Friday, January 29, 2010

I know how a pretty girl feels

I had a chance to visit the aptly name walking street in downtown Suzhou today. It’s called the walking street because one cannot drive on it. It makes sense really. I wish all things were so simple in China .

I had a wonderful guide. She took me to the best silk shop in Suzhou. My wife will be happy. They make the silk products in Suzhou, the shop offers an amazing array of products. I was after a scarf. After a small fashion show, I settled on two designs, both unique. We haggled via my guide. She was a natural. I noticed a small crowd gathering around us as we shopped. Everyone’s eyes were on me. A few people followed as we walked outside. They watched as I got in the van.  Sometimes they pointed, but they always stared.

At our next stop we were on the walking street proper, everyone stopped what they were doing to look at me. Heads turned, hushed comments were mixed with the occasional cat call. I realized this must be what it is like to be a pretty girl or a celebrity. Everyone takes a brief break from their lives to live a minute or two of my life. It felt odd.

I bought tea. Flowing tea, it tastes wonderful and packs a little show in each glass. My wife and daughter-in-law will love it. As we left I was assaulted by salesmen who stalk the street looking for easy sales. They pulled, they prodded, they offered huge discounts on fake famous brands that fall apart five minutes after purchase. As we walked, the pedal taxis competed for my business and joked about my girth. A chicken vendor tried to pull me into his stall as a young girl made a quick dart in to pat my belly. All the while people stopped what they were doing to watch me walk past. China is such a wonderful pain in the ass.

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