Thursday, October 2, 2008

pictures of people

I have this pet theory that people should take fewer photographs of "scenery" when they're traveling, and more photographs of people. I think that when I return to the states, the pictures I'm going to want to look at are of the people I got to know in my daily life here. So, with that in mind, I took my camera with me yesterday. The other impetus for this was that Erin chatted with our friend Elliott online and he mentioned that I should post more. This made me miss Elliott like the Dickens, so here you go Elliott. Erin just got off the phone with her sister Megan, as well, and Megan mentioned being curious about what other foods we've been discovering here, after she read the post about the breakfast thing I ate. I'll try to take more pictures of food. If anyone else has suggestions of things they'd like me to post about on this blog, just leave me a comment. Like Mark Twain, I have a "truant disposition", so I need people to help me keep on the blogging straight and narrow.

Picture descriptions: 1) This is a picture of all the flags in front of apartment buildings in our neighborhood, in honor of the holiday for the founding of the PRC. Many women also wear a red berette in their hair for the holiday. I'm going to try and find information about what that's all about. 2) This is a picture of a waitress and one of the owners of the little restaurant that's around the corner from where we live. This place is very close to our apartment. People eat out a lot more frequently here, it seems, than in the U.S. Restaurants are loud, and lively, and social. We frequently see a large number of people from our neighborhood also eating out at this same place. You can see on the wall this gigantic block of pictures of food from their menu. The menu is written entirely in characters, without images, so I think Erin has set a challenge for herself to try and order just from reading the characters in the menu, but we sometimes break down and walk over to the wall to point at things like ignorant Laowai. I really wanted to take a picture of the waitresses, because they're very funny and we've gotten to know them more, but when they saw I had a camera, three of them scurried off. The remaining waitress in this shot is pretending to organize the chopstick and cup sets, but really, she's avoiding having her picture taken. After I took this shot, the guy I assume is one of the owners ushered me over so that I could take a picture of the woman behind the counter. We'll get to her eventually. 3) This is a picture of the lady running the cigarette and booze shop next to the restaurant. These shops are everywhere. All they sell are cigarettes and booze. We've never actually bought anything from this particular lady, but she seemed nice. You can't see him, but there's this guy sitting on the floor behind the counter to this woman's left, dead asleep and snoring loudly. He's the man we wave to who usually runs the shop. Also, I wanted to take this picture so that you could see the insane cigarette lighter they have for sale. Click on the picture to make it bigger. The cigarette lighter is the gold-looking...uh...elephant? I think it resembles those things the Riders of Rohan fought in The Lord of the Rings movies in front of the white city. Anybody want it? I could probably ship it, or fit it into my suitcase on the return trip. 4) I love these guys. These two men run the bicycle repair stand on our corner. There are bicycle repair carts all over the city run by men like this, but these two particular guys run the one in our neighborhood I walk by on my way to get a cab to work each day. I think they might actually be upstart bicycle repairmen, because there's another little shop deeper into the neighborhood that looks more elaborate. One of our friends here said that you should be careful of some of the stands in the city, because some of the ones close to the university sell bicycle locks for a very specific reason. They sell locks that they have the master key to, and then they go bicycle "shopping" after you have one of their locks. These guys don't strike me as running that kind of operation, though. They don't sell locks. And seriously, how could you not trust them? Look at how amused they are. I envy these guys. They get to sit on this corner all day. 5) This is the aforementioned "lady behind the counter" at our local restaurant. I would like to draw your attention to three things. First, there is a nice bust of Mao on the counter. Second, you can sort of see my head in the mirror. Third, this lady's ensemble is not exceptional; in China, feather boas, sequins and see-through, knee-high socks are adequate business attire. Also, pajamas are acceptable if you're just walking along the side of the street for a few miles.

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