Living in China for almost a year now and it is still enjoyable and interesting as when I first arrived. Due to the May Day holiday ( Labor Day) on May First, I had what normally would be my Saturday classes on Monday. While it was a Monday, it felt like a Saturday. Just another cool aspect of living as an American expatriate in a foreign country.
Taking advantage of the warm weather and light winds after work on Monday I walked to a local electronics mall my ex- girlfriend showed me last year. As a former IT manager and someone who used to build computers for my friends and a few customers, it is always fun to wander around the three floors of vendors selling everything related to computers. In addition to computer parts and equipment there are also a few camera vendors. Before I left I checked out the prices on a few camera bodies and some lens. My Chinese is good enough to understand all the numbers from 1 to 9,999. If there is any misunderstanding, the calculator gets pulled out and the vendor displays the price he wants for the item. Great thing about shopping at the independent vendors, this is only the starting price. Then you begin to bargain and I have found out that I usually get a fair deal. I know I don’t get as good of a price a Chinese would get, but not as bad as a first time arrival to China. The old saying, “nothing ventured nothing gained” is true.
Before leaving the mall., I picked up a 10-pack of recordable DVD’s for 30 RMB ( $4.75). I just checked Amazon and the same 10-pack of recordable DVD’s costs $7.14. That doesn’t include the cost of shipping if you do not buy more than $25.
While I am not sure if it was the cappuccino I had at the electronics mall or the fun class I had with my students and their parents before I left work, but after I went to the electronics mall I went to a local market and had a pleasant smile on my face as I walked through the market. Even after almost a year, it is still interesting to see all the different kinds of foods, spices, and vegetables.
Going to markets where there are not that many westerners, you sometimes get a lot of stares and people saying hello to you in English. It is always fun to say hello back in English or ni-how in Chinese.
From the local meat and poultry vendors displaying their meat to seeing live fish swimming in tanks, the local markets are always very interesting.
Having an enjoyable time at the market, I took a local bus back towards the area my school is located and then walked the half mile back to my apartment. On the way home as I waited to cross a side street I saw a boy pointing a point and shoot camera at me from about 10 yards away. Not sure if he was pointing it at me or some other object , after I crossed the street, I decided to have some fun with him and pose for him up close. Since his mom was standing nearby, I stood next to her and posed with the classic peace symbol all Chinese take pictures with. ( I recently learned that the way the sound cheese is pronounced in Chinese means eggplant.)
After the boy took the first picture, as a photographer I checked on his picture and saw he cut some of his mom out of the picture . I then posed for another picture and was happy when he showed the results. As I walked away, it felt great to share a light moment when the Chinese family on the street and kind of funny to know that the boy and family was happy to get their picture taken with a western looking man.
Can Americans living and working in Saudi Arabia say the same thing about the people they meet on the street? Makes you think twice about who the corrupt politicians and other interests associated with the national security state apparatus say who are friends are and who we should be afraid of.