Thursday, December 29, 2011

Foreign (not so foreign) Country

After living in China for a while, you tend to stop seeing it as a foreign country. Granted, there are strange/frustrating/amusing cultural situations that come up every other day to remind you how little you understand, but you stop seeing the interesting sights you walk by every day because they have become normal. Today when we were out walking around (in the freezing cold!), I was remembering how strange some of these things were when I first came to China. I started thinking about things you don't see on an American street...

*A row of vegetable sellers with their four foot mounds of cabbage piled up on the sidewalk. They squat on tiny foot high stools next to tiny makeshift fires, waiting for someone who hasn't yet stocked up on their winter's supply of vegetables.

*Bicycle repairmen, shoe repairmen, seamstresses, and locksmiths, their equipment littering the sidewalk, waiting to repair just about anything for 50 cents. Their hands are dirty from work and gnarled from cold. Most of them are middle aged or older and very efficient at their work.

*A row of 25 shops, smaller than some people's closets, all selling an almost identical collection of random household items: wash bowls, brooms, dishes, pots, hangers, tools... How do they all stay in business? Perhaps because they have that one item that is different from the others.

*Interspersed among the household items are tiny stores filled with cages of chickens and various other fowl. And rabbits. Wonder what those are for?

*Stores selling huge bags of la jiao (dried red peppers) and other spices.

*Tiny stores filled with giant slabs of meat hanging from the ceilings.

*Outdoor sellers setting up booths with hats, gloves, and lots and lots of long-underwear.

*80% of people wearing face masks (for warmth) and only 40% wearing hats. I don't understand.

*Hundreds of people walking up and down the streets despite the cold.

*Hundreds of people walking on the street despite the fact there is a 15 foot wide sidewalk right next to them.  (What can I say...I usually walk in the street too...)

So yeah, I guess China still is a foreign country after all. But I was thinking the other day, as Juliana gobbled up her fish brains and innards, none of these things will seem strange to her at all!


Mallary said...

Hmm. . .mostly I agree with you, but I'm not sure that those identical stores have one unique product.

And Juliana really ate fish brains?!

Nate and Molly said...

You. gave. your. child. fish. brains.

Jane @ The Borrowed Abode said...

Same as above! Fish brains? :)