Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Compare the streets

Here is a picture of a street in China. How many differences can you count between this street and a street in America?

Yesterday I spent a day out in the city.

First I ate some street zongzi, sticky rice with a date, all wrapped in a banana leaf. The merchant opened up the treat and then covered it with honey.

Next, I visited a tailor to get a skirt made from the fabric I bought in Yunnan. I brought three skirts that the tailor could copy. They spent an hour debating which skirt to make and finally decided to make a wrap skirt with a matching shirt.

Ever since last year I have had my eye on this fabric with a red background and white flowers. I finally decided to get a sundress made. I let the tailor decide which dress to make. I have decided that it is better to just let the tailor create an image in her head rather than try to force my image on her. They might not know how to make the outfit I want. Also I usually end up disappointed when the image in my head isn't communicated to the tailor. Letting the tailor make something she is familiar with will hopefully be a really cool surprise. Or I might just end up looking more Chinese wearing Chinese fashion, but that is okay because I am in China.

Then I spent an hour at the hair salon. I brought pictures of closely shaved heads with long bangs and the stylist said, "That is TOO short!" He was extremely insistent, so I finally agreed with him and said, "Okay it is too short. Cut it a bit longer." I was sad as he started using scissors, but then felt happy when at the end of the haircut he brought out the clippers. I like my new haircut.

I ended the day by visiting the ice cream parlor but instead of getting an ice cream sundae I opted for the shaved ice covered with an assortment of beans and strawberry jam. I wrote letters, read a book, then stopped by the post office before going home.

It was one of those days where I was living quietly in my head, only speaking Chinese and feeling a bit isolated from the American me, the English speaking me. I used to get a lot of these types of days in Africa. Even though I am interacting with people, it is still a deep isolating silence like how I would imagine the feeling of living in a padded white room.

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