The latest up-to-date statistics show that Hunan’s foreigners reached 690,000 this year, topping the six provinces in central China. There are 2,000 permanent residents with foreign nationalities in Changsha. Most of them are Pakistanis, then Americans, Japanese, Koreans and Canadians.

They give Changsha people more angles and broader horizons to view the world and even clearer cognitions about their current lives.

They are often embarrassed by such serious questions asked by Chinese, like China-America and the cross-Strait relations. They prefer to talk about pretty girls and delicious local food in Changsha.

While we are trying to make our city neat and uniform and chasing a metropolis dream, these overseas friends prefer the optional and folk flavor of the city. They miss the demolished “messy” Duoluo Street (a narrow lane which offered various entertainment as shopping, catering, KTV, etc. for the grassroots but somewhat being disorderly). They want a mountain without stairways. They hope Changsha people don’t compromise easily, just like them.

There are mainly three reasons for them to live in Changsha, to be a language teacher, to work in enterprise, or to do missionary work. They often assemble at a little bar at Hua Longchi pub street run by Ben and “The Fifth Tone” cafe owned by an American, Lei Hanjie. As a “senior Changshaese”, Lei is always ready to help the newly arrived foreigners fit in Changsha, such as how to communicate with Foreign Affairs Office and how to find a good Chinese teacher.

The activities held by Foreign Affair Office provided opportunities for them to get together. They can meet a lot of foreigners there. Changsha has been changing all the time, witnessing the overseas guests coming and going. Among those intimate friends of Lei Hanjie, few are staying steady. “There’s actually no certain circle stationary, and we are not that exclusive either,” Lei said, “the oriental culture is collective while the western is independent. People get to know each other, but they don’t have to be together quite often.” The French photographer Eden and the Japanese Lean Production expert Hasunuma Yoshito residing in Changsha agreed.

On Christmas Day, Lei Hanjie threw a party and watched the Christmas movie “elf” with a group of friends. For the newly comers, this is the first time they cannot stay with their families on Christmas, but they enjoyed the dense western atmosphere at Lei’s party. Lei, who has lived in China for a decade and speaks very fluent Chinese, seems to completely blend in China.

Ben met his wife, a Hunanese, after two months he came to China. They both like making friends, so the bar naturally plays an extra role----blind date place. Lots of foreigners found their love here. Ben likes natural landscapes and yearns for freedom. However, he really doesn’t enjoy hiking in Changsha’s mountains. “Stone stairs are ready for climbers to the top of the mountain, gosh!”

Ben said he often attends wedding ceremonies. He has got used to the custom of presenting red envelops but still feels uncomfortable when the envelops are unpacked immediately to record the presenter and amount. “The weddings always take two hours. Very similar costumes, almost same cuisine, the alike procedures, just like products from a production line. It is quite different in America. The ceremony may last for a whole day and there are a lot of surprises….”

1. Watching a movie is like ordering dishes, confusing but enjoyable. Hasunuma Yoshito follows strict norms just like his Japanese fellowmen. He always goes to some certain restaurants to taste Hunan cuisine even though he cannot understand the menus. He watches movies in cinema though he can’t understand it.

2. Glad to feel most ordinary citizens’ life Hasunuma Yoshito usually spends his weekends in Changsha with his bicycle, riding alone around the city; climbing Yuelu Mountain in the west, or rambling to the Window of the World in the east; touching the bits and pieces about Changsha. He likes the life of the grassroots citizens even those noisy and messy places.

3. I hope they don’t compromise When it comes to work, he never compromises. He always insists on his own standpoint when different opinions emerge among his Chinese colleagues. “I hope they don’t compromise either,” he smiled, “they employed me because of the Japanese ideas of mine, if I compromised, there would be meaningless for me to stay here.”



E-mail:enghunan@hunan.gov.cn

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