What's Your Age? (China Part 1)

The Beijing Olympics are just round the corner. Tips abound on how to behave in China. It says do not be offended if you are asked, "How old are you?" In the Westernized ways one do not asked each other's age (esp. women), religious and political persuasions, pay packet and marital status.

Let's just try this one, "How old are you?" and follow-up with "Are you married?"

They want to know your age as to how to address you properly. If you are younger/older there is a special word for each. This applies to your marital status too. Whether 20 or 50 years old and is married or not (tried not to use other options), they want to know! Relationships and its hierarchy is an important part of Asian family and social life.

I used to have a Singaporean female staff who is 39 and single and each time she goes to these areas she will be asked these questions (it went on for 4 years).

How old are you? Are you married? Why not married at 39? Do you want a local man? She is exasperated and flabbergasted each time the loving interrogation begins. New place but the same line of questioning.

Personally, when I told mother that I am going out with a girl, the first question she asked me was, "What's her age?" My reply: Same age. More questions, "Is she older or younger?" My reply: Older than me by 5 months. Then she made a statement: Same year older sister is better than a same year younger sister! With this she concluded.

I did not asked her why even up to now. My choice was firm and sure. I was 25 then.

What's in the age? A lot in Asia.


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