Eating bitterness…

There is a word in Chinese that translates, very uneasily, as eating bitterness. I heard it in a talk I went to today, on rural people who have migrated to the city. One of the fruit sellers said of the city people, “they are all turnips!”

“Turnips?”

“They do not know how to eat bitterness.”

It means to suffer towards something, to scrimp and to save, to be frugal, to sacrifice. I was thinking about it on the train ride home, I think it is a very good description of something that rich people can never quite understand about what it means to be poor.

As for being turnips, I’m not so sure about that.

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