.
Dear Chinese friends I’ve yet to meet; deodorant and insect repellent are part of everyday life in the tropics and people will utilise them in the way they think is best. In any case you’re like to be in whiffing distance for no more than a few minutes so please stop the blatantly impolite reactions and just deal with it.