Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Something strange in China

I was out with one of my students and she was uncomfortable about it. "People just STARE at you." she said with an emphasis on the word STARE.

It doesn't matter what I do outside the college campus I am always watched or stared at. I'm used to it. It does unnerve my students however, but I can laugh it off. Initially it was a bit hard to take.

"Foreigners" are rare in some parts of China, and some people have never seen a foreigner. Not up close. Some are quite clearly scared of us. Especially little children (but not the ones I saw this morning, but I'll explain that later.)

Sure, I am tall, fair skinned, and blonde! Any one of these attributes is likely to get me stared at. All three? I come in for quite a bit of attention, and much of it is quite funny.

If I am at the supermarket, people look into my trolley to see what I have bought. Sometimes they will pick up things to see what is underneath or just get a better look.

At a restaurant with an outside window, often that I will look up and see up to six people watching me eat. Always people stare - and I am waiting for someone to fall of his bike (it is usually a he), as he rides by and takes his eyes of the busy road while he "gawks" at the blonde! They have got the wobbles, but no one has fallen yet.

When I went to the hospital for some minor treatment some months ago - I attracted a small audience that followed me everywhere. And watched as I consulted with the doctor. (That goodness it wasn't anything tooo personal!)

Once in a bus a woman kept feeling my arms and commenting to her friends. I think it was because Chinese arms are very skinny, and mine are not. It will take a while for the Chinese to get familiar with foreigners in their country, but bit by bit they are learning about us.

(Today there was a conga line of little children from the kindergarten walking past the college coffee bar, and I went to the door and waved to them. How I wish I had my camera with me, but as I had just come from class I did not. They all waved back and called out "hello". I blew a kiss, and all ten of them blew me back a kiss!!!!)

1 comment:

ESL Daily said...

That's strange alright, but things like that happen in other Asian countries too. There was a mid-aged woman in Korea that was trying to feel my arm hair. However, I stared in her eyes and tweaked her nose as soon as she touched me. If I am going to be on exhibit... everybody is on exhibit. I believe this was on a train.

Oh another story, I shopping at the local store with my cart filled with my monthly supplies. A young couple were really examining what I had put in the cart (this happens often, however not so intense as this couple). I calmly picked up 3 or 4 items in my cart and placed them in theirs, and patted the man on the shoulder saying nice to meet you too. Their faces were worth a thousand dollars.

Don't get me wrong... no grudges... anybody can touch my arm... so long as they don't mind being touched back. After all, these are the true memories that last a lifetime.