I was reading one of the blogs and thought it would be a good idea to describe a few people from my time in China.
One of the greatest things there was becoming a local: getting to know and being recognised by the shop-owners. The last thing wasn’t too hard on my part. A white person in that town was still viewed as someone ‘wow’ – giving status to a company he/she worked, or, as in my case, being a customer in a shop. It didn’t take long for the owners to memorise me. One. This was the number of times I had to come to their shop. And then they remembered. It usually took a little bit longer on my part to remember them. But I have never had a bad memory (well, except TT), so we soon established relationship. It usually was expressed through smiles, questions and ‘huh – what do you mean?’ on both sides.
One of my favourite shop owners was a mantou seller. She was an average height Chinese woman. A little bit ‘full’ but not fat. That chubbiness and constant smiling gave her a very amiable aura. She tried to ask me questions of who I was and why I was there. Unfortunately, I did not understand a word she said, and neither did she. Once, another woman was there (I guess her friend) who knew a little bit of English and then they were able to ask all the usual questions I was asked while there – ‘who I was’, ‘what did I do there’ and ‘where did I work’.
The very first time I was buying mantou from the lady, I was nervous and did not know the price, and at that time, I did not know how to ask ‘how much’. So, I gave her a 100 quai note, hoping she would be fair. And she was. A piece of mantou was just 0,5 quai. Never again brought I a 100 note to the place.