Here is another great post from Shuan S. about Asian stinginess with new things. I see this all the time with my mom, grandparents, aunts, uncles– all the elder asians I know basically. We hope you enjoy this post!
Asian people are known for their frugal practicality honed from centuries of living in rugged, war torn and hand-to-mouth conditions; but like everyone else in the world: they appreciate the prestige, feeling and value of luxurious things. With many Asians now earning disposable income their ancestors could only dream of, expensive things are only a click away. While they feel good to have the trappings of wealth, a major internal conflict arises: using things will result in devaluation from wear (but not using them will result in waste). Eventually, every Asian resolves this conflict by getting nice things, but using them as little as possible.
While this can manifest itself in many ways (#79 Plastic Furniture Covers for example), none is more pronounced than Asians’ automobile habits. Whereas most people drive their nicest car to impress others, Asians prefer to drive the most worn out car available to them, reasoning that they’d rather not put miles on or risk damage to their nicer car. They will also make sure that people know they have a nicer car, however, as this makes Asian people happy — to have the prestige of a nice car, without having to actually use it. In extreme cases, Asians will even consider buying a beater car if they find themselves using their nice car too much. It would be child-labor-cruel to point out to them that cars are inherently depreciating assets.
The less flashy places to look for this trait are Asians’ wardrobes and tea. Vintage clothing shops love getting their hands on like-new items Asians wear only for special occasions (blood relative weddings barely qualify). Well, the vintage shops would if it weren’t for the #28 Hoarding. As for tea, Asians have been known to forego expensive loose leaf imported stuff for prepackaged Lipton bags they get for free with a continental breakfast (months ago, so as not to “waste” their good tea). That is how strong the instinct is.
The legacy of this behavior has not gone unnoticed. Legend has it that some of the first European explorers to reach Asia were greeted by villagers who welcomed the foreigners. The explorers were fascinated by silk cloth, porcelain dishware and vases, yet were taken aback when they were served their first meal in chipped and stained bowls and cups. Upon seeing that the locals also ate in such bowls, they realized the villagers meant no offense by it, and concluded that the nice porcelain pieces they saw earlier were simply ornamental. And that is why to this day, the word “China” is synonymous with both the largest country in Asia, and finely decorated dinnerware that is kept in pristine condition in an expensive cabinet and never used.
Very insightful, Shuan! Keep it up, and we hope you can all share your experiences as well in the comments.
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