Embarrassment isn’t universal. I realized this walking down a busy street in Shanghai where freshly laundered clothing dripped from trees overhead. It’s not often, if ever, that I had seen underwear or bras hanging from trees in the U.S. or in foreign lands I had experienced. But in Shanghai and in many other Chinese cities I visited, they seemed to be the norm. At first I imagined how embarrassed I would be if I had to hang my intimate undergarments outside my house for strangers or, worst yet, my neighbors to see. But then I realized that the Chinese weren’t embarrassed at all. In fact, for them, it seemed a natural part of their daily routine: a necessity without any hint of embarrassment. After all we all have dirty laundry, why should that embarrass us? It’s just a fact of life.
That’s one of the many things I enjoy about traveling and visiting new lands: to question my own preconceived notion of what is and what shouldn’t be and to be able to see things from a different perspective.