Chapter 21: A Foreign Face in Beijing | Speaking of China

4 Responses

  1. Melissa
    Melissa February 10, 2010 at 7:54 am | | Reply

    When I visited Guatemala there were several times when my husband asked me to hide around a corner because he didn’t want people to see my “gringa face”. Usually I did this when he needed to buy something or negotiate a deal or price because as soon as they see an American face the prices double. In General Guatemalans love Americans, but they also know that they can get more money out of us. In all the tourist areas there are two prices. One price for Guatemalans and one price for what they call extraneros or foreigners. After a while we started an act where when we were in line he would speak to me in spanish and I would give some sort of response. That routine helped us get the Guatemalan prices a few times despite my “gringa face.” ha ha ha

  2. Eleanor
    Eleanor August 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm | | Reply

    Once, I was showing around another foreigner who was couchsurfing at my apartment for the week with his girlfriend, and we went to a park. He was a very good juggler and brought juggling balls everywhere with him to amuse himself (and EVERY Chinese person who happened by, who stopped to stare, slack jawed, at this strange foreign guy doing fantastic juggling tricks and singing to himself). So we were watching him juggle and strolling through the park and happened upon a large group of retirees singing and dancing to a brass band that was playing old Russian Red Army songs. It was some sort of celebration for those who’d studied abroad in Russia in the 50’s, I think. Everyone was immediately curious about our group and crowded around us asking questions (which I translated) and watching my friend juggle.

    One guy was holding my attention trying to talk to me about the World Cup, when suddenly I was being pulled onstage along with my friends, and forced into a conga line with my other friends and some of the Chinese folks, while the brass band started playing jingle bells. I’m laughing out loud writing about this debacle, but at the time I was completely mortified. I’m pretty shy and this was possibly my worst nightmare, being pulled onstage like a circus sideshow and forced to dance so as not to appear rude. I guess he’d been dancing with a few of the older ladies and they brought him up on stage, then thought they should grab the rest of us too. After the conga line of shame, they tried to get us to sing, but I made some excuse about having somewhere to be and we ran away. He kept the juggling balls in his pocket for the rest of the day, as I recall.

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