Oh China, such interesting happenings in my days here. As I have said before, I am a super minority in my town of 1,000,000 people. In the whole town, there are 2 foreigners (before summer there were 4 of us). There is a guy from Australia, and myself. This of course causes curiosity when I am out of the house. People stare, people talk, people molest/pet/rub my belly (cause some people are dinks), people point, and people loudly exclaim, “Foreigner,” when they see me. To be fair, I am the first foreigner many people here have ever seen in person, and I am on a short list for other people who don’t spend time in the big cities. I understand the curiosity. The belly thing only ever happened twice, and I do have a short fuse for future happenings. I am quite sure the next guy (both were 50ish men) will get his hand slapped like a 5 year old child reaching for a hot stove, I feel this is a fair reaction to being molested by strangers.
All of these things, I don’t really mind (except my belly being handled by strangers), I enjoy the photos people want to take with me. I enjoy how some shops will offer me a foreigner discount, instead of the price going the other way as it normally does when I travel (See the story of buying my electric bike for an example of this
. The same thing happened the other day with my heater). My life is good here, and I have no real complaints. I am comfortable, and I never go hungry.
My dream though, is to grocery shop without having my cart/choices scrutinized. Given the chance, I want to do a big trip, once a month to get the bulk of my food for the month, then pick up odds and ends at the farmer’s market after. I want to go to the supermarket, and walk out with 7, or 8 bags of groceries, and not be a spectacle. Not going to happen here. It is strange for people to have more than a bag or two of groceries, so, I keep it pretty scaled back for each trip. I guess it wasn’t even worth mentioning the bags, the number of bags isn’t really the point, it is the examination of my cart/basket.
Here is how I know my choices in the supermarket are being, judged/stared at/scrutinized(?) not really sure the right word. When I get a handful of things in my cart, people start to inspect them. I can see the disapproving looks of the grandmothers at my lack of vegetables in the cart (I do buy them at the farmer’s market, not a tonne, but enough to not die).
Shawn, you don’t know for sure people care what you are buying.
Yes I do.
Beyond the looks into my cart, people will actually dig into my cart, move items to see what is below. They will lift things, and show them to their friends, and get a laugh, or a look, or whatever it may be. Old people, young people, never children though. I mentioned this to a Chinese friend, and they were surprised people would do this at all, let alone multiple times. The reaching into my cart doesn’t happen every time of course. It happens about 2-3 times a month.
Now, I realize it is curiosity. I am not upset at it, but when I am grocery shopping, sometimes I wish I were just a face in the crowd, nobody noticing, could buy my meat, junk food, and whatever else from the supermarket, and pay for it without attention. I like my small town, it has most everything I could want (coffee shop, supermarket with a couple imported items, and a hamburger grinder, 2 movie theatres, and a KFC to go to once or twice a month), but on occasion I think how nice a city would be where my side show appeal wouldn’t exist.
But, I do love the photo ops, when people shyly come up to ask if they can take a picture with me. I also do love the random hugs from kids on the street, although sometimes my heart stops when they see me, and run across the street without looking. I do get many smiles (Which I would characterize as genuine). So, I vented about grocery shopping, and now I am good.