Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

Photos on the sly

This image was taken "from the hip" while walking around my neighborhood.

I've been living in China now for about a year and a half. Everywhere I go I get stares. Not just a brief glance mind you, but actual turn-the-head stares. Most people in the south of China have rarely seen a foreigner, let alone a blond hair (well, dirty blond anyway), blue-eyed guy. I'm an alien from another planet. They are just mesmerized.

People keep staring at me

Especially is this true when they see me at places most foreigners never go, for example the second hand market. The second hand market is a place that is dirty, smelly, and plain ugly but . . . I can find great prices there.

We just got back from there about an hour ago and just to give you an example of what I mean I'll tell you a brief story.

Second Hand Market

Ruth (my wife) buys her sweaters from a very kind lady there for just three dollars. They are beautiful, flowing, warm woven sweaters. You'd pay $30 to $40 for the same sweater in the states.

Anyway, as she was looking at the sweaters and I stood holding her stuff, another customer asked the owner how much the pants were. When the lady told her, she balked (often the first thing Chinese customers do). Then she noticed me. She looked at me in surprise and so I told her it was so expensive because it was the best quality pants money can buy and then I winked at the owner. Of course she was happy I was helping her hold the price.

Soon I discovered that the lady buying the pants was actually a mother of one of the kids I teach at a local school. So we began talking and joking with each other. After about 10 minutes of this I turned around and discovered about eight people standing there, staring at me in disbelief. I'd drawn a crowd.

I tell you this story to help you understand why I need to take some of these photos from the hip. I can't just walk around and snap pictures because as soon as I walk out the door I'm on display, so I have to do it surreptitiously.

In the case of the old man at the top of this post, I put my iPhone in camera mode and then used the volume button to snap the picture.

Oh, and the mother bought the pants. Maybe I helped make the sale?
You'll never leave where you are until you decide where you'd rather be. -Anonymous

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